finding the right major

Picking the Right Major for the Right Reasons

“Follow your passion!” is the conventional wisdom when it comes to choosing a college major and, ultimately, a career. However, many lack a clear awareness of the best major and career path for them in their senior year of high school. For these students, we at IvySelect proceed strategically by encouraging our students to select a major based on their current interests.

Though your long-term goals may not have fully crystallized by senior year, you do have interests such as favorite courses or activities that readily relate to an academic focus. For certain activities in which you may have an avid interest, such as golf, line dancing, chess, reading, or a sport at which you don’t excel, translation into a major won’t work. But it works if, for example, you enjoyed working on the school newspaper. Then you may wish to consider pursuing a career in journalism.

Here’s a scenario that exemplifies the process IvySelect undergoes to help identify the right major for a student. In early junior year, a student who goes to an elite private prep school told us that she was interested, she thought, in the sciences, and the medical field in particular. By spring of junior year, however, she had transitioned into thinking she was more interested in the social sciences or humanities. In talking to her in depth about her background, her IvySelect college consultant noted that among the more unusual aspects of it was that she had lived in a number of countries, including ones as diverse as the UAE and Holland, while growing up.

Her IvySelect counselor asked her if she had considered the field of international relations as a major and career. She became enthusiastic about the idea and it took root. As a result, the student took a course in international relations at a university renowned in the field in the summer before senior year. She also started a global affairs blog with friends. In this manner, she went from being an “undecided major” to a student with a fixed interest in a major and the kind of compelling story that aids an applicant in gaining admission to elite schools. There’s little doubt that, in helping her distill her interests in the context of her background, IvySelect has made her a more competitive candidate.

We work with many students who haven’t decided what they want to study. Another example is a student who set up a volunteer organization to help victims of human trafficking in her city. We assisted her in building a case for ultimately becoming a social entrepreneur and studying political science, public policy, and economics. We patiently engage with our students to help them to discover where their true interests lie based on their experiences and favorite courses.

Be aware that, when you select a major on your application, you’re not really committing to it forever. But, for purposes of the admissions process, being able to define and expand upon a current interest from a strategic point of view helps make you a more competitive applicant to colleges. Admissions officers are better able to understand you and you become more of a three-dimensional person rather than just another applicant.

At most top-tier institutions, unless you plan to be, for example, a nursing, or engineering student, you can delay the selection of your major or switch majors in the first two years. This gives you ample opportunity to learn about other major fields of study that may appeal to you more than the one that you selected on your application.

Conversations with your IvySelect college admissions consultant will clarify your understanding of the major that’s right for you. We’re experts at what we do, and we can make choosing a college major a much smoother process than you are otherwise likely to experience. This is a great opportunity to get an expert opinion from an unbiased source so you don’t need to rely solely on family, friends, and your school’s guidance counselor for advice.

At IvySelect, we develop an admissions strategy that’s unique to you by spending time to understand your academic record, preferences, strengths, weaknesses, experiences, and educational goals. Among other things, this collected knowledge enables us to assist you in recognizing the field that represents the best path to meeting your educational and career goals.