BibMe Feature Spotlight: Source Type Options for Easier Citing

Have you ever struggled to identify what source type you are using for research, or to figure out how to format a citation for a particular source? With so much information on the Internet and in the world, it’s not always an easy task. That’s why BibMe offers citation services for several different source types!

BibMe supports citing not only books, journals, and websites, but also materials such as federal bills, artwork, and even maps. Basically, if your teacher has assigned or helped you find it, BibMe can help you properly cite it.

With BibMe you can use a variety of reliable sources to make your paper more well-researched and stand out from the crowd. Using documents such as maps, letters, and the like could also help when you are searching for primary sources to use in your paper.

Say that you need an APA citation. Go to, select “APA” as your citation style, and our full list of source types will be displayed, as follows:

bibme source types

Want to explore all of the source type options BibMe has to offer? Visit our homepage and start citing today! Citation services are offered in MLA format, APA format, and more!

Done citing and writing? BibMe Plus offers both a plagiarism and grammar check via a single upload! It will review your paper and help you identify potential issues. Try it today!

How to Write a Hypothesis

What is a Hypothesis?

A hypothesis is your initial prediction about your topic or argument. Although you’re probably used to writing hypotheses in science, you can also use them effectively in other areas of research. Why Start With a Hypothesis?

When researching, creating a hypothesis gives you a place to start from. It helps you frame your research and know what to look for. Sometimes, your research question is just too big. When you start with a hypothesis, it can help you narrow your scope and figure out what information to focus on.

For example, instead of starting with the topic of the United States, which is very broad and may have too much information, you might choose the thesis “The United States almost lost the Revolutionary War,” which would help you narrow your search to information on the American Revolution.

What Should a Hypothesis Look Like?

You shouldn’t worry about creating a hypothesis that is right or wrong. It’s just a prediction! As you research, you will find out if your guess was correct.

As you write your hypothesis, make sure that it:

  • Relates to the topic
  • Uses higher order thinking
  • Looks like an argument
Each of the hypotheses below relate to the question:
“What would the United States be like if we never fought the Revolutionary War?”
There are a lot of possible answers to this question. A hypothesis will help you focus on specific pieces of information.

Hover your mouse over the blue and green icons to learn more about why the examples below are or are not good hypotheses.

Beginning Your Research: Identify the Information You Need

Once you have a hypothesis, you can identify what information you need to find out. Most likely, you will need to find data and evidence related to your prediction. This evidence may support your prediction, or it may prove it wrong; both are okay!  The point of research is to learn, not to be right.

If your hypothesis is, “The United States would be a much smaller and less diverse nation if we never fought the Revolutionary War,” some of the information you will need to gather includes:

  • ​Statistics on population and diversity before the war and today
  • Specific examples of how fighting the war did or did not lead to greater diversity
  • Specific examples of how fighting the war did or did not lead to the nation growing
If you can’t find the information you need to support your hypothesis, that’s okay! You can adjust your hypothesis as you gather information and learn more about the topic.


Creating a hypothesis is helpful and will be the central theme of your project. Don’t be afraid to explore different options before deciding on one that you like the most.

As you research, it’s ethical to build a bibliography to keep track of the sources you use to support your hypothesis. Easily make one in MLA format, APA format, Chicago, or more with BibMe citation tools. Our premium BibMe Plus service also offers a grammar check to help you improve your writing. Try it today!

Library Basics: Using the Catalog and Other Resources

Libraries are treasure troves of information, ready and waiting to answer your every question. However, navigating through their information and finding your answers can be intimidating for those new to a library.

We want to everyone to walk confidently into their local or school library, so we’ve put together this short guide to help anyone use a library catalog, locate materials on a shelf, understand what databases are, and determine if search engines are appropriate for your research.

Library Catalog
Libraries organize lots of items – sometimes thousands or millions of them! – in a special way, so that anyone can find an item they are looking for. No one expects you to memorize where every book is kept on the shelf. Instead, to help you find sources, librarians create catalogs which store information about every item in the library, and where you can find them.

