Choose a College Major When the Options Seem Overwhelming

Choosing a major can become overwhelming when a school offers hundreds of programs, concentrations, and other degree options. If you aren’t quite sure what you want to study in college, this advice from real students and grads can help.

A former Stanford professor with three degrees, three children, and hundreds of published articles once told me he had not decided what to do with his life yet. In fact, he simply loved to learn, finding that when he was curious about a topic, he sprang out of bed in the morning—excited to begin his day. But even he had an original major: Electrical Engineering.

College course catalogs can seem overwhelming the first time, and the second time, and the third time you open them. Like the professor, while you certainly don’t have to be limited to a single career for the entirety of your life, you do have to make class selections and (hopefully!) work toward a major that you find captivating.

For hard-working student Noah Johnson, making the decision involved practical life experience.

“My advice…is to work for some time within a field you are considering,” Johnson says. “This is the best way to become acquainted with the field.”

Luckily, Johnson found his interest with the first job he took as a pharmaceutical clerk.

“I decided on Pharmacy after working at my job for a few months—I enjoyed both the people and the career from what I could see,” he says. “I had been only slightly interested until my dad showed me the job opening. I applied, got the job…and then started to become very interested after working there for a short time.”

During his shift, Johnson enjoys every aspect, from the customer interaction and problem resolution to organizing prescriptions and prepared expired medications to the sweeping. He can genuinely see himself in this type of position in his future, he says—which can be key to choosing a major.

“If you do not like the field at the bottom, odds are you won’t like it higher up either,” advises Johnson. “So try jobs in different fields until you find something you like.”

He plans to attend Bismarck State College for one year before enrolling in North Dakota State University’s full Pharmacy program.

With less specialized fields, however, choosing a major is not the same as choosing a career.   Stanford graduate Caroline Grueskin, now a crime reporter at The Bismarck Tribune, didn’t get into journalism at all during college—in fact, she obtained a Philosophy major with a minor in German Studies and honors in Ethics in Society. What she did do was explore different subjects.

“Take the classes that interest you,” she says. “They’ll help you find the right path. And don’t shy away from the classes that look hard. When I signed up for my first philosophy class, I had no idea what I was doing, and I was the only freshman. The professor told me, ‘I usually let students make their own mistakes.’ So, I went for it and, with a lot of help from a great teaching assistant, picked it up fast.”

Grueskin maintained an interest in criminal justice debates and took internships with prosecutors during college; her first job was in a business position at a nonprofit news site, where she first noticed what the news team did. Like Johnson, she found a deep interest from working firsthand in a related position.

“Nothing beats the thrill of a good scoop,” Grueskin says. “And I love helping people tell their stories.”

Still, she does not believe that majoring in Philosophy was a detriment to her now seemingly unrelated career as a reporter. In fact, she credits skills learned in college to helping her in journalism.

“My philosophy classes taught me to be skeptical: how to read and listen closely for bad arguments and their cover-ups,” she says. “That’s valuable to me almost every day as I interview people and try to get to the bottom of a story.”

To Ruben Krueger, a valedictorian from Newport, Oregon, engineering seemed his primary goal—for nearly two years, he remained focused on obtaining that type of degree. But “after some introspection, I have decided against Engineering and am interested in Mathematical and Computational Science,” he says. “One of the reasons for this change in majors was my realization that I have more of an interest in math rather than the design process of engineering.”

Realizations such as this stem from research about the specifics of a major, whether it is determining the types of jobs available for graduates or perusing samples of four-year university program requirements and classes that form the major’s core skills. Even though Krueger is pretty certain which major he will pursue, however, that does not mean he knows his class schedule yet.

“The process in between acceptance and move-in day is very exciting for me. Despite the fact that no one enjoys filling out forms, to me, I feel that these forms bring me one step closer to college,” he says. “I, in fact, finished all of my forms a few days after they were released. I haven’t decided what classes I’m going to take yet, but I feel the process has been fun.”

As long as you are aware that you may have to make some sacrifices if you enter a less traditionally marketable major, you should choose what you enjoy. Krueger recommends a practical approach as well: while obviously you hope to enjoy your major, it remains important to think about financial considerations.

“Pick the school which will challenge you the most and you’ll grow as a person the most, and…pick a major you can find employment in,” he advises.

Rising freshman Aaron Kaufer has chosen Math as his major not simply for its marketability but also because he has always had an interest in the subject.

“My earliest memory dates back to me at age four, arrogantly bragging about being able to count to 100. Basically, I just like math,” Kaufer explains. “Each new problem is like solving a tough puzzle. It’s rewarding when you solve it, but also more importantly, the putting the pieces together is what you enjoy.”

Applying to colleges while knowing his future major meant Kaufer did extensive research on the Math departments of selective universities. For someone who has not decided what to study, however, he recommends taking whatever classes you like to help you find the major that’s right for you.

“Seriously, go crazy,” he says. “Ever laid back and looked at the stars and thought, ‘Man, it would be cool to know more about this stuff?’ Then go take astronomy. I genuinely think that everyone has that little sweet spot of what they love to do—don’t just settle for something that seems right. Wait until you’ve found the sweet spot and stick to it.

Learn More About The Art of Studying in College

When you first enter college, academic life may seem easier: you don’t have to wake up early for six hours of class every day, and there’s no one nagging you about doing your school work. One of the best parts of college is being able to freely create your own schedule and pursue your own interests without the rigid rules and structure of high school.

