Choosing a Major

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by FlyingFish, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. FlyingFish

    FlyingFish New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2019
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    2
    I recently received an LOA from the Naval Academy and as ecstatic as I am (Nearly cried tears of joy) the very real possibility of me getting offered an appointment hit me. What would I choose as a major? Almost ALL of the majors appeal to me in more ways than one. From chemistry and Electrical Engineering to Arabic and Russian, all of them interest me. So the question is, how do I choose? I have been going over the course curriculum/ requirements on the website and managed to narrow it down a bit (I think I reluctantly knocked off physics and Econ)

    For those of you who have either been, knew people that have attended, or currently applying and have a major decided, please tell me why/ how did you come about the decision? And how did it work out?
     
  2. ProudDad2022

    ProudDad2022 Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2017
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    82
    Not trying to diminish the importance of choosing your major but, I will say that you definitely have time. If I remember correctly, you do not have to choose a major until the end of your 3C (sophomore) year. I'm pretty sure there will be many decisions to panic about before you have to panic about this one :)
     
    BuckeyeRN likes this.
  3. THParent

    THParent Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2017
    Messages:
    1,875
    Likes Received:
    2,886
    The good news is that you don't have to choose, right away. My DS went in knowing 100% that he wants to major in one thing, then last semester he was introduced to another thing that blew his socks off.
    He is really starting to love the other thing, and if he was at a civilian college, he would just do a double-major and do both things. At USNA, you can have your major and also minor in a foreign language, but a double-major is not available. He still loves thing one, but thing two is gaining legs. We will see if he ends up changing his mind, by the end of his Plebe Year (when he has to declare a Major).

    Pick a major that you can fall back upon after you get out of the Navy or Marine Corps, but most of all pick a major that you can see yourself doing at 2 0'clock in the morning, and not hate that you're up that early doing it.
     
    FlyingFish, mcfamilyof4 and Devil Doc like this.
  4. FutureMarine07

    FutureMarine07 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2018
    Messages:
    114
    Likes Received:
    70
    What do you want to be? If you want to be a meteorologist or ship builder/designer, take oceanography or ocean engineering. (respectively). If you want to be a pilot, aeronautical engineering would be good. If you want to be cyber, cyber operations would fit. Also take into account what you want to be after you retire from the military. Also, you'll have most of plebe year to decide. You'll get to experience the classes, and talk to an academic advisor. Continue narrowing what you are interested in, both in terms of the classes you'll take, to your job in the Navy/Marine Corps, and life in the civilian sector, and what major will fit best with that. Good luck for C/O 2023!
     
  5. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 10-Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2008
    Messages:
    5,241
    Likes Received:
    7,051
    There will be briefs upon briefs about all the decisions, choices and options facing you.

    There will be upper class from your company, varsity/club team if you’re doing that, and from any ECAs (Glee Club, Model UN, etc.) who will be in all the different majors, and you can gain insight.
     
  6. ProudDad2022

    ProudDad2022 Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2017
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    82
    I will defer to THParent's knowledge and amend my answer. Looks like I was giving you an extra year to choose. I haven't checked with the academy but I'm pretty sure I do not have that authority :)
     
    THParent likes this.
  7. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Messages:
    5,668
    Likes Received:
    2,317
    Two things to consider: What do you like and what are you good at?

    Major in something you like b/c you want to enjoy your major courses. There's a lot at USNA you may not like, your major shouldn't be on that list.

    Major in something you're good at b/c grades count -- toward all sorts of things, the most important of which is service selection. And you don't want to struggle academically -- makes life miserable.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  8. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2018
    Messages:
    1,231
    Likes Received:
    1,506
    A few clarifications, from the parent of a curent mid:

    1) Mids must declare a major in 2nd semester of plebe year. As noted above, there are plenty of briefings and fairs to learn more. The smart ones start exploring long before then, by proactively querying upperclassmen and professors. (If you validate several classes, you might even start your major curriculum in 2nd semester, so again, pays to think ahead.)

    2) Your major has little (no?) bearing on what you’ll do immediately after graduation. For example, there are many aviators who never took aero engineering as a class, much less as a major. Abd sure, being a cyber major may give you a leg up once you’re in the job, but whether you get the job to begin with depends on factors well beyond your major.