The library catalog is like a search engine that helps you find items in your library. You can search for items by title, author or subject. You can also do a general search for keywords like “dinosaurs,” “Italian cooking,” or “voting rights”.

The main page of your library usually has a link to their catalog. If you are unsure of where to find this, ask a librarian. The library catalog may also be called an OPAC, which stands for an Open Public Access Catalog.

Each item in a library catalog has its own catalog record. Catalog records include information about an item such as the author, title, publishing date, type of item (book, DVD, map, etc.), the item’s status (available, checked out, lost, etc.) and the call number. The call number tells you where you can find an item in the library. Typically, nonfiction books have a combination of letters and number, while fiction books usually just have letters. Here are a few examples of call numbers:


“Catcher in the Rye” by JD Salinger – Call number: YA FIC Salinger

“The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern – Call number: FIC C


“Gulp” by Mary Roach – Call number: 612.3 R

“On the Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin – Call number: 576.82 D

The Dewey Decimal System
With so many items in a library, it is really important that they stay organized. Librarians use a classification system to organize items in a library. That way, people can easily find what they are looking for every time they come to the library!

Most schools and public libraries organize nonfiction books and other items using the Dewey Decimal System. University and college libraries tend to use the Library of Congress Classification System. There are other types of organization systems that libraries use, but we will focus on the Dewey Decimal System.

The Dewey Decimal System was invented by and named after a librarian named Melvil Dewey. His system is made up of numbers that are associated with general categories, like technology, art and religion.

For example, here is the outline of the first 5 categories:
  • 000’s – General Works
  • 100’s – Philosophy
  • 200’s – Religion
  • 300’s – Social Sciences
  • 400’s – Languages
The digits that follow the general category number are connected to more specific (and similar) categories, as we will see below. Together, these groups of numbers are called call numbers.

Call numbers tell you where to find nonfiction items in the library. You can find the call number in the catalog record, listed under Call Number, Location, Shelf Number, or something similar. Ask your librarian if you are unsure of where to locate the call number in the catalog record.

Breaking a Call Number Apart
The longer the call number is, the more specific the topic is. For example, let’s look at the 300’s category.

300 – Social Sciences
  • 310 Statistics
  • 320 Political Science
  • 330 Economics
  • 340 Law
  • 350 Public administration & military science
  • 360 Social problems & social services
  • 370 Education
  • 380 Commerce, Communications & transport
  • 390 Customs, etiquette & folklore
As the call number becomes more specific, so does the subject. For example, a general book about sociology would be in the 300’s. A book specifically about politics would be in the 320’s.

Let’s now examine a call number we found on women’s voting rights and break it down:

324.623 V

In the Dewey Decimal System, books organized within the 300 category are about the social sciences, such as politics or law. Items organized under the number 324 are specifically about the political process, such as acquiring voting rights.

Going into even more detail, books organized under 324.623 are about the women’s suffrage movements. The letter at the end (“V”) is the first letter of the author’s last name.

As you can see, there is a very organized process to keep books sorted. In fact, if you didn’t yet have a book selected, you could browse the 324 section of the library for voting rights books since you know that section is about the political process.

Call numbers are just like street addresses. They will tell you how to find what you are looking for!

Find It on the Shelf
In order to find your book on the shelf, you will need to see where books cataloged under 324.623 are stored. Most libraries have signs on the side of each bookcase with a range of call numbers, such as 125.3 – 178.8. If the call number of the item fits within this range, you will find it on that bookshelf!

Call numbers are printed on stickers that are placed at the bottom of the spine of a book. Items organized by the Dewey Decimal System on a shelf are sorted from left to right. In other words, you will see that the call numbers will increase as you move left to right, from the top to the bottom of the bookcase. Here’s an example bookshelf:

Nonfiction & Fiction
NONFICTION means that the content in the book or item is based on real events, people or places. These items are organized by their Dewey Decimal number.

