Top 12 Tips for Exploratory Students

  1. Talk to students. When you get to AU and start taking classes beyond gen-eds (you will likely try out the majors you are interested in) ask people in your classes why they chose to study [Blank] major. It might feel awkward at first, but more than likely asking someone about their passions could help you get a sense for the department and you might even make a new friend! 
  2. Read about it/Research it. Search Google, read pamphlets in the department, and investigate the types of careers or internships people complete with specific majors. Some majors are more flexible than others. When you start looking around, you might notice that people apply their undergrad majors to the job market in surprising ways. 
  3. Reflect and be honest. Listen to what you feel and think. Don’t get caught up in prestige or supposed practicality. At the end of the day, your major needs to be something you truly possess a passion for.
  4. While it may seem that everyone has picked their major on the first day of freshmen year, chances are that most of your fellow freshmen have no idea what they will pursue in the future.
  5. Go talk to the professors that teach classes you love. See if their research topics or professional careers match up with your own interests and goals. Every single professor loves to talk about their field and offer advice to interested students.
  6. Try to find upperclassmen in the different areas of study you are interested in. Get in contact with the CAS Peer Affiliates!
  7. Checking out different clubs that focus on a topic you may want to major in can help you explore different options.  Not only do the clubs typically have free food, you also get the chance to talk to students and professors that deal with this major and opportunities to partake in some activities that may help you decide on picking that major.  Some good examples are Eco-sense, Psychology Club and Accounting Club.  
  8. If your friend suggests a class because it is ‘easy’, know that it will be more beneficial to take a course that may push you a bit more–as a senior, the classes that made me think helped me figure out my major a lot faster than the ones that didn’t ask much from me. 
  9. Take it with a grain of salt: Every now and then you might cross someone that is in the profession you’re considering to take on and maybe they haven’t enjoyed that job. Make sure to ask for other people’s opinions because you never know if you just got someone on a bad day. 
  10. Take advantage of this amazing city. If you decided to come to American University I’m sure it’s location factored into the equation when you sent in your deposit. While there is a lot to get involved in on campus, the entire city is out there for you to explore and learn from. With this, notice if there are any patterns in what you like to do in the city and what you get tired of. This could open your eyes to some interests worth exploring.
  11. Develop meaningful connections. Whether it’s a professor, faculty member, academic advisor, friend, etc, there are always opportunities to learn from other people. Some of these relationships can turn into “mentor-ships” that can lead you to discover some things you’re interested in or potential career paths.
  12. Talk to EVERYONE. Really. I have gotten out of having conversations with people at random moments- on bus rides home, sitting in DuPont circle, at coffee shops downtown- over the past few years. Being engaged in conversation and asking questions to get to know others will teach you much more than if you remain silent. People like to tell their story—so sit back and let them tell it!
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