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Undecided on a Major? Follow this simple but effective method to help narrow your options

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Deciding on a major is not as difficult as people make it out to be, taking your time is key.

You have just graduated high-school and are now excited to go off and undertake your career path, which you expect to excel in. You are sure of your decided major, it is something you always wanted to do since you were a kid. Now that you have set your mind on your major; you now consider another subject you wish to minor in. Having a passion and drive to undertake the subject, but fear falling-short. A simple but but proven method may alleviate some of your worries and that is “Interval-studying” (or interval-learning).

Hal Pashler and John Wixted, professors of psychology at UC San Diego, led a study of whether crowding information into your brain in a short-span of time is more beneficial than long intervals, between study sessions.

Pashler and Wixted conducted a study which involved over 1,000 individuals where some were taught information at different lapses of time. Some participants were involved in sessions that were held minutes apart daily, for over a year. While another group had sessions every month or so and after about one year, the groups were then tested.

“Not surprisingly, when the interval between the second session and the test was increased, memory got worse – reflecting the familiar curve of forgetting. The interesting finding, however, was that increasing the time between the study sessions reduced the rate of forgetting. This reduction in forgetting was very large – sometimes increasing the likelihood that information would be recalled in the final session by 50 percent,” says reporter, Inga Kiddera, of UC San Diego.

Essentially, the mind is giving a generous grace-period for the individual to retain and hold acquired knowledge. This is good news for students who want to further develop a field, or engage in a minor in which they had a desire for while pursuing their major, but felt unsure.

During high-school many students have no career path at all in-mind. Four years in high-school will fly-by with expediency; so deciding a career-path early as possible is best, that is if you want to alleviate some of the stress that usually occurs with it.

Brigham Young University (BYU) conducted an interview with Rachel Meiling, a sophmore who was attending. Like many students, Meiling had conflicting thoughts as to what career she should pursue, or whether it was ideal to pursue a career at all. “Meiling declared herself a pre-dietetics major when she first came to BYU but has since considered a variety of majors by taking introductory courses in dietetics, nursing and anatomy, in addition to a career exploration course. She then narrowed the choice down to either nursing or athletic training,” Says Alyssa Neilsen, author of The Daily Universe.

Considering how Meiling had career options that related to each-other one way or another, it would make interval-studying more easier to perform in her case. Dietitians must be knowledgeable of foods that are proper for the body and are not. In-order to nurse a person back to health; the individual must be aware of the functioning of each body-part, which corresponds to anatomy. In this case, Pashler’s method would not be very necessary. This is best applied to careers varying greatly. For example: a student is taking up math as a career but then decides health-science as a minor. In this situation, the interval-study method would be most practical.

Utilizing the interval-study method can help others who are facing the same dilemma as Meiling. It eases the process of deciding a major and even helps in finding alternate career paths. Here are a few practical ideas to take advantage of:

1. Decide on your major soon as possible

Deciding your career-path should been done early as possible, amid your high-school years and if possible, prior. Many students make the mistake of deciding in a major in which they thought was “the one” but usually end up switching it a few semesters later. This only leads to additional years in college that extends your expected-graduation-date and also lead to more money out of your pockets. This usually happens when students rush and never truly look into what they believe it is they want to pursue. According to Pashler when it comes to retaining information for long periods of time, the worst thing a person can do cram in the information, in short periods of time.

2. Take time to take time

Now that you have decided on a major you can now periodically take time to learn additional information, that may lead to a minor. Majors and minors are life-time careers and according to Pashler’s study, if you plan on remembering something for over 10 years. Give a good amount of space between each study session utilizing the interval-study method. If last month you devoted time to learn a subject, take the next month or two off before you go back to it. The end result is that the brain will adapt itself to remember, things acquired over long spans of time.

3. Be yourself

Everyone has different gifts and talents, find what inspires you most. Even though you have a desire to do something, that does not mean you will be good at it.

Use the Interval-study method to take it slow and learn your particular interest. The “interval study method” even leaves enough room for you to study another subject on the side, that you also fancy and wish to pursue.

Jerrod Fasan