However, with great freedom comes great responsibility, and every college student will have to learn the art of studying and time management at some point in their college career. Use these tips to get ahead of the curve.

Look at the syllabus ahead of time and plan accordingly

Unlike high school, college professors will usually have their class already planned for the semester with all the assigned readings or problems listed ahead of time so there are no surprises. Often, you’ll be expected to do these readings and problems before class so you will better understand the lecture and participate in the discussion. Looking ahead at each class’s syllabus also allows you to plan your social events, work, etc. around the amount of work you have.

While reading, make annotations and notes on a separate piece of paper

Whether they are a STEM major or in the humanities, every college student will be expected to read a lot of information and understand it in a short period of time. While reading, it is best to make annotations directly on the reading itself. These annotations may include notable underlined quotes, a quick summary of what you just read, or definitions of words you don’t understand. In addition, it also helpful to write longer notes of what you just read on a separate piece of paper. Although this is tedious, taking the time to summarize what you just read will cement the knowledge in your brain—much better than just reading the material quickly once.

Review notes at the end of the week

Reviewing notes at the end of the week will make sure you truly understand what you just learned and allow you to synthesize and connect all the concepts. It also gives you the chance to see if everything you wrote makes sense; we’ve all gone through our notes that we wrote many class sessions ago only to find that we have no idea what we were talking about earlier. Reviewing notes early prevents you from cramming an entire quarter or semester’s worth of notes at the last minute.

Practice working through problems without your notes first, then look to them for reference

When you first learn a concept, it might make sense and the problem may seem relatively easy because everything is fresh in your mind. And it can be tempting to whiz through, say, a problem set using the in-class notes you just took and then be finished, but many students often find that they quickly forget a just-learned concept once new material rolls in.

It is helpful to study your notes first, close them, and come back to the problem a bit later and do as much as you can without referencing them. After that, then you should review your notes to see if you’ve made any mistakes. Following this habit can also help you prepare for future tests

Sleep and eat well—consistently

No matter how many times students are reminded to sleep and eat right, this advice often gets pushed aside in college. After all, what’s more fun: ordering an extra cheese pizza with your friends at 2:30 in the morning or going to sleep at 10 after a sensible dinner? But taking care of your health in college is essential to doing your best in the classroom (not to mention feeling good outside of it). Eating well will give your body the energy to focus and perform well in studies. Sleeping proper hours, especially before a test, will allow your brain to process and synthesize all the concepts coherently. Studies show that people who get quality sleep right after studying will recall things better than people who don’t. After all the hard work, treat your body and brain to some well-deserved rest

Tips to Choose Your Major

The Ohio State University offers more than 200 majors, plus hundreds of minors and specializations. The University of Michigan has almost 250 areas of study. Montclair State University boasts nearly 300 majors, minors, and concentrations. And you thought you had trouble choosing your burrito filling at Chipotle.

Your major decision may seem even more difficult if you have no idea what you want to study. But the good news is you don’t have to decide right away. It’s perfectly okay to take some time—years, even—to self-reflect, explore your interests, change your mind, and start all over again. In fact, that kind of exploration is encouraged by many colleges and universities.

If you’re not sure what you want to major in, here’s how to get the ball rolling.

Assess yourself

“The key is to not rush into any decision about majors,” says Randall Hansen, CEO and Founder of Quintessential Careers and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Choosing a College Major. “Students should take time for some detailed self-assessment.”

You can start by jotting down honest answers about the following:

Favorite high school classes

“Not the easiest or the ones with the best teachers,” Hansen says, “but the ones in which the subject really excited you and made you want to learn more.” What classes do you truly enjoy? Your love of math could translate into a business or computer science major, while physical education may lead to kinesiology or community health.

At the same time, think about what classes your high school doesn’t offer. Is there a subject you’ve always wanted to learn more about—a foreign language, a branch of history, an art medium—but never had the chance? You can find out if you’re really interested by taking electives in college. These are the classes you get to take out of pure interest, and they allow you to earn credit toward your eventual degree. Exploring uncharted academic areas could even help lead you to your ideal major.

Skills and interests

What do you excel at in and out of the classroom, and more importantly, do you actually enjoy it? Students shouldn’t choose their major solely based on “what they might have been told they ‘are good at,’” says Beth Howard, Director of Advising Services at the University of Montana. Your friends may come straight to you whenever they need help editing an essay, but if doing that for a living doesn’t excite you, then you shouldn’t feel pressured to major in something like journalism or English.

Hobbies and extracurriculars

What do you like to do in your free time? Look for any running themes when you make your list, like helping others or attention to detail, Hansen says. For instance, a penchant for volunteer work may compel you to pursue a variety of majors, from nursing to sociology to veterinary science. Which leads to another consideration . . .

Personality and preferences

If you can’t stand the sight of blood, you shouldn’t go into nursing. If you don’t really like dogs, you probably don’t want to be a vet. This is common sense, but it is important to think about what kind of person you are and how it will affect your choice of major. Are you an introvert? Extrovert? Pragmatic? Artistic? You’ll be a lot happier and able to put forth your best work when you’re comfortable with what your courses and future career ask of you.

Degrees and time frames

So many choices—associate, bachelor’s, master’s, arts, science, dual, doctoral, professional—so little time! What degree do you hope to obtain, and how many years you are willing (or able) to commit to earning it? Most programs take four years to complete, but many need to be bolstered by grad or med school if you wish to work in a certain field.

Work and values

Although choosing a major is not the same as choosing a career, considering your professional future can help guide you toward certain academic areas.