FICTION books or items are organized by the author’s last name, and then by the title of the book. Many libraries organize fictional items in a separate section of the library.

Locating E-books in a Library Catalog
When you search an OPAC, you may also find e-books, or digital books, in the search results. These aren’t found on the shelves in the library, but online!
Sometimes, e-books are kept in a separate catalog from the books on the shelves. Check with your librarian to see if you can access e-books, and where you can find them.

There are other ways to find information through the library besides library catalogs. You might also be able to use databases. Databases provide access to credible content that is not always discoverable using a search engine on the Internet. In other words, databases allow you to search for and find reliable sources of information, like newspaper or journal articles, that are written by professional writers or experts.

Databases have lots of information on many different subjects, which makes them useful for all sorts of school projects. Unlike searching for information on the Internet with a general search engine, databases let you search a smaller amount of really reliable information!

Database companies charge a fee to libraries so that their users can access information within the databases. Libraries take money out of their budgets to pay for electronic databases so that you can have access to quality information!

Search Engines
Search engines are really useful tools for certain things. For example, if you want to find out what time a movie is showing at the mall, a search engine can help. In this situation, databases are not useful for finding that kind of information.

For most school projects, though, search engines are not the best option.

The quality of information found in search engines can be very different compared to information found in the library catalog or electronic databases. Search engines find information online by using things called web crawlers. Web crawlers are computer programs that collect information from all over the Internet and add it to the search engine so that you can find them easily.

However, the information that web crawlers find are not always written by experts, professional writers, and may even be totally made up!

Search engines are fast and return results quickly, but you may spend a lot of time looking through pages and pages of links on search engines. Even worse – you may come across unreliable information!

Why Should You Use Databases

There are many reasons why you should use databases for research. Here are three big ones:
  • Items found in databases are written by experts or professional writers
  • Databases search fewer items than search engines, making your research more manageable
  • It has a librarian’s approval as a useful resource!
Searching a smaller number of better sources makes finding valuable information easier!

Now that you know the basics, run to your school or closest public library and begin discovering information that interests you. Finding and borrowing books, videos, and other items is easy once you start; it’s stopping that tends to be hard.   —-
No matter what resources you find at the library, if you use it for your project, don’t forget to cite it! Cite easily in MLA format, APA format, Chicago, or more with BibMe citation tools.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

Sometimes researchers want to know more about the context of a source, and why the writer has chosen to focus on it in their work. That’s where annotated bibliographies come in.

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, documents, etc. Normally, a works cited page or reference list simply displays each source via a citation. However, in an annotated bibliography, each citation is followed by a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph. This paragraph is known as the “annotation,” and is usually only about 100-150 words long.

The purpose of an annotated bibliography is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, location, and quality of the sources that are cited in the paper or work. You should always check with your teacher or professor first to see if an annotated bibliography/works cited page is needed for your paper.

Has your teacher asked you to write an annotated bibliography for your paper? Don’t know how to get started? Check out the example below for some quick tips on how to structure an annotated bibliography.

The following example uses APA format (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition, 2010) for a journal citation. While the format for the citation itself would change if you used a different style, such as MLA format, the format of the annotation itself would remain the same:

Annotated Bibliography example

What is a Bibliography?

Whenever you quote, paraphrase, or take notes on someone else’s work, you should keep track of the sources the information came from. This will help you avoid plagiarism when you begin writing.

You can keep track of your sources in a few different ways:
  • Place the author’s name in parentheses after quoted or paraphrased text.
  • Organize your notes under headings with the source information.
  • If using note cards to keep track of information, write the source of the information on the back of each card.
In addition to the above, you should also create a bibliography.

