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Stu Halpern’s Five Tips for Choosing a Major

Biotechnology researcher or social entrepreneur? Entertainment lawyer or city engineer? Pulpit rabbi or web developer?

At Yeshiva University, students can pave their way to all of these exciting careers and more. But for those  just beginning their university studies, the wide range of options can, at times, be overwhelming. How do you know which field—or which track in that field— is the right fit for you?

To help students answer this question, academic advising will host two events next week. On March 11, a Majors Panel (Rubin Shul, 5:45-6:45 p.m.) will convene students from a wide array of majors chosen by their department chairs to speak about their experience choosing and pursuing their major and take questions from fellow students. On March 13, major-hunters will have the opportunity to meet and speak directly with department chairs of each major at the Majors Fair (Furst Hall 501, 5:45-6:45 p.m.) to learn more about specific fields, network with faculty mentors and plan their academic career. Deans, academic advisers and Career Center representatives will also be on hand.

“These are great opportunities for students to get a sense of what they can do here and what professions or fields play to their strengths and interests,” said Dr. Stu Halpern, academic adviser on the Wilf Campus. Below, Halpern offers five tips for students deciding on a major.

1. It’s Never Too Early to Start Thinking About Your Major

It’s always helpful to have a sense of what you might be interested in majoring in when you first hit campus. That way, you can dive right in, while also beginning to fulfill your core requirements. If you don’t start off your first year on campus knowing what you want to major in, that’s okay. Talk to friends or members of your community to broaden your sense of what’s out there—do any of their fields appeal to you? Reflect on your own passions or even hobbies. What do you enjoy doing? How can that skill or action be employed in the workforce? There’s no magical formula to decide on a major besides trying things out.

2. Always Get Your Feet Wet Before Jumping in the Pool

Try out a class in your intended major before you declare it. You want to make sure that a) you connect with the material, and b) you are able to do well in the introductory class. If a principles class is too challenging, you might want to consider a different option for your major.

3. Keep a Career in Mind

Speak to the Career Center about what professional options are available to students in your major. Every year, the Career Center surveys graduating seniors on their future graduate school and career plans, resulting in lots of data at your disposal to help make your major choice an informed one when it comes to career prospects. The Career Center also maintains relationships with alumni in many fields who can provide personal insight into their profession and help you determine if that path is right for you.

4. Don’t Forget to Balance

Keep in mind that while it is important to choose your major, not falling behind on your core and Jewish studies requirements is also important. Each semester, try to balance courses that fulfill requirements with those that count towards your potential major. Having trouble? An academic adviser can help you create a manageable course load that still keeps you on track to graduate.

5. It’s Okay to Change Your Mind

Changing your major is done by filling out a simple form. Don’t be afraid to make the switch if your original plan is not working out.

Have more questions? Visit Yeshiva University’s Academic Advisement Office.