“Try to think about what you might like to be doing 10 years down the road,” says Howard. “This can be daunting for some students, so I try to guide them to think as broadly as possible: Do you see yourself working 40 hours a week? Are you in an office or outside? Are you traveling regularly for work?”

Career research, job shadowing, and informational interviews can also offer valuable insight. Hansen encourages students to talk to family, friends, and professionals to “get an idea of the types of careers that are out there and what they entail—and whether any of them spark something within you.”

Following a family tradition or pursuing a more profitable field may weigh heavily as you try to choose a major. But if you don’t enjoy the subject you commit to studying, you will have bigger problems than the one you face right now.

“Many students get pressure from family to choose a certain major, and then these students struggle for years before breaking free or dropping out,” Hansen says. “The most important factor in choosing a major is doing so for yourself and not others.” You are the one who has to live with the choice, so in the end, you should pick a major you are passionate about—“one that you can see loving for years and years.” Unless, of course, you change your mind . . . but more on that in a second.

Explore your options

Still not sure what that passion is? You’re not alone. “Nearly 80% of first-year students are undecided in their major of choice,” says Allison Logan, Director of the Center for Exploratory Studies at the University of Cincinnati. And you may not figure it out for a while. “Nearly 75% of all college students will change their major once or twice in their academic career,” she adds.

If you have a college already in mind, browsing its course catalog can help lay out your choices in black and white. They are usually available online and include everything a school has to offer: types of degrees, academic divisions, departments, majors, minors, concentrations, courses, and more.

Granted, this is a lot of information to take in, and you may feel even more overwhelmed after looking at all your choices. But schools understand and want to help! Because so many students enroll without declaring a major, many colleges and universities have developed special programs to simplify the decision-making process. Classes, centers/offices, and other “exploratory” resources can help students investigate their academic options and stay on track to graduate on time.

“Exploratory Studies is one of the largest ‘majors’ at UC,” says Logan. “You can’t graduate from Exploratory Studies, but many of our students will use our services at one point or another in their undergraduate career.” More than 5,000 students university-wide take advantage of the Center each academic year, she says.

The University of Cincinnati provides students with free assessments through MyPlan, an online testing service that takes into account personal preferences to help find major and career matches. An elective course called Discovering UC is also offered, which introduces students to the school’s 125+ majors through faculty presentations.

In a similar program, the Major Exploration Center at the University of Utah offers a number of services to help students choose from the school’s 83 majors. These include one-on-one appointments, class presentations, newsletters, an open house series, a major exploration course, and events like the annual Major Exploration Expo, which showcases hundreds of department offerings to current and prospective students.

Julia Popp, Assistant Director of the Major Exploration Center, says these types of programs are critical to help students navigate their many options, especially at big state schools like the University of Utah. “Exploring students can sometimes feel lost at a large university,” she says. “Our office and our programs can help the student find the right academic fit while also providing a home and community for them.”

Your future campus will have similar services to help you pick your best-fit major, so make sure to seek them out and take advantage if you need them. “There may be majors offered at an institution that students never even considered or never even knew existed before,” says Logan. “Take some time and explore what your institution has to offer you.”

Don’t sweat it

You may still have some lingering worries in the back of your mind if you go into your first year of college with no major plans. If that’s the case, here’s what you need to know:

Will I graduate on time if I wait to declare my major?

“We try and take a very organized and proactive approach to major exploration so that students can still progress through their degree while they explore,” says Popp. “Of course, some degrees can take longer to complete than four years, but that is true for both ‘decided’ and ‘undecided’ students. Exploring students are no further behind.”

Will this major land me a job?

“The big joke at most colleges is, ‘What practical use is a philosophy major?’” Hansen says. “But, in reality, a major is just one small part of what makes you attractive to employers after college.” Gaining real-world skills and references outside the classroom through internships, volunteer work, and networking are often more essential to securing a job after graduation.

Howard agrees that skill sets and experiences influence future success more than a specific major. “Even for medical school, it is your performance in a limited number of science courses—biology, chemistry, physics, math—in combination with a demonstrated commitment to and understanding of the profession that makes a big difference,” she explains.

What if I make the wrong choice?

Every experience—good or bad—can be helpful in your quest to find your major. “Even if the student discovers they don’t like a particular field after all, it can be beneficial to the decision-making process,” says Howard. If it’s too late to switch, remember your major does not seal your fate, and a degree in any major will open doors to many different professional fields

Know More About an International Relations Major

An International Relations major can take you around the world—and then some. Keep reading for a look at some common careers for students who major in International Relations.

Majoring in International Relations is like buying a plane ticket: it’s definitely going to take you somewhere, it might be helpful to know a second language, and cultural immersion is a guarantee.

What exactly does an International Relations major entail? Essentially, it examines how nations interact diplomatically, economically, historically, and culturally, inside of government and out. In an increasingly globalized world, establishing diplomatic relations is crucial for a secure international economy, smoothly executed international law, and, well, avoiding World War III. I’m not saying International Relations majors are going to save the world, but I’m not saying they won’t either…

If you’re considering getting a degree in International Relations, keep in mind that this area of study doesn’t necessarily translate directly into a specific career. The lack of direction might be unsettling, but in reality, like with so many majors, you can apply an International Relations major to a plethora of career paths. Here’s just a few:

Diplomacy

In the words of the US Department of State, “The mission of a US diplomat in the Foreign Service is to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the US abroad.”

