How I Chose My Major: Four Students Share Their Process

Author: Shannon Rooney

Don't know what you want to major in? No problem. At Notre Dame, discernment is an important part of the undergraduate experience. Your interests and passions can shift and change over time. You may get to campus with one intended major and take a class that piques your interest in another. Or, you may want to add a minor you didn't know about before your enrollment. There are many options available to you. 

That's why we have resources to help students choose the academic path that's right for them. They include First Year Advising, an office that provides every first-year student with an advisor to support them as they transition to college, make academic progress, and explore all Notre Dame has to offer, inside and outside of the classroom. The Center for Career Development also offers assistance with major and career discernment, as do advisors within your college or school.   

The process of selecting a major is personal to each student and it's not always a straight path. Here's how four students decided on their majors based on their experiences and interests. 


Christian Dennis '20
Mishawaka, IN
Civil Engineering major 

The path toward my major was not without winding. When I was in grade school, I wanted to be just like my mom and work in a medical profession, but over time, my interests shifted toward math, physics, and engineering. So when I applied to Notre Dame, I applied as an aerospace engineering major. My thought was that rocket science must be the hardest of them all, so if I make it as an aerospace major, then I can probably switch around if need be.

Thankfully, my first-year advisor had more sensible major discernment plans than simply switching around. Through her guidance and through the College of Engineering's first year program, I learned more about my goals and what different engineering disciplines looked like. I recognized that my life goal was to help people while doing challenging work that excited me. Civil engineering captured my attention with its grand bridges and impossible skyscrapers. I am proud to be a Notre Dame Civil engineer.


Julia Pesola '21
Manhattan, NY
Architecture major, Irish Language and Literature minor

Ever since I was little, the thought of being an architect has always been in the back of my mind. When trying to discern my college major, I thought about my main interests. I knew that I really liked art and design, but I also enjoyed all of my math and science classes in school. I feel like with most majors, you either get all of the arts or all of the sciences, and there is little in-between. However, upon doing research about different majors, I realized architecture combines both the arts and the sciences!

Architecture is unique in that it is a field that is based in art and design, but also strongly relies on math and science to ensure that buildings can stand up and function properly. Thus, when coming to ND, I was fairly certain that architecture was the right choice for me. As a junior looking back on this decision, I have complete confidence that it was the right choice! From taking sketching classes and learning how to watercolor to learning about physics and math and structures, I feel like architecture is the perfect union of the arts and sciences, and is the best education one could possible receive. 


Tajae Thompson '22
West Palm Beach, FL
English and Business major

I decided that I wanted an English major in my junior year of high school. I had always held a passion for English, which was encouraged by all of my teachers during my secondary school education. Even though I am an English major, I do not want to be a teacher but I would like to attend law school. I feel that the analytical skills that I will learn through the English major will benefit me, not only in law school but in my professional career as well.

Toward the end of the first semester of my first year, I decided to apply to Mendoza College of Business, and fortunately, I was accepted. I am happy to say that I am truly enjoying all of my classes, but I still have to pick a major. Mendoza requires all second-year students to take “Sequence Two” courses, which are required introductory business courses. The classes include Accountancy I and II, Principles of Marketing, Corporate Financial Management, IT Management, Principles of Management, and more. Right now, my two favorite classes are marketing and accounting. I do not have to decide on my major until February of 2020, so that leaves me time to finish marketing and accounting one and two. I plan to choose a major based on which I enjoy more after becoming more exposed to both fields, and how I perform in the classes.

Sarah H

Sarah Holland '21
New York, NY
Economics major, Accounting minor

I started my freshman year in the College of Arts and Letters intending to major in political science. I had always been interested in current affairs and thought I may be interested in attending law school after college, so I chose political science. However, after taking a microeconomics course and studying economics in an International Relations course during my first year, I realized I was more interested in the economy than politics. I decided to change my major to economics. I know I made the right choice, because my economics courses are my favorite classes and I’ve gotten to take several unique electives!

After doing an internship in the finance industry last summer, I decided to add the new accounting minor. This is the perfect addition to my course of study because it allows me to prepare for a career in finance or business while still having the flexibility of being in the College of Arts and Letters.

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