What is a Bibliography?
Let’s begin with a brief definition. A bibliography is a list of sources that an author used to write their piece. It is usually included at the end of a project or paper, and includes information about each source like the title, author, publication date, and website if the source is digital. Each set of source information is called a citation.

For example, here is a website citation in MLA format:

Joyce, Christopher. “Plastic Is Everywhere And Recycling Isn’t The End Of It.” NPR, 19 July 2017,

A bibliography usually has several citations. Here is an example of a bibliography (unformatted):

Works Cited

Azzarello, Marie Y., and Edward S. Van Vleet. “Marine Birds and Plastic Pollution.” Marine Ecology Progress Series, vol. 37, no. 2/3, 1987, pp. 295–303. JSTOR,

Hall, Eleanor J. Recycling. KidHaven, 2005.

Hopewell, Jefferson, et al. “Plastics Recycling: Challenges and Opportunities.” Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, vol. 364, no. 1526, 2009, pp. 2115–2126. JSTOR,

“How Much Plastic is in the Ocean?” It’s Okay to Be Smart. YouTube, 28 Mar. 2017,

Joyce, Christopher. “Plastic Is Everywhere And Recycling Isn’t The End Of It.” NPR. 19 July 2017,

Manrich, Sati, and Amélia S. F. Santos. Plastic Recycling. Nova Science Publishers, 2009.

Why Have a Bibliography?
​There are many benefits to creating a bibliography. Listen to the sound clip below:

In summary, bibliographies serve many purposes:
  • They help you keep track of your own research.
  • They can help your readers find more information on the topic.
  • They prove that the information in your research came from trustworthy sources.
  • They give credit to the original sources and authors.
  • It is a central location for all of your citations.

How Do I Create a Bibliography?
What your bibliography looks like will depend on a few different things, including what information you want/need to keep track of and what citation style you are using.

There are several different citation styles. Each requires slightly different information and formatting. The most popular styles used are MLA format and APA format. You can follow a citation guide, use a citation generator like BibMe, or see your teacher to help you structure your bibliography.

There are also plagiarism checker services that can assist you with identifying text that may need a citation, and then helping you create citations.

What Makes a Good Essay?

Over the course of your studies, you have probably been asked to write an essay. So what exactly is an essay? What are its components? How do you write a good one? Read on for some helpful tips!

What is an Essay?
Generally, an essay is a written piece that presents an argument or the unique point of view of the author. They can be either “formal” or “informal.” “Formal” refers to essays that are done for a scholarly or professional purpose.

“Informal” essays, conversely, express personal tastes and interests, and can have an unconventional writing structure. Essays are meant to provide a platform for writers to express their ideas within a specific type of format.

What are the Different Types of Essays?
There are many different types of essays, each with their own individual purpose and method of presenting information to the reader. Here are the most common:

1. Narrative: Usually written about a personal experience, these tell a story to the reader.

2. Argumentative: Requires research on a topic, collection of evidence, and establishing a clear position based on that evidence.

3. Descriptive: The writer must describe an object, person, place, experience, emotion, etc., and is usually granted some stylistic freedom.

4. Expository: Often in a “compare and contrast” format, this also requires an original thesis statement and paragraphs that link back to a central idea.

What Makes a Good Essay?
To construct a well-formed essay, you need to include several different key components. These are vital to ensuring that the reader is convinced of your argument, hooked on your story, or adequately informed on your topic.

Almost all essays should be broken into four parts: Intro, Body, Conclusion, and Citations. Within these four parts, be sure to include the following components:

Your introductory paragraph should serve to frame the rest of your paper in the reader’s mind. Think of it like a preview; you want them to move forward from here with a clear understanding of what the central idea of your paper is.

In order to frame the central idea, many essays contain a thesis statement, which is a one or two sentence phrase that captures the theme of the paper. These should be as specific as possible, and should be included as the last part of your intro paragraph.

Example thesis statement:
Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.
The body of your essay is where your evidence is presented and/or your point of view is made clear to the reader. Each body paragraph should further the central theme you put forth in your thesis statement.