Being a diplomat involves working in one of the 270 embassies in every kind of environment and situation imaginable. Representing the United States and working with foreign governments characterizes the 9-to-5 in this career. And an IR major is a great foundation for it.

International Relations majors might also consider working for the United Nations, which was formed after World War II in the interest of solving geopolitical issues to prevent another global conflict and promote human rights everywhere in the world. Located in New York City, the United Nations hires professionals in these categories: management and operations support; economic and social development, peace, and security; information systems and communication technology; legal; public information and external relations; conference management; and safety and security.

Intelligence

Working for an intelligence agency such as the Central Intelligence Agency doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll live dangerously like one Mr. Bond—James Bond. Intelligence careers are available in the Defense Department, Congress, National Security Agency, and other similar government organizations. These employees are associated with the gathering, interpreting, and classification of sensitive information. In addition to majoring in International Relations, specialization in categories like technology, language, and environmental science will lead to a challenging and exciting career.

Business

International business is an incredibly vast and ever-growing professional field. Companies will send employees to different countries to negotiate, advertise, and develop their business in that location. Because cultural variances and linguistic diversity complicate the process, majoring in International Relations and understanding how to bridge the two areas is certainly helpful as trade contacts expand further and in multiple areas. Getting a degree in Business Administration, preferably a master’s (MBA), may also be necessary if you plan on going into international business.

International law

Having an undergrad degree in International Relations won’t give you the title of a lawyer, but it’s an excellent prerequisite major to prepare you for law school. International lawyers deal with the complications of changing laws as borders are crossed. They work in the public and private sectors: Public international lawyers ensure that government actions are in cooperation with the law as they interact with other nations. Private international lawyers are paid to analyze how legal procedure will go about when multiple nations are involved in an economic transaction, a war crime, or the destruction of an ecosystem.

In the end, majoring in International Relations will equip you with problem-solving skills, cultural awareness, and limitless career opportunities. It’s an excellent supplement to a law or business degree, because these fields are rapidly globalizing with the rest of the world. Learning a second language such as Mandarin or French might also give you an upper hand in this field as well. If you’re interested in any of the careers mentioned above, or preventing World War III, this might be the major for you

Some Tips To Aspiring Creatives Can Stand Out From The Crowd

Anyone interested in a creative career has probably already heard this refrain from a family member or dubious friend: “And how do you get a job doing that?”It’s true that competition is fierce for those seeking to become filmmakers, graphic designers, visual effects artists, and so on, but it’s not exactly out of the realm of possibility to make a living in these roles.

Take a look at this year’s Oscar nominees: plenty of Aussies have managed to find great success across a whole range of creative fields, from sound design to cinematography.With director George Miller looking to make a bunch more Mad Maxsequels in the future, maybe now’s the time to start getting skilled up for such gigs?The question is, how does a graduate stand out from the crowd? Student Edge asked the Academy of Information Technology’s (AIT) Industry Internship Liaison Officer, Tamara Popper, for her top tips.As the woman responsible for connecting “AIT to the industry” and bringing “the industry to AIT,” she’s plugged into the current state of the arts in Australia, as well as an export in teeing up students with on-the-job internship opportunities.Plus, as an independent film producer who has also worked for Screen Australia (then, the Australian Film Commission) and numerous local film festivals, she’s armed with a deep knowledge of what’s required to succeed in the arts both creatively and practically.Point being, listen to what she has to say.

1. Having a full portfolio is essential.Walking away with a degree or diploma certifying your expertise is certainly handy, but doesn’t necessarily separate you from the pack of graduates. However, having an impressive portfolio alongside that piece of paper can make for a pretty powerful combo.“Have a selection of your strongest work; work that, as a graduate, you’d be proud to show, that represents your skill set, and that’s presented in the best possible way and in a cohesive way,” she said.“There are so few places for so many graduates, and graduates can stand out by having their work presented in the best possible light: showreels; websites; booklets; and for graphic designers, a beautiful coffee table book.”

2. Get as much work experience as possible while studying.“[Work placement] can be a great way to further your portfolio,” Tamara suggested, adding, “if the organisation or company says you can use it as part of your body of work, of course.”Getting experience in a workplace also prepares you for the reality of employment. It may even effect your marks.“Being in that professional environment, so often, gives the graduates or students such a boost that actually their work improves, just by being in a work environment surrounded by practitioners,” she said.

3. Create something every day, even if it’s just for you.“The students here at AIT that we see faring best are ones that create something every day,” Tamara said.“They do work and create something for their own pleasure, off their back. It’s something they feel compelled to do. Like anything – sport, the visual arts – you need to practice and keep your skills up within a craft.”She also believes it can keep spirits high if jobs aren’t immediately forthcoming.“Everybody has downtime in between jobs, particularly if you’re a freelancer,” she said.“Having your own work to continue on keeps your morale up in those times when it’s tricky finding a job, or you’re waiting for a job to start.”

4. Start networking early. Like, now.Some young people may feel intimidated by the prospect of networking, but it really can be as simple as offering a compliment to another creative person.“If you’re at a festival and you’re in the foyer and you see the director of that film, whether it be an international film or an Australian film, take the opportunity in an appropriate moment to go and introduce yourself,” Tamara said.“Tell that person you liked their film. Thank them. Begin with that. It actually makes you feel good about seeing somebody’s work as well, and artists do like to be complimented.“Film festivals, or a games expo, or any event like that, when you get an opportunity to be amongst a peer group, even if they’re much more experienced or older, take that opportunity. Put yourself out there. Sometimes it takes courage.”She also encourages students to be a good collaborator from the early stages of study.“Your network starts really early on,” she said.

