Keeping it Reel

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing Your College Major

It is December. We are roughly half way through the school year. And somewhere out there in the world, a high school senior is scared to death because they will soon have to decide what they want to do for the REST OF THEIR LIVES. It is scary. It is hard. And it is completely dramatic.

If you are planning on going to college, but don’t know what you want to pursue, don’t freak out. A lot of schools allow you to go undeclared for a year or two and your college major isn’t as a big a deal as everyone makes it out to be. That being said, there are probably a lot of people out there who are in the middle of making their decision and could use a little help. Below are five common mistakes that people make when deciding upon a major. Hopefully, if you are one of those people deciding between a few different options, they will make things a little easier. Take a look!

1. Choosing for Security

If you want to pursue something that doesn’t exactly guarantee a career in the future, most authority figures in your life will probably suggest that you consider something more “secure.” They probably mean well; they don’t want you to end up begging for money on the side of the street, but the truth is that no college major guarantees a career. There are more jobs available in some fields and some fields pay higher than others, but choosing your college major based solely on the fact that you have a little better chance of making money is only a good idea if you want to be miserable for the next four years of your life.

Major in something that you actually want to pursue. If you love it, the chances are that you will work hard at it, and you will find a career in it.


2. Following Your “Passion” Without Experience

Conversely, you shouldn’t choose your major just because you feel that it is your passion. You should make sure that you have at least a little bit of experience in something before you decide that it is what you want to pursue in college. If you want to be a film major create a short film of your own. If you want to be a doctor, see if you can job shadow someone in the medical field. If you want to be a zoologist, spend some time around animals. Knowing what you are passionate about is great, but make sure you also know what you are getting yourself into.


3. Letting Someone Else Choose For You

Whether it be your parents, a teacher, or a friend, you shouldn’t let anyone else decide your major for you. Everyone is bound to have an opinion on what you should pursue, but while listening to logic and getting advice is okay, you are the only person who should be making the decision on what you want to do. You are the person who is going to have to live with whatever choice is made (don’t worry, you can always change your major).


4. Choosing to Choose

There are always a few people out there who declare a specific major simply because they can’t think of anything else to do. Not knowing what you want to do is a pretty normal thing. A lot of people don’t end up finding their passion until later in life, but you shouldn’t choose to major in something just because you can’t think of anything else to pick. Check out our post on choosing a major, do a little research, and explore the things that you know you have some interest in. Doing these things should give you some inclination as to what you want to pursue in college. Then, if you aren’t positive on what you want to choose, you at least have a starting point.


5. Choosing Without Knowing Your Path

No matter what you want to do, college is generally meant to provide you with two things. ONE: Knowledge and skill in whatever field you are studying. TWO:  Preparation for some kind of career. With these two things in mind, you should consider what your educational and career path will look like in the major you choose. What classes will you be taking, what does a starting job in your field look like, what will your everyday life look like in your desired career?

Many people fall into the trap of romanticizing their major and the career that goes along with it. They want to be a teacher because they love the idea of feeding young minds, but they don’t realize the work that goes into lesson planning. They want to be an actor and be seen on the big screen, but they don’t want to take the time to build a serious resume. They want to be a lawyer and defend the good people of their city, but they don’t want to be in law school for 7 years.

Make sure that when you are deciding on your major you consider not just the outcome that your major could provide, but the journey you will go through in order to reach your goals.

Your major choice doesn’t have to decide the course of your whole life. In fact, it rarely does. Many people find careers in fields that have nothing to do with their majors. Many people change their majors. And many people end up pursuing different things later in life. Don’t stress about this decision. Put the thought and time necessary into it, but don’t freak out. Look out for these mistakes, and choose wisely.

Here at Columbia College Hollywood, the big choice our students make isn’t normally related to their major, but to their emphasis. We offer emphases in directing, acting, writing, producing, cinematography, editing and visual effects, sound, and new media. Click below to take our Film Emphases Quiz and see which one is right for you!

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This blog is a collaborative effort by CCH staff and administration who want to share their knowledge with the film school community and prospective students.

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