The body paragraphs should each include a topic sentence that drives the rest of the paragraph, and relates back to the thesis statement. Be sure to include transition sentences between paragraphs to ensure a nice flow to your writing.

Within each paragraph on a specific idea, present any outside evidence that you have used to formulate your idea. Here is where you should be sure to include any necessary in-text citations, whether they be in MLA format, APA format, etc.

Your conclusion paragraph should neatly wrap up all of your ideas and evidence, calling the reader back to your original thesis statement. A good way to conclude your writing is to restate your thesis statement or central idea in a different way, making sure to include the main points you made in your paper.

If you are having trouble formulating your essay’s conclusion, read through your paper and then say to yourself “So what?” This helps to summarize the main idea of your paper in your mind.

Make sure that your reader is left with an impression or something to think about in relation to your topic. This is a hallmark of an effective essay. This is most important in argumentative essays.

Depending on what citation format your teacher prefers (MLA format, APA format, etc.), you should include a reference list at the end of your essay, which lists the outside sources where you attained information while creating your paper.

The citations in your reference list should include any sources that you have referenced within the body of your essay using in-text or parenthetical citations.

For help with creating citations, check out the citation guides on BibMe here

Finally, always remember to proofread your essay before handing it in to your teacher!

6 College Tips for Freshmen

So you’ve applied, been accepted, and now it’s time to go. However, gone are the days of your high school guidance counselor choosing your classes. To help make the transition a bit more smooth, we’ve included 6 tips.

Schedule an Advising Appointment
Your collegiate Academic Advisor is a tremendously useful resource for your years in university life. They are there to be a resource for you in all aspects of life, from academics to personal crisis. Therefore, it’s important that you take some time to meet with them on your registration day. They will likely ask some questions about your ambitions, what type of student you want to be while at college, and the usual “getting to know you” type of drill. Take all of these questions seriously, as they will really help your advisor to steer you in the right direction.

Take Time to Look Around Housing
Your dorm room will soon be your home away from home. In order to get an idea of what dorm life is like, ask to see a demo room in one of your school’s housing complexes. Consider taking a tape measurer with you to get an idea of layout and furniture and take some pictures to share with your roommate.

Get Your Student ID
School may not start for another few months, but that does not mean you can’t start taking advantage of student discounts! Most universities load your information into their ID database in the few weeks after you accept your offer. Consult your school’s ID center for specific information and requirements, but generally a government issued photo ID is all you’ll need to get your card. As an added benefit, by getting your card early, you’ll save yourself lots of time since you won’t have to wait in line during the first few days of classes.

Eat in the Dining Halls
Even if your school is not picking up the tab, your registration day can be a great way to get a feel for your school’s dining centers. Almost all universities offer day passes which you can purchase at the door.

Leave Mom and Dad Behind
Today is your day. For the first time in your life, you get to set the tone for your year. Let your parents go to meetings designated for them and start getting some practice in adulting by attending the other meetings on your own. They are only a text away with any questions that come up, and you will see them again in a few short hours.

Come in With a Plan
Part of being an adult is picking and then sticking with a plan. Have an idea of what types of classes you might want to take, a plan for General Education requirements, and a set of goals for the upcoming year.

Best of luck to you as you start your collegiate journey!

Writing Tip: BibMe can help you easily cite your sources in MLA format, APA format, and more!

What is a Paraphrase?

What is a paraphrase

One of the goals of a research project is to defend your argument or claim by using other sources as evidence. We do this when we argue or engage in a discussion with our friends; we backup our claims by including evidence from other sources, perhaps by sharing information from an article we’ve read or a show we’ve watched.

When creating a research project, we backup our claims in the same way. We either include exact lines of text or we paraphrase the information from other sources. This page focuses on how to effectively paraphrase information from other sources.