5. Proven ‘hands-on’ experience is great, but it’s good to have some theory behind it too.This, Tamara says, is “incredibly important,” to the disappointment of many students who prefer the practical elements of being creative than the academia behind it.“Understanding theory can help your practice. It shows you to be a person that has researched; that has a deeper level of understanding,” she explained.“Understanding another person’s body of work, in the theoretical sense – looking at another artist’s themes – can only help your own work as well.“You have to step outside of what you’re doing and see other peoples’ perspectives.”

6. Make sure you have a broad knowledge in fields related to your main passion.Not only does it make you flexible when seeking employment opportunities, having a broad knowledge across different areas just plain makes you better.“If you have that language to talk to other practitioners, you’ll be a good collaborator,” Tamara said.“So, in film for example, directors… understand the process of film editing and sound design. They have the language and the theory behind them to be able to collaborate with that expert, the editor. It makes the collaboration far more equal and satisfactory, to have that understanding of each other’s craft or field.”

7. Consider small colleges and their community of like-minded people.“There’s an intimacy there,” Tamara said, in regards to AIT (with its Sydney and Melbourne campuses of approximately 400 students).“Teachers and staff… talk about students and their work, and often I’m being shown something by another teacher, and then I can think about that person and their work and have them in mind for when an internship comes up,” she added.“It’s different to being on a campus with 30,000 students. We’re all on first-name basis, and I think that really helps people’s creativity, when you’re not just a number.”

8. Attitude is everything.Above all, Tamara suggests, one should remember to remain positive and develop a thick skin as they embark on a career in a creative field.“Don’t get defeated by the toughness of the industry. It is tough. Be resilient. Hang in there,” she encouraged.“Work begets work. It will come to you if you keep putting your work out there and having a professional attitude.“Be confident with your work. Share it with a handful of people you trust and take on their feedback. Get used to taking comments on board [even if] it’s daunting to get other people’s take on your work.”

Learn More About History Major

You want to major in history, but what kinds of jobs and careers will it lead to? It varies a lot, but here are a few ideas for you college history majors out there…

Deciding what college major you want is one thing—deciding what to do with that major is a whole other story. Today, I want to delve into a few career options for students who choose to major in history.

Researcher

A common career path that comes to mind for history majors is working as a researcher. Researchers can work in practically any field, sharing their knowledge through books, documentary films, museums and other historical exhibitions, reports for local and federal governments, and even helping businesses understand the past in order to better their future.

Becoming a researcher can also give you the opportunity to combine different passions with your love of history. Want to save historic buildings? Work for the government and use your research to accomplish that goal. Love to write? Become a journalist and use your understanding of the past to interpret current events. You can even consider a career in film as a documentary editor or try your hand at writing a book. The possibilities are endless.

Educator

Another well-trod path for a history major is education. You are equipped with the knowledge of the past to hand down to the next generations. Those who become educators have many options, be it teaching in an elementary, middle, or high school setting. However, there are additional requirements to obtain a teaching certification that vary by state. There is also always the option to become a professor at a community or four-year college, and an undergraduate degree in history is an excellent steppingstone for obtaining the advanced degree generally required for teaching at the college level.

Outside the classroom, there are other opportunities for passing on wisdom. Historic sites, such as battlefields and monuments, and museums always need historians to interpret their materials. If you go for a more specialized degree in history, you might find a perfect niche for you in the worlds of museums and historic sites.

Advocate

Wielding their knowledge of the past, history majors are ready to take on the world and all its injustices. Careers as an advocate can include working in law/litigation, in government, or for a private foundation. A history major also receives excellent preparation for law school, as well as litigation support, which is incredibly important to the outcome of cases.

Working for the government is another common path for a student of history, whether they become a politician or staff member to a government official. It seems like a no-brainer to share your knowledge of the past with the public in order to build a better future!

A job with a historical foundation or nonprofit association is also a viable option for a history major, as knowledge of past events is important to their continued work.

First Day Of High School

First rule of high school: Don’t talk about high school! (Okay, maybe just this once…)

For a lot of us, high school is that daunting step where you go from a small fish in a small pond, to a slightly larger fish in a much bigger pond.It introduces such freaky prospects as more homework, classes in different rooms and (unless it was discussed the year before) Sex Ed. It is the scariest step in schooling, but it can also lead to some of the best years of your life.First thing you should keep in mind on your first day is that no matter how cool a head your peers seem to have, they are most likely panicking as much as you are.

You are all in the same boat, so don’t think that you are alone.Remember, you won’t be judged for being new. No one will point you out and laugh in your face if you have a question. High school isn’t an overdramatised version of Mean Girls; everyone there is there for the same reason, so don’t be afraid to raise your hand for help.Going into high school will not be the easiest transition. It is very possible that friendship groups might split and you may be facing a class of few people you recognise. This does not mean the universe is trying to rip you from your friends. Rather, it is an opportunity to extend your social circle.A big part of your high school experience depends on the friends you surround yourself with. Now that there is a larger selection of potential besties in the playground, open yourself up to new people. You may even find a lifelong friend.It is a ridiculously clichéd suggestion that no matter how over used, is never wrong:

The best thing you can do on day one is to be yourself. Don’t try to shed the junior school you and play someone you’re not. You’d only be lying to your peers and teachers, and, more importantly, to yourself. You’re going to be in high school for a few good years; you would have a much happier time if you spent those years as the real you.High school is a kind of rite of passage. You walk away from your childhood in junior school, and prepare to face the early stages of becoming a young adult.

