How to choose a major?

By Ashwin Malik 2021-09-30

Schooling is a fairly straightforward trail, you simply tread on a serialy marked route. A mapmaker would be beyond delighted at the proposition to chart this passage out! 

By the end of it, however, the path begins to diverge into discrete lanes, culminating at the cross-roads of a ‘major’ decision. Zeroing in on a major would take a proactive approach on your part followed by some active decision making.     

Make sure you cruise by the milestones that have been identified, so that you arrive at the unerring end to your quest, the place you can unpack and settle in, the place where you will belong.  

Milestone #1 Say goodbye to your comfort zone

“To know, is to know that you know nothing.” - Socrates

We course through years of education but yet successive years unfailingly pack more detail and depth. In fact the more you explore, more fields of study and realms of ideas appear. In a world inhabited by such multitudes of knowledge, understandably the term ‘know-it-all’ is used to mock one’s arrogance. 

Invest yourself in opportunities provided through coursework and extra-curriculars. To make the most of student life, be open to new ideas, question conventions and confront your own biases. The aim is to abandon latency borne out of ego and actively focus on exposure and growth.       


Milestone #2 Discover your Ikigai 

Ikigai (生き甲斐, 'a reason for being') is a Japanese concept referring to something that gives a person a sense of purpose, a reason for living. It is comparable to concepts such as mission, dream, vision and meaning of life.

To find your own Ikigai look within and meditate on these four probing questions - 

  • What do I love?

  • What am I good at?

  • What can I be paid for?

  • What does the world need?

Indulge yourself in these questions at the earliest and for as long as you can so that the answers you arrive at have tempered through shifting moods, deep research and  critical questioning.


Watch: The Magic of Liberal Arts


Milestone #3 Chase field experience 

What is taught inside the confines of a classroom differs significantly from its application beyond the walls. To gauge what a day-to-day in the field might look like, you have to meaningfully engage with your intended work environment. You have to break out of your fantasies and challenge romanticized imagery of careers. To do so you can look for a legitimate mentor in the industry, intern at relevant avenues, or even dabble in your own venture. Additionally, this would also help you pick up on the most coveted skills. Consequently you will develop stark clarity and faith in your Ikigai.    

Milestone #4 Don’t focus too much on sunk costs 

A sunk cost is a cost that’s already been incurred in the past and cannot be recovered. In the words of Lady Macbeth:

“What’s done is done.”

You might realise while gripped in the process that you may have been rallying for a lost cause. In such a case don’t be averse to taking a break every once in a while and reaching out for help. 

If you really can’t make up your mind, that’s okay too! It’s an opportunity to pull focus towards a more meaningful venture. Always remember that your past shouldn’t put shackles on your aspiring future self.

Hopefully by the time you check off these milestones you have an enduring idea for a major.

Your college applications already seem to be taking shape. The journey to your dream campus shall begin right!