Transitioning from high school to college is an exciting yet sometimes stressful time, often with many unknowns. If you’ve already decided on a major, great! You can do some mental prep to get yourself ahead of the game. Here are four ways to start preparing for your college major.
1. Visit college departmental websites
Take some time to browse the departmental websites of the colleges you’re interested in or have applied to. Often, these sites will list an overview of the major, as well as descriptions of required and elective courses, and what a sample course plan looks like. This will help you get a sense of what will be required of you and what opportunities you can look into, like internships on campus or in your community. If you’re able, look more closely at course descriptions to see what kinds of classes are offered that interest you.
2. Contact future professors, current students in your field, and alumni
Besides doing your own online research, it’s also great to talk to someone about your future major, whether in person or through email. Usually, you’ll be able to find contact information of the department on the website. Ask the department administrator if they’d be able to put you in touch with a professor or a current student, and specify that you’re a prospective or incoming student who would like to chat more about the major.
If and when you get into contact with one of these people, be mindful of his or her time, making sure to ask concise questions and thanking the person for his or her responses. In addition, some colleges offer alumni interviews, where you might be able to request an alum of your intended major and speak with him or her about it.
3. Reach out to current high school teachers and your school counselor
Your own high school is another great place to start learning about your future major. After class or during a scheduled meeting, talk with the teachers whose subjects are related to your major. For example, if you’re interested in journalism, reach out to your current or previous English teachers. They’ll often be able to give you an idea of what such college coursework will look like, as well as career options and what they did after college graduation. Your school counselor is also a great person of resource. Set up a meeting with him or her to learn more about what to expect from your major (and college in general!).
4. Find related extracurriculars or internships
Lastly, look into activities and opportunities, both connected to your high school and outside of it, that can teach you a little something about your intended field. If you live close to a college—whether it’s your future school or not—see if there might be any volunteer opportunities, lectures, or events that have to do with your future major. That would not only help you learn about your major and develop your skillsets, but also put you into contact with like-minded folks.
As you finish out your senior year, keep in mind that the above strategies can help prepare you for your major. Try out all or a combination of these ideas, depending on your schedule and preferred method of communication. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of those around you, who are often willing to help and have many resources of their own!
Lisa Low is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.