The first day may be scary, but it will lead to some of the happiest memories of your teenage life.You will learn so much, find so many great people and, best of all, you will develop who you are and what you want your future to be. It all begins with the first day

Learn More About Careers for Students

If you want to help people with your future career, you need to take a look at this list. And get ready to make a difference in the world.

Picking your future career can be totally overwhelming. Should you become a teacher, veterinarian, cop, dancer, or any of the other jobs you imagined when you were little?! However, though you may not know the exact career you want, you probably have at least some ideas about what you want to do with your life.

Maybe you want to use your creative skills or work with children, or maybe you want to travel a lot. And maybe, like many students, you just want to help people in some way. If that sounds like you, take a look at this list of careers for people who want to make a difference in the world.

Related: The Truth About College Majors

Medicine

One of the more obvious professions when it comes to helping people is medicine. Of course, depending on what area of health care you go into, it can take years of medical school and be a pretty big time, stress, and emotional drain. But there are also a lot of health and medicine–related careers that are more 9-to-5 friendly.

You’ll find lots of specific health and medicine jobs here; some examples include:

  • Athletic trainer
  • Corporate wellness leader
  • ER nurse
  • Laboratory technician
  • Nursing home administrator
  • Occupational therapy aid
  • Oral surgeon
  • Paramedic
  • Pediatrician
  • Pharmacologist
  • Physician assistant
  • Prosthetist
  • Public health educator
  • Recreational therapist

No matter what you do in the medical field, whether you’re searching for a two-year nursing certification, bachelor’s degree, or doctorate, you will always be helping people live their best lives. And to be perfectly practical about it, people are always going to need health care, so you will never have to worry about job security, and the pay is usually pretty good too.

Teaching

Teaching is a great profession if you want to help people, and you can truly have a life-long impact on your students. As Nelson Mandela famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Whether you want to go into elementary, secondary, or higher education, there are many opportunities to teach and empower the next generation. Most teachers can start out with a bachelor’s degree and teaching license, then work up a graduate degree later on (teaching at the college level usually requires a master’s or higher).

If classroom teaching isn’t for you, there are plenty of jobs in or related to education that might fit you too, like school administration, college or emotional counseling, or working in government entities that oversee education. Some other education-related jobs can be found here, including:

  • Childcare center teacher or director
  • Children’s book writer
  • College professor
  • Drug abuse counselor
  • Educator of the hearing-impaired
  • Elementary teacher
  • Learning disabilities teacher/consultant
  • School counselor
  • School psychologist
  • Social worker
  • Tutor/tutoring center director

Nonprofits

“Nonprofit” doesn’t automatically mean an organization is philanthropic, but many nonprofits are committed to serving the greater good and helping as many people as possible. They include organizations like the Red Cross, Oxfam, and World Wildlife Fund, among countless others. These organizations are great choices because not only are you helping people but get a great sense of purpose walking into work every morning.

You’ll find nonprofits in a wide variety of industries—and they need workers to fill almost every professional role you can think of. So you can pursue basically whatever field is the most interesting to you and look for jobs that are the best fit for your own unique skills. Some specific examples might include:

  • Chief development officer
  • Copywriter
  • Event planner
  • Fundraiser
  • Grant writer
  • Lawyer
  • Nonprofit director/administrator
  • Office manager
  • Program manager
  • Volunteer coordinator
  • Lots more nonprofit job titles here!

Law enforcement and armed services

Law enforcement and armed service members often put their lives on the line to help people—it doesn’t get much more selfless than that. Although it’s important to remember that you can get involved in law enforcement/criminal justice and even the military in positions that aren’t necessarily in the line of fire, and that’s okay too. In the military in particular, you can find positions related to practically any career interest, from engineers to music directors! Here are just a few examples:

  • CIA Agent
  • Coast Guard
  • Crime Scene Investigator
  • Criminologist
  • Emergency Management Director
  • Fish & Game Warden
  • Forensic Pathologist
  • Fraud Investigator
  • Intelligence Analyst
  • K9 Officer
  • Radar Operator
  • Sheriff
  • Special Forces Officer
  • US Marshal
  • And many more here and here

You can also support the overall mission of criminal justice organizations and military outfits in administrative roles. Whether in the US or around the world, these men and women are keeping people safe everyday.

Psychology

Similar to the medical professions above, psychology is another good health-related career for people who want to help others. You can work with any specific age group, from children to adults, helping diagnose and treat psychological disorders. Or if you’d rather work on larger projects, you can pursue a career in psychology research, where your findings can help countless people. Again, you’ll find tons of specific psychology jobs here, and some include:

  • Alcohol/drug counselor
  • Clinical psychologist
  • Lawyer
  • Probation officer
  • Psychotherapist
  • Public health officer
  • Rehabilitation therapist
  • School counselor
  • Social service aide
  • Social worker

You can find work in psychology with a bachelor’s degree, though you may need to get a master’s or doctorate, depending on what you want to do.

Faith-based organizations

Depending on where you stand on religion, working with faith-related organizations can be another meaningful choice if you want to help others in your career, since philanthropy and community outreach are such a big part of what faith groups do. This can mean becoming a priest, pastor, rabbi, or other spiritual leader, but there are also plenty of other options if you’re not looking to stand at the front of the room.