    3) As noted above, choose a major you’re truly interested in. USNA is a grind, with many obligations beyond academics. The course load is heavy and the pressure intense. So you’d better enjoy the subject or you could be in for a painful time.
     
    FlyingFish and 23Lt like this.
  9. Love4monsters

    Love4monsters Member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2016
    Messages:
    622
    Likes Received:
    543
    A double major is not attainable at USNA?
     
  10. Aina Haina

    Aina Haina Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2017
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    71
    First of all, congratulations on the LOA--well done. Second, don't worry about your major just yet. You will need to declare in Spring (March, I believe) of your plebe year. There are numerous briefs and scheduled times to get introduced to the many departments on the Yard. Many MIDN start with a definite idea of what to major in, only to discover it is not what they expected. Others have no idea as to what to study and end up in majoring in a subject they would have never imagined. Enjoy the journey and discovery of what you may want to study.

    As all the others in this thread have posted, pick a major that you can see yourself doing at 11:45 at night on a Thursday, with a 5:30 PT wake up call the next morning. All kidding aside, you will figure it out and keep in mind your major does not correlate with what you will do in the fleet. USNA has variety and you are fortunate you find all the offerings appealing. One, however, you will have to pass on...Russian. They don't offer it, at least right now.

    Have a great time discovering yourself...
     
    FlyingFish likes this.
  11. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Messages:
    5,668
    Likes Received:
    2,317
    Double majors are very hard and will require you validating a fair number of courses. The reason is that you already have so many mandatory courses/hours with one major that it’s almost impossible to get in the requirements for a second. That said, a few do it.
     
    Love4monsters likes this.
  12. helmsdown

    helmsdown Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    171
    Likes Received:
    219
    You can double major. You can validate enough courses, you can take summer school. DD opted for Applied Mathematics and Economics. There is some overlap between the two majors. She also validated a semesters worth of core requirements.
     
    5centsmom and Love4monsters like this.
  13. OldRetSWO

    OldRetSWO USNA 78/parent 11/BGO for >25yrs 5-Year Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2010
    Messages:
    564
    Likes Received:
    689
    Not to pick on you here but as a USNA graduate who is still in touch with a LOT of classmates, I can truly tell you that almost NONE ended up working within their majors. I majored in International Security Affairs (Political Science) and ended up working as a Program Engineer/Program Manager/etc in Aerospace Technology. I literally ran part of the transition to production of the Trident II guidance system and then was the Design Configuration Manager for PHALANX and reviewed and approved over 10,000 design changes to that critical fleet system. One of my roommates majored in Latin American Studies (Spanish) and literally became a Rocket Scientist and ran a Space research division for a major corporation. One close classmate had almost the same jobs as me after majoring in Aeronautical Engineering which was very useful to him as a Submarine Nuke. I can easily go on and on with lots and lots of classmates and grads that I know.
    The most common area that I see is a variant of Project or Program Management as opposed to straight up design engineering. After serving as a military officer and being exposed to lots of technology along with people skills, it seems that many employers want us to manage technology and the people of various levels who actually create/build/maintain it. Another significant portion end up as lawyers
    (including a couple on this site).
    I totally agree with finding something that you're interested in and (very important) one that you can do well in.
     
    landlock, FlyingFish and MidCakePa like this.
  14. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Messages:
    5,668
    Likes Received:
    2,317
    Absolutely agree with OldRetSWO. As a general rule, your undergraduate major has almost nothing to do with you end up doing in life. This is especially true with USNA. One caveat . . . . if you want to go Nuke (SWO or sub), you may have an easier time at Nuke Power School with a STEM major. That said, more than a few folks have done extremely well at NPS having majored in History or English, etc., so it's not an absolute requirement.

    What MAY matter for your future should you decide get out before your 20+ years, is where you go to grad school. If you decide to attend grad school (MBA, law, medicine, Master's), it IS important to select a GOOD grad school, as (fair or not), it will make a huge difference in where you are hired and how much you will likely earn. Having a USNA degree and time as an officer will make you desirable for most grad schools. Having done well academically at USNA (grad schools care about your academic OOM, not your overall OOM) will make you even more desirable, which goes back to my original point of majoring in something that you're good at. If you make the military a career, what you majored in at USNA is even less important when transitioning to the civilian sector -- because it was 20+ years ago!!
     
