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Determining An Academic Interest

Stephen Friedfeld, PhD

Determining an academic interest

Stephen Friedfeld, PhD

If you’re like many students, you may have several academic interests. How are you supposed to select a major and demonstrate interest to colleges when you’re curious about two, three or even more subjects? Below are some suggestions that will allow you to get a more in-depth understanding of various academic subjects and how they can eventually relate to different career opportunities.

Visit colleges’ websites. Explore their list of majors and departments. Many colleges will have several majors housed under each department. If you are interested in science, then explore the website of a large research university to discover the many specialties within the core science subjects of biology, chemistry, and physics. If you are interested in the humanities, visit the website of a liberal arts college to see how various subjects can be brought together through an interdisciplinary program. You will likely discover new majors and academic fields that you never even knew existed!

Take an online class. Visit your local community college’s website and inquire about taking a college-level class. Look for special courses that are not offered at your high school. If the community college doesn’t have any classes of interest to you, try finding a MOOC (massive open online course) offered on websites such as edX or Coursera.

Explore summer programs. Many colleges, universities, and organizations offer online summer programs that will allow you to explore various academic subjects. Take a look at school websites for more information.

Take a strengths assessment test. Talk to your guidance counselor to see if they offer any strengths assessment tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. At AcceptU, we also offer various strengths assessment tests to our students.

Exploring and narrowing down academic interests is a good preliminary step to gaining deeper and more meaningful extracurricular experiences. In turn, with clearer interests, you will be able to submit a more focused and compelling college application.




Stephen Friedfeld is the co-founder and COO of AcceptU. He received a BA from Cornell University, an MA from Columbia University Teachers College, and a Ph.D. from Rice University. Prior to founding AcceptU, Stephen was an Assistant Dean of admissions at Cornell for four years and an Associate Dean of graduate admissions at Princeton University for six years. Stephen is an IECA Associate Member.

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