Like secular companies, religious organizations still need hire to administrative employees, like accountants, office managers, and even public relations professionals. There are also religion-based outreach and charitable organizations committed to many causes, from supporting refugees to food banks to helping the disabled, and they need help in many areas.

You’ll find more detailed job descriptions here, including these examples:

  • Chaplain
  • Clergy
  • Lawyer
  • Minister
  • Missionary
  • Pastoral counselor
  • Professor of religious studies
  • Religious educator
  • School administrator
  • Social services manager
  • Social worker
  • Theological writer
  • Therapist

Government and politics

No matter what side you’re on, it’s important to remember that most politicians get into that profession because they truly want to help people and influence meaningful changes at various levels of the government. Some examples include:

  • Attorney general
  • City manager
  • Councilman/alderman
  • Governor
  • Lieutenant Governor
  • Mayor
  • Representative
  • Secretary of state
  • Senator
  • Sheriff
  • Treasurer

You may also be able to hold some political positions part time while working in another area that interests you—that can be a lot of work, but you get to be involved in all the stuff you’re passionate about!

Whether at the local, state, or federal level, politicians get the chance to create policies that can help countless people every day. If you follow politics, are active in student organization leadership, or simply have issues you are passionate about, politics might be a good career choice for you

Get Ahead Now and After You Graduate

In college, it can sometimes seem like a handful of students know a few keys to success that you don’t. They’re taking classes just like you, but they’re also working on cool side projects and networking with professors and already making a name for themselves. What’s their secret?

It’s actually pretty simple: getting involved in activities and assuming roles that push you beyond what you think you’re capable of. What does that look like? Among many other things, you could help a professor with their research. Start your own company. Venture off campus to work in the community. All these activities can position you for bigger opportunities.

Student success means more than just getting top grades. Today’s grads need to be ready to merge their college degree into a real-world career. If you start when you’re in college, you’ll be ahead of the game on graduation day.

“It’s a powerful experience,” says John Gardner, President of the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. Close relationships with faculty, for example, develop bonds with professors who can teach you the ropes, help you get into grad school, or get a job after graduation. These experiences also introduce you to peers with similar goals. “It puts you in a context with other outstanding students,” says Gardner, “and now you’re in a powerful peer group that influences you.”

Why are these secrets?

Really, there’s no secret to it, but there are so many ways to acquire these experiences that you may simply be unfamiliar with them. Class work, labs, research, and extracurricular clubs are just the beginning.

The real world expects more than just book smarts. Employers want candidates who know how to manage their time, work well on a team, and even lead others. Graduating with those skills will enhance everything on your transcript.

Do you want to go into politics? Organize an on-campus debate or head up a major fundraiser. Do you see yourself in a corporate corner office? Work with school administrators to change or implement new policies to reflect the changing campus climate.

The following activities are also excellent avenues toward gaining unique—and uniquely applicable—experiences that will serve you well in college and beyond.

Starting your own business

Believe it or not, college is a prime time for launching a business, one that gives you a wide range of experiences, a taste of success, a taste of failure, and some real-world clout.

But you might be thinking, with classes, sports, internships, and clubs, why and how would any student launch a business? “No time is better than in college,” says Kit Needham, Associate Director and Entrepreneur-in-Residence of Project Olympus at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University. “If you are starting a business in school and if you get enough runway, you can go right into business upon graduation.”

You’ll also learn business structure out of necessity. “You learn all aspects of a business and understand the business model,” Needham says. “It’s the most intense education you’ll have, and it pushes you out of your comfort zone.”

Andy Chan, a Carnegie Mellon sophomore studying electrical and computer engineering, has already launched VIT, a company developing a smart knee brace. Despite the grueling schedule of full-time classes and work, Chan says starting a business now is worth it.

“College is the time when I felt confident enough to take on the work,” Chan says, “and the resources on campus are so rich. Many people think this is a terrible time to start a business because they think I should be focusing on school. But I have nothing to lose.” If the business fails, Chan is still in the protective and supportive college environment, he says.

“Regardless of if it works or not, it’s still a learning experience,” he says. “Just start doing it. Go out there and get your hands dirty.”

Working with professors on research—even as a non-science major

Students often get to work closely with professors during class, but if you have the chance, find out how you can work with a professor on research too. And before you think “Pshhh, that’s not for me. I’m not studying the sciences,” remember that research projects can be found in practically all disciplines, and getting involved not only means conducting fascinating work but also gaining valuable professional credibility.

“It deepens their understanding of the world and what it is they are studying,” says Jamee Moudud, an economics professor at Sarah Lawrence College. Textbooks, he says, can only teach so much, but when students perform research, they draw on information across many disciplines and gain hands-on insight. “They are learning how to be a researcher and how to pose questions,” he says. “That’s so important.”

Many professors invite students to present their research at conferences, so you’ll get an opportunity to get comfortable mingling with others in your field and talking about your research. “When they go to an employer, they are in a position to take the initiative,” says Moudud. “It becomes second nature to them—that creative, innovative instinct.”

Branching out into the community

You can further expand your horizons by working in the surrounding community, where you’ll gain a new perspective of your school as an outsider as well as valuable “real-world” understanding.

Arnold Robinson, an assistant visiting professor at Roger Williams University and Director of its Community Partnerships Center (CPC), says off-campus work shows students how what they’re learning will translate into a career. “They get a sense of how their discipline really gets used out in the real world,” he says. “You want those learning experiences to test the ‘Is this what I want to be doing?’ question.” Students learn how to make presentations, work with clients, and run effective meetings.

