Am I a Psyc, a Soci, or an Anth? A Few Tips For Picking a Major

Quick, what do you prefer to think about: whether polygamy or bigamy is more prevalent in world cultures, or what connection there is between socioeconomic status and cancer?

Which hazards of meth abuse are more prominent – structural damage to the striatum or verbal learning deficits? Should Canadian film be funded better? What happened to Rome after the Punic Wars?

If you only feel a 40 – 70% chance of falling asleep just thinking about these subjects, rather than a decisive 95%, you may just be destined to become a Bachelor of Arts student.

Fair enough. Plenty of people do it. Good decision.

Now what?

You have to pick a major.

An area of concentration, in other words. Something you will focus in on, learn about in-depth, become a bit of an expert in over your years of study.

But how do you know, before you start learning about a subject in-depth, whether you will like it or not?

Here are a few tips:

1. Think about what you want to do with your life. Like, “I really want to be a counsellor.” Great – psychology. “I want to work in the corrections system.” Fantastic – sociology for you. “I want to be a book publisher/editor”. English. Off you go!

Of course, it very well may not be that simple. Maybe you just have a vague urge to someday make money at a good job that interests you. Good choice. But not necessarily that helpful for narrowing down your university career. So in that case . . .

2. Pick something that truly interests you. A lot of people feel like they should pick one major because it’s more “practical” than another. Well, that may be true. But you can look at it from a different slant: A lot of jobs ask for you to have a Bachelor of Arts degree in a related field (to the job, that is). Well, a Bachelor of Arts degree in almost any field can be talked up to sound “related” to a pretty wide variety of jobs. So you’re not really limiting yourself, unless the career you decide you want is REALLY specific to a particular degree. Then you should be reading Tip 1.

Also, a lot of B.A. students go on to further schooling before they start their “real” career. Getting into the competitive world of graduate studies doesn’t necessarily require a specific degree. For example, you want to go into law? Just need a four-year degree, my friend. But a great GPA? Yes, that will help. If you’re interested in history, then take history. Get great marks. Then get into grad school, for whatever it is you want. You may need a few specific courses from a different field for the program you’re looking at – so pick those up along the way if you start to realize what graduate program you’re interested in during the course of your degree.

3. What did you take in highschool that really resonated with you? Social studies? Maybe you’ll go for economics, history, political science. English? Maybe English or Communications Studies. Loved your French class? A second-language major might be the right choice for you. Fascinated when you learned about the brain in Biology? Psychology might be the way to go. Debate club aficianado? Political science or Philosphy, perhaps.

4. Totally unsure? Declare “General” for your first year and take some introductory courses from different disciplines. It should help you narrow down what fascinated you, what made you fall asleep, what your mind just did not want to grasp, or what came pretty naturally to you.

5. KEEP READING THE B.A. BLOG – over the summer, I’ll post some more in-depth info on different majors – what they are, what types of classes you might take, what types of careers they could lead to.

Maybe I’ll even come up with a helpful quiz. Because who doesn’t love a helpful quiz?




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Filed under college, Where to go with a BA

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