HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR PROGRAM
This article was written by Lakehead University’s Undergraduate Recruitment office (www.lakeheadu.ca)
As you begin to wrap up your last year of high school and start to make some key decisions for your future education, choosing a major can be a difficult decision. Everyone is different. You may know exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life and how you are going to get there. But others may have no clue.
And that’s okay…Don’t worry! You are not alone. You’re parents, friends or teachers may be pressuring you to make a decision, but be assured…you don’t need to make a final decision now.
New experiences, academic and career investigation, and testing the waters are all valuable parts of a university education. Prior to coming to university, the only course subjects you have experienced are those taught in high school. Most high schools teach the traditional core subjects necessary for a high school diploma, but not a huge variety of subjects similar to what is available at a university. Most students have never experienced Sociology, Women’s Studies, Forestry, Outdoor Recreation, Business, Indigenous Learning, or Social Work. How are you supposed to choose a program without ever having the opportunity to get a taste of these different subjects? This is why all programs have electives so you can do some investigation of different subjects during your first and second years.
When you do choose a program, take heart – it is not set in stone. The average student across North America will change their program three times and then change careers several times during their lives. Many parents, funding agencies, and students themselves are searching for a concrete decision to be made up front at the beginning of the university experience. That will limit your university education and your university experience. The whole reason for a university education is so that you will experience new ways of thinking about and experiencing the world. Why would you want to limit your experiences from day one?
Choosing a Program?
- If you are looking for a program that will allow you to enter directly into a specific career after graduation, our Professional programs like Engineering, Social Work, Nursing, and Education will allow you to do so.
- Talk to faculty, friends, family and other students about their careers and major choices.
- Evaluate your skills. How well do they match your interests? Narrow down your choices by doing research into different areas.
- If you are undecided but you know you want Humanities (English, History, Philosophy), apply to a Humanities program and see if you like it. There are more than enough options for electives built into the first and second years that you can change your mind later.
- If you know you want to be in Science but are unsure which specific major, use your first year electives to try out your options to help you figure it out.
- If you are not sure whether to apply for a 3-year BA or a 4-year HBA, apply to the 4-year HBA as you can always go down, but you may not be able to switch up.
What is a Program Major?
- A major is a concentration of courses that will focus and shape your academic, intellectual and developmental experiences.
- A major should interest and excite you.
- A major will be one third to three quarters of your total coursework depending on which major you choose.
- A major is only one piece of the educational puzzle.
- A major does not necessarily define your career path!
Does My Major Decide My Profession?
Sometimes. If you are entering into Nursing, Engineering, Social Work, or Education you will be eligible for direct entry into a profession.
Sometimes not. If you are a Sociology major you are being prepared for a wide range of career options that require the analytical, critical-thinking and communication skills you’ll develop during a Sociology degree. Investigate different career options and find out the educational background of people already in those positions. You’ll realize that an undergraduate education gives you the skills to do so much.
Don’t stress out! There are hundreds of combinations of majors available at university. This is a good thing – you have options. Do some investigation and if you need to change your program major then talk to an academic advisor about the options available to you.