Before we get started, what is paraphrasing? Paraphrasing is the act of using another person’s information in your own project, but rewording it in a way that uses your own words and writing style.

Why Paraphrase?
Quotes are useful and great to use in a paper, but not as the sole content of the paper. Imagine filling a paper with nothing but quotes related to your topic. It’d be easy to do, but the paper would not include any of your own thoughts and your teacher may view the paper as lazy and not well written. On the other hand, with a paraphrase you put the information into your own words. This demonstrates that you’ve understood and critically considered information. In addition, it’s an opportunity for you to demonstrate your own thoughts on the topic.

Paraphrasing is also a useful way to concisely summarize information. Perhaps you loved a long passage but you don’t want to quote the entire thing in your paper. Solution: simply paraphrase it!

What it Looks Like
Let’s look at a direct quote, or exact line of text, from the famous children’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl:
Walking to school in the mornings, Charlie could see great slabs of chocolate piled up high in the shop windows, and he would stop and stare and press his nose against the glass, his mouth watering like mad. Many times a day, he would see other children taking creamy candy bars out of their pockets and munching them greedily, and that, of course, was pure torture (Dahl 8).
To paraphrase this properly, we need to reword it in a different way, using our own style of writing, while capturing the same meaning and essence of the movie quote.

Here’s an acceptable paraphrase for the paragraph from the book:
Poor Charlie would suffer as he watched his classmates enjoying chocolate bars and as he passed the candy store, which was fully stocked with delicious treats (Dahl 8).
In the above example, we’re using the same concept and idea as the book’s text, but writing it in our own words.

What it’s Not
Paraphrasing is tricky because it requires us to read text, analyze it, and write it out in our own words and in our own style.
It is NOT acceptable to simply substitute the words in the text with synonyms.

Here’s an unacceptable paraphrase for the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory passage:
While strolling to class at daybreak, Charlie viewed giant pieces of chocolate stacked in the store’s windows. He would gaze at the chocolate and squeeze his nose to the window pane, drooling like crazy. On numerous occasions during the day, he’d view classmates pulling luscious chocolate bricks from their pockets and enjoy them immensely. It was awful for Charlie (Dahl 8).
This paraphrase is too similar to the original quote. It’s considered plagiarism!

How to Paraphrase
Follow these steps to paraphrase text from a source:
  1. Read the text from the original source and re-read it again to fully comprehend the author’s meaning.
  2. Put the information to the side and without looking at it, rewrite the information in your own words and in your own style.
  3. Glance at the original source again to make sure you have included the key concepts in your paraphrase.
  4. Even though you paraphrased the information in your own words, you still need to show that the information came from another source. You do this by creating an in-text citation and placing it after the paraphrase. You can see the in-text citations in the examples above. They are shown as (Dahl 14). The next section explains how to properly create and format an in-text citation.

How to Cite a Paraphrase
While getting into a heated debate with our friends, it’s always helpful to backup our argument with evidence from other sources, but what we generally do not do is share who the author of those sources are. That’s something that we must do with research projects. Depending on which citation style you choose to format your paper in, such as MLA format, APA format, or one of the hundreds of other styles available on BibMe, you have to include a couple of items about the source, directly after, or close to the paraphrase. This helps the reader understand that the text or information they read is coming from another source.

Here are the most common ways to cite a paraphrase in the body of your work:
(Last name of the Author page number).

Here is my paraphrase (Dahl 8).

(Last name of the Author, year the source was published).

Here is my paraphrase (Dahl, 1998).

These in-text citations provide brief information about the source. If a reader wants to find more information about the exact source, they can head to the last page of the project and review the Works Cited list, Reference page, or bibliography. That’s where the reader can find the full citations, which tells more about the source.

Here’s the full citation in MLA:
Dahl, Roald. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Puffin Books, 1998.

Here’s the full citation in APA:
Dahl, R. (1998). Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. London, England: Puffin Books.

