Published: Oct. 11, 2023

Person sitting on the grass with a laptopAre you trying to determine what you want to major in at CU Boulder? Many first-year students enter college under Exploratory Studies or change their major after their first semester or year of study. It is OK to need extra support making this decision. Career Services and other departments offer free resources to help you consider your interests and strengths and explore the different paths toward a degree.  

Here are tips to help guide you during your search for a major or academic program. 

Think about what you enjoy learning 

While you’ve just started your journey at CU, you can still think about your current classes and high school classes when considering the subject areas you most and least enjoy.  

Consider these questions: 

  • What subjects interested you most in high school? For example, did you enjoy solving challenging math problems, or did you love learning about history?  
  • What are you good at academically? For example, are you good at analyzing data, conducting science experiments or writing essays? 
  • What causes or ideas excite you? For example, do you love supporting social justice initiatives, protesting environmental issues or participating in robotic competitions?  
  • What classes or activities feel too hard or boring? For example, did you hate reading classic novels in English class or dread chemistry homework?  

By exploring the study areas and activities you love or dislike, you can rule out certain majors and focus on those that fit your preferences. 

If you are unsure about your current major but have clear ideas about your career interests and goals, you may want to set up informational interviews with professionals in your fields of interest. You can ask about their academic journey to learn how it influenced them professionally. A common theme to come out of these is that a major doesn’t have to equal a career. 

Explore different career paths  

You can use online tools to help you explore how different majors relate to various careers. These tools can help you narrow your interests or reflect on the possibilities based on your goals and abilities. 

Check out these resources offered by Career Services: 

  • Explore the website, What Can I Do with This Major? to help you learn about the multitude of careers connected to each major and the types of employers hiring for those roles. You can start by looking at 96 of the most common majors to see the typical career areas, strategies for becoming a marketable candidate, resources like industry-specific job boards and professional associations and more. 
  • Try the Majors Card Sort, a free online tool that can help you explore and narrow down your interests. Using a series of questions, the tool can help you identify top CU majors that align with your goals. 
  • Use the Design Your Life mind map for a nonlinear guide to reflect on your career and academic possibilities. This short exercise stimulates your thinking around the activities and experiences you most enjoy. 
  • Take the YouScience free assessment offered through Career Services. It uses a series of brain games to measure your aptitudes. The results include a review of your natural strengths and interests and how they match potential careers. You can then explore different academic programs to help you get started in those careers. To discover more about YouScience and gain access, connect with Career Services during office hours

Follow up with research 

Once you narrow down to a few study areas, you can research those majors to determine whether they are a good fit.  

  • Run a degree audit to understand the required courses and credit hours needed to graduate. Department websites and the university catalog provide additional information.  
  • Talk with an academic advisor to learn more about the details of the academic program. You can ask questions about the area of study to determine if it matches your interests and goals. Visit advising open hours or make an appointment with your advisor.  
  • Ralphie’s Advising Help Lab also offers advising help. While the lab doesn't replace appointments with your academic advisor, it is a supplemental resource that allows you to access general advising or enrollment help quickly and conveniently. The help lab’s advisors can assist with things like dropping courses, switching majors and answering other advising questions. 
  • Attend events related to the majors or academic programs you want to research. Check out upcoming student events and browse the CU Events Calendar to find upcoming events.

Stay positive 

Choosing a major can feel overwhelming because it will impact your college experience and career choices. Yet, you can maintain a positive outlook and have fun exploring your options. Try out a few tips over the semester to see if you can narrow your choices and discover a major that aligns with your interests and goals. For more information, check out Find a Major from Career Services.