Have a Q&A With Yourself
Ask yourself the following questions, and answer them as specifically as you can, taking lots of notes. The more specific you can get, the more information you will have to help you decide on your major path.
- What were your favorite subjects during elementary school? Middle school? High school?
- What did you enjoy about those subjects? Was it the teacher? The in-class work? The homework? The subject?
- What subjects, activities, and challenges come naturally to you?
- What are you doing (besides sleeping, watching TV, or playing video games!) when time seems to pass most quickly?
- Do you enjoy discussing topics of study with other students? Or do you prefer studying privately?
- Do you like to analyze ideas? Or do you prefer working with the more concrete and indisputable?
- Do you like to write? Speak? Play music? Or do you prefer working with numbers and data?
- Thinking about past accomplishments, what basic skills do you feel you possess?
- What character qualities do you possess? What do you perceive as your unique gifts? What have others told you about gifts you might have?
- Think of issues that are facing the world today. What issues are most compelling to you?
- Make a list of past great experiences in your life — these can be anything. Pick three that stand out and write down the specific ingredients that made those experiences so valuable to you.
- What do you like to do outside of school? How do you like to spend your free time?
Organize the information you gathered from the questions above into a personal statement. Here’s a sample:
My Personal Statement
I love working with people on teams. I enjoy working out concrete problems on my own and coming together with others to discuss the results. I really enjoy lab work because I can see the results of my work. I also enjoy quiet time on my own doing jigsaw puzzles and brainteasers. I am serious, detail-oriented, and concerned about the environment, specifically endangered species.
While this may not seem to point toward a specific major, it will put you in the right frame of mind to talk with faculty, advisors, friends, and family — who can help you come up with suggestions for classes that would align with your interests and traits.
For example, the person in the above example might enjoy taking a class on ecology, biology, earth sciences, or zoology. Taking classes that interest you, and continually reflecting on your skills, likes, and dislikes, will help you further identify your major path of study.