    AF6872, Capt MJ and MidCakePa like this.
  15. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    1,488
    Likes Received:
    2,248
    NOPE -- Aero is good if you want to be a test pilot. There is no need to be an aero major to be a pilot. (I had a pilots license when I was 17 years old--trust me, it isn't rocket science).

    I went to USNA thinking I wanted to be an aero major because I wanted to fly. I also knew that my skills/brain were more wired toward Political Science. I was sold during one of the Majors briefs , when a Marine Captain showed stood up at the Poli Sci brief, asked how many wanted were thinking about aero because they wanted to fly (and more than a few raised their hands), he looked at us ...and then stated "That's Bullsh!t......I'm a Poli Sci major and the best damn pilot in the Marine Corps..." I went Poli Sci, loved it , and did well. (As an aside, the Poli Sci degree at USNA is unlike any liberal arts school...you will receive enough STEM that you understand how things work, can handle anything technical, and on top of that, can write intelligently about it !)

    Alot of good advice here, particularly those saying do what you like, not what you think you should do, and also very few really end up working with in their chosen major. The USNA education is good, but the true value lies in the overall experience. Your time at USNA, and in the Fleet, will prepare you to work with and lead people, and that is a skill way more valuable than what degree you get.
     
    BuckeyeRN, Capt MJ and MidCakePa like this.
  16. Blessedmom

    Blessedmom Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2016
    Messages:
    479
    Likes Received:
    344
    @FlyingFish congrats! You can double major if you validate enough classes. During Plebe summer son validated enough classes, he is a double major in engineering and Chinese with minor in Japanese. Please take a calculator with you for Plebe summer, son said he wish he had? Down side of having a double major (esp. with engineering) is he cannot do a semester aboard during school year because of his class load. He will prob go Nuke Sub.
     
    5centsmom likes this.
  17. justdoit19

    justdoit19 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2017
    Messages:
    971
    Likes Received:
    1,003
    Wonderful information! I have been wondering about many things mentioned here. DS went in with a strong desire for a certain major. After completing his first semester, speaking with lots of upperclassmen/women, and attending briefs this week, he is VERY excited about two majors that were not on his radar. So, my advice is to not stress about it. And tell your parents that USNA will do a very, very good job informing and guiding you! I would guess that MOST young men/women entering ANY college will probably find that what they thought they wanted to be when the grew up is different than reality.

    My DD who attended civilian college changed her major 3 times.....
     
  18. justdoit19

    justdoit19 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2017
    Messages:
    971
    Likes Received:
    1,003
    There seems to be two camps regarding 'pick you major':

    1) Pick what you love to do at USNA because it will not have any bearing on what you actually do in the fleet OR when your Navy career is over and you head to the civilian world.
    2) Pick what you enjoy, keeping in mind civilian employment in that field.

    DS is excited about Ocean Engineering. Any other major I would not think twice about, but is I do wonder if this will limit his post navy career options to a coastal region? From the Midwest here, don't see many OE's at the mall :)
     
  19. OldRetSWO

    OldRetSWO USNA 78/parent 11/BGO for >25yrs 5-Year Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2010
    Messages:
    564
    Likes Received:
    689
    The real key is the word "Engineering" as opposed to the specialization "Ocean". When I was leading the design reviews and approvals for the PHALANX system (radar controlled gun) in industry, my lead design engineer who served as my key technical goto guy was an Ocean Engineering major out of URI (Univ of Rhode Island). Considering that the design changes involved a wide range of Mechanical, Electrical, Computer and Systems Engineering issues, about the only specialty that was NOT in play was Ocean but he did a splendid job.
    .
    Please don't worry about your son choosing Ocean Eng. In the big scheme of things, upon graduation, he will be an
    Ocean Engineering graduate from the Naval Academy. (emphasis intentional)
     
  20. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Messages:
    5,668
    Likes Received:
    2,317
    Current mids/very recent grads think that your USNA major is important for your military career and/or later in life. Those of us who've graduated, served and moved on to other careers know it's not.