College is a time for self-discovery and learning, both inside and outside of the class.

In terms of academia, your education will be largely influenced by your chosen major. Whether American media has made this clear or not, much of your time in college will be spent learning in the classroom, not just drinking at parties.

Therefore, it’s important to choose a major that lies within your passions and interests, and will guide you in future career decisions. As many wise, clichéd old men have said, “Do what you love, and the money will follow.”

Or just pick a major that will bring you money, and then try to learn to love it—whatever floats your boat.

The incredible plethora of available majors may seem overwhelming for students unsure about their life goals. From well-known degrees in communication or business, to the lesser known narrative studies and visual anthropology, the variety of potential choices often leaves students reeling. 

When picking a major, consider not only your interests, but your strengths as well. Research different career paths that people within certain majors tend to pursue. Weigh different programs by considering the faculty involved and the opportunities that each school can afford you. Also, think about how much schooling you are willing to commit to in the future. 

If you can’t pick one major, pick two if your schedule allows. If you’d like room for spontaneous, intriguing classes or if you want to study abroad, declaring a minor can help you pursue your interests in diverse fields while leaving you with a more flexible schedule.

Students at the University of Southern California shared their own insight as to how they settled on their fields of study.

Drew Boxley chose economics as his major because it combined his interests and skills: “I came in as a [psychology] major, because I liked understanding people. But [during] my second semester [in] senior year, I took an [economics] class and was really good at it. I've always been really good with numbers, and I view economics as an applied psychology, sort of like how physics is an applied math. Economics allowed me to combine my interests in ‘psych’ and math.”

Morgan Furlong picked international relations as her major and playwriting as her minor because of her diverse passions: “When I came to USC, I knew that I wanted to spend time abroad, and that the international relations programs had amazing travel opportunities and an impressive faculty as well. As for my minor, playwriting allowed me to pursue my love of theater and writing, while also leaving me room in my schedule to take other fun and interesting classes at ‘SC.”

Communications major Alix Fitch chose to study this field because of her professional aspirations: “I decided to pursue a major in communications for the wide number of avenues that it allows me to pursue in my professional career. I wanted the flexibility of being able to work in any type of environment, specifically in the field of sports business. Having a communications degree ensures that I will have the best understanding and capability to manage the most crucial and fundamental building blocks of being successful in the chaotic world we live in today.”

As an aerospace engineering major, Brendan Plecque knew what he would be studying long before his acceptance to USC: “I chose it because when I was 6 years old, I watched Top Gun and thought the planes were the coolest things in the world. Ever since then I knew I wanted to work on airplanes. So, aerospace engineering seemed like the only answer.”

Brad Silling chose architecture as his major because he “wanted to do something creative that has a tangible impact on the world. Architecture forces you to learn from tones of disciplines and allows you to work in many areas of design and engineering.”

“I always knew that I wanted to go into business,” said Maggie Lanter, a business major. “Everyone in my family is in business; my dad owns his own business. In terms of myself, I was always thought I had natural business acumen. It also helps that business is a practical major that helps you get a job.” 

Choosing your major is an important decision that will significantly impact your learning experience. Remember though, your major is important, but it is not what will define you. It is up to you (not your diploma) to ultimately shape your life.