Ask Iman: How do I choose my major?

Hi Iman,

I know that university is all about figuring out what direction you want your life to go, but don’t people start their experience with some kind of indication as to what their passions, likes and dislikes are?

I feel like I’m completely clueless in all the aspects and am being forced to commit to majors and decide without actually having experiences that would help me decide. What do you think I should do?

It’s okay to be clueless and even more okay to have no idea what you want to do. Though you may feel like you have no indication as to what you’re interested in, you most definitely have hobbies and interests that can translate to academics.

University is a time for you to fuck up, make good decisions and many, many more bad decisions, learn what you love and discover your passions. But navigating the way to your passions is difficult, intimidating and straight-up scary.

Picking one thing that could possibly become what you do for the rest of your life is scary, but trying new things is what university is for!

So, what should you do if you have no idea what to major in? I’d say you should listen to my advice.

Throw yourself in coursework

Take classes that interest you, even if they’re on completely different sides of the spectrum. Even though I had a general idea of what I liked and wanted to do with my life, I still wanted to play the field a bit.

You never know when something will light that spark.

The endless possible majors at your fingertips make school difficult to navigate. Taking classes that appeal to your interests, even just a little bit, will help you narrow down the many majors in your head down to one (or two) that you love.

Throwing myself into coursework and taking a diverse range of classes helped me learn what I wanted to do in school. Committing to a major for four or five years is scary, but you’ll have to pick something — might as well try out your options.

Non-academic streams of passion

Join a club! There are so many cool things to be a part of at UBC. Clubs can open your eyes to passions that can inform what you want to do academically.

Finding cool and quirky clubs to join on campus not only will force you to make new friends but engage you in things that you’re interested in.

Do you like film? There’s a club for that! Do you like improv? There’s a club for that! Do you like Quidditch? There’s a club for that, too!

The hobbies and interests that you explore in a club setting can inspire you to pick a major similar to that. Let’s say you love being a part of an engineering team? Maybe you’d also love that specific specialization. Co-op placements can also help to inform your choice of major.

Explore new things! You can find your passion!

Passion isn’t easy

A question that was in the back of my mind while exploring different majors was “What am I passionate about?”

That’s a tough question. But what I learned is that passion doesn’t always get dropped into your lap — rather, you may have to actively seek it out by trying new things.

Sure, I was passionate about my first major (undeclared, of course)! But I’m way more passionate about the major I chose, and if I didn’t take a chance on certain classes I would never be where I am now.

The beautiful thing about university is that everything is up to you. Do you live on- or off-campus? Do you join one or nine clubs? How much time do you want to take to complete your degree? The list goes on.

Since you have complete control over your education for the first time ever, try something new and different. Maybe it’ll be your passion. And if it’s not? No big deal. There are a million other things to try. Your passion is out there, somewhere.

The bottom line

It might be hard to realize this but every single person in this god-forsaken institution has struggled with their major and if they say they haven’t, they must be lying. Hell, I’m only in my second year and have run through a slew of majors I thought I wanted to study.

It’s normal to flip-flop between majors and even more normal to be afraid to commit to a major because you might want to change it. But that’s all normal and it’s something that tons and tons of students do!

To figure out what you want to do in university, you should approach coursework with an open mind while taking a wide array of courses that interest and challenge you. You won’t be able to figure out your passion if you don’t try!

You’re doing great. Keep it up!

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