Leaha Bovino, who earned both her undergrad and graduate degrees at Roger Williams, says her project manager role at a local library gave her an honest look at issues like the intersection of creativity and budget limitations. Mostly, however, she saw what her future career could look like.

“The CPC projects were like a light bulb clicking on,” she says. “It melded my two academic studies and validated that I was doing the right thing. I had hope there was a future in this, and I saw how I fit into the picture.”

Dabbling in consulting roles

If you can tailor your work to your post-grad dreams, you’ll gain experience employers want to see.

Tatiana Andrade, a sophomore at Stonehill College, is a finance major with her sights set on becoming a financial advisor. Shocked at the lack of financial literacy amongst her peers, Andrade decided to help educate her classmates and also gain some real-world experience by becoming an ambassador for SALT, an educational program on several college campuses nationwide that helps students make smarter financial decisions. She runs seminars on spending, saving, and borrowing money, explaining everything from budgets to student loan repayment steps.

As a SALT ambassador, Andrade uses her classroom experience to mirror the requirements of any post-graduation job. With each seminar, she becomes more comfortable organizing her thoughts and talking in front of a group. And she builds on her work and reputation to position herself as a young expert in the financial field.

Diving into the challenge

Are there drawbacks for extending yourself? Of course, says Carnegie Mellon’s Andy Chan. Balancing multiple demands on your time is difficult. But the resources available to college students are exceptional, and many businesses and individuals will help students in ways they might not help recent grads. “It’s a wonderful learning moment,” says Arnold Robinson at Roger Williams. “Things fail, and that’s okay. How do we get things back on track? You learn just as much when things go wrong. You are being self-managed, but you still have the academic support network you can turn to.”

All the while, you’ll establish qualities employers seek. “Employers aren’t asking ‘What did you learn?’ but ‘What can you do?’” says Robinson. And students find this work not only beefs up their résumé but also boosts their confidence.

Worried About Finishing College on Time

It’s every college student’s worst nightmare: not graduating in that four-year timeframe. Worse, you could spend six years in college—or longer—and still not have a degree.

As scary as it may seem, this is the reality for countless college students across the country. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, less than half of all full-time students pursuing a bachelor’s degree finish in four years, and this figure only goes up to 60% when accounting for students who graduate in six. But don’t let these statistics discourage you. You can finish college on time—even if things are looking iffy.

Here are some handpicked tips to help you graduate from college on time. So you can be the exception, not the rule.

Schedule a meeting with your academic advisor

If you’re concerned about graduating on time, your academic advisor’s office should be your very first stop.

Academic advisors are equipped to help college students stay on track for graduation and answer any questions students might have about their class schedules. Their job is literally to advise, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of their services. Chances are your academic advisor will be more than willing to sit down with you to address your concerns about finishing college on time. They can assist you in devising a personalized game plan to promote your academic success, and they can point you to other campus resources if necessary (like the bursar or financial aid office).

If your college or university doesn’t already provide designated academic advisors for its students, then consider scheduling an appointment with your college’s equivalent. Whether that means trekking to the academic resource center or paying a visit to your campus guidance counselor, there are many college resources available to guide you.

Make sure your major is the right fit for you

If you haven’t decided on a major yet, don’t panic. You’re not alone. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 85% of students change their major at least once during their college career!

While most students worry that switching majors will result in them taking longer to graduate than expected, recent research has shown that students who change their majors in college are actually morelikely to graduate on time than those who don’t.

And why is that? We don’t know for sure, but we do know that as human beings, our passions and interests are constantly evolving, so it’s important that our choice of major reflects that. By selecting the field of study that’s right for you, you’ll be exposed to major-related courses that appeal to your interests. Before you know it, you’ll be looking forward to your college classes, making them go by faster than you think.

Consider changing your course load

One effective way of ensuring that you graduate on time is by enrolling in more credit hours during the school year. Although most college students only need to take 12 credit hours per semester to attain full-time status, most schools require their students to complete at least 120 hours of course work to obtain a bachelor’s degree. That translates to 10 semesters—or five years of undergraduate study. So for students entering college with little or no previously obtained college credit, really the magic number of hours to take in any given semester is 15.

Obviously, enrolling in “extra” classes and earning additional college credit is easier said than done. Financial aid and scholarships may or may not cover extra courses. And depending on the classes you’re in and the amount of time you can realistically devote to preparing for each one, taking 15 credit hours a semester may not be a viable option for you.

Luckily, there are other ways of maximizing the number of credit hours you can comfortably earn at a given time. Arguably the best way is to take courses over your school’s semester breaks. Most colleges already allow students to enroll in courses during summer and/or winter break in order to get basic major requirements taken care of. Some schools even offer online classes for students who might find it difficult or inconvenient to commute to campus.

Many of these online and in-person courses can be taken for a reasonable fee, but if your college or university charges more than you’re able (or willing) to pay, similar classes may be offered through your local community college. If you go this route, just be sure to familiarize yourself with your college’s transfer credit policy first, because they can vary a lot from school to school.

Finally, you may be able to earn credit for internships or other extracurricular experiences, though, again, you’ll need to check in with your academic advisor to figure out if this is a viable option for you.

So while graduating on time may seem daunting, try to relax and take a deep breath. Also remember that it’s largely okay if you simply can’t graduate in four years; it may be complicated—both logistically and financially—but it’s doable, and there are people at your college who can help you. In any case, these tips for graduating on time are a great place to start. And with the right system in place, you’ll finish your college degree in no time