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How to choose your college major in 4 steps

Updated: Nov 22, 2022



Ever been stumped by this question? Ever wondered just what you should be filling out against that field in your Ashoka University application? Do Math, Computer Science, Economics, Data science, Entrepreneurship, Psychology, Political Science – all have you in a bind? Getting you to switch between head and heart, and then Dad says this, well-meaning uncle says that and you switch some more? Worry not – we’ve all been through similar indecision and angst! And help comes from an unexpected quarter! The Japanese lead us down a simple, elegant path straight to an answer. Interested? Read on!


It is called ikigai (pronounced ‘ee-kee-guy’). Simply translated, it means ‘reason to live’.

Delve a little deeper and it stands for a ‘sense of purpose and fulfilment in life’. Something that makes you want to jump out of bed each morning and really want to go do that job. That when you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. A slightly westernised take on the core concept developed variously over time by Jim Collins, Andres Zuzunaga, Dan Buettner and Mark Winn helps us find our answer for real. In 4 quick steps!


Step 1: What are you passionate about?


So ask yourself -- What are the subjects that you absolutely ‘loooove’ studying? Money, family, societal judgment – all no bar. Just draw a big circle and scribble away.

What are the topics you love reading more about? – beyond your school curriculum, engaging with by way of experiments, real life experiences. Do you love math and the movies? Managing that charity event and making sure all the numbers tally? Computer wizkid and a softie who loves working with children? Does your internet browsing history reflect these interests? Do you find yourself actively engaging in conversations around these go-to subjects? Just be true to yourself and keep the pen moving.


Step 2 : What are you really good at?


Where does your competence lie? Where do you have a natural edge over your peers? Have you ever wondered if there are subjects that you ace with minimal effort? How does your school academic record read? What are the numbers? Do you churn out superlative quality because it just comes so naturally to you? These are your innate subject strengths. Draw your second circle and fill it out again.

Now take a step back.

Look at circles 1 and 2 and identify if there are subject overlaps. These subjects at the intersection of the two circles are what we will take to step 3. We’re half-way there – subjects you love and you’re already part pro at!


Step 3: What does the world need?


At this stage draw a third circle and put down all those subjects and ensuing jobs that you believe the world needs – from the computer science programmer to the virologist, to the economist to the social worker. Run another check. How many of your subjects in the overlap of circles 1 and 2 feature in circle 3 as well? 75% complete and loading!


Step 4: What will the world pay for?


The final step is a reality check. Any job that makes life worth living should also make you a living! Money matters! Which are the subjects/jobs at the intersection of your circles 1, 2 and 3 that the world will also willingly pay you for? Zoom your lens in and congratulations my friend! You’ve found your ikigai!




Go ahead confidently and fill out that form now. You’re surely set up for success!

In case you'd like to explore further on how you can leverage your ikigai to draft winning essays or statements of purpose or swing that personal interview, we’d be happy to help. Feel free to reach out to us at garima@evolvingbeing.org




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