Planning the Perfect College Schedule

Think back to those high school days where you would roll out of bed at 6 am, get to school, and follow the same schedule as everyone else. Now, imagine a place where you can set your own schedule, choose your professors, and establish the routine for the day. Welcome to college! To help you make the perfect college schedule, here are 5 tips to make your routine a good one.

Be Realistic About Your Sleep Schedule
Are you the type of person to wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed, even if it’s 6 a.m.? That may have been the case in high school, but be sure you fully consider the college workload and social atmosphere before choosing to take early classes. Most college students think 10 or 11 am is a “sweet spot” for class starting times, and tend to find they lose focus around 3 p.m.

Schedule Time for Lunch
Nothing is worse than going to back-to-back classes in the middle of the lunch breaks. Do your stomach a favor by scheduling a break of at least 1 hour to eat mid-day. Then, stick to it. As tempting as it may be, try to take this time to relax so that when you return to classes, you can do so with focus.

Don’t Schedule Too Many Classes on One Day
In college, you need to focus not only on class time, but also on homework. On average, expect to spend at least an hour and a half of homework for every hour spent in class. To that end, it really isn’t a good idea to schedule your homework-intensive classes on one day. You will find you become swamped with work on these days, even if you are a person who generally manages your time well.

Count Credit Hours, and Classes
Most, if not all, classes at your institution should have a number of credit hours associated with them. A standard class will generally be around 3 credits, while more intensive classes may be up to 5 credit hours. Light classes are generally offered at 1 or 2 credits. With that in mind, most students schedule approximately 15 credit hours per semester. However, keep in mind that several low-credit classes can be just as intense as a few high-hour classes.

Listen to Your Academic Advisor
Advisors are a godsend when it comes to planning academic work. Before making your schedule final, be sure to sit down with them to make sure that your plan makes sense, will help you accomplish your academic goals, and is reasonable. Be sure to ask any and all questions you have; these people genuinely want to help you be the best student you can be.

With great choice, comes great responsibility. But, with these tips in mind you are well on your way to planning the perfect college schedule.

When you have a paper to write, BibMe can help you cite your sources in MLA format, APA format, and more!

How to Choose a College Major

Deciding where to go to college is tricky, but once you get to college, there’s another tough decision on the horizon: what to major in. Unless you have a very specific idea of what you want to do post-graduation, it can be difficult to pick a major.

Here are some tips to make this process a bit more straightforward for students who aren’t quite sure what they want to study.

Tip #1: Find out what you don’t like first
The idea is to major in something you’re passionate about. For students who are unsure of what to study, the first semester of college is a great opportunity to explore a bit. Colleges offer all sorts of classes that are more specialized than what you’d find in a high school classroom—and new students, having never been exposed in certain subjects, have no way of ruling things out. Try a few different classes that seem interesting to you, and pay attention to what you really don’t like before focusing on what you do—eliminating specific fields is helpful, particularly early on in your collegiate career.

Tip #2: Read about the major requirements
Maybe you want to major in finance, but then start reading through the major’s requirements and realize you have to take two calculus courses, when you absolutely hated calculus in high school. Or maybe you’re considering a comparative literature major in high school—but you have to take a language, when you struggled with Spanish classes previously. Majors have all sorts of additional requirements beyond core classes, and you should be fully aware of those requirements before making a commitment.

Tip #3: Talk to your advisor
Many colleges require you to meet with your advisor before choosing a major, but even if your school doesn’t, you might want to schedule a meeting with your four-year advisor to discuss the pros and cons of a major. Advisors can offer you insight from their years of experience. They can also refer you to someone else if they don’t feel equipped to answer your questions. You might also want to talk to an older student currently on the major track you’re considering. Whatever you decide, it’s smart to have a conversation with someone else within the school before committing.

Tip #4: Consider data regarding majors
There are tons of data points available about the majors that are the most popular and the majors with the best earning potential. This data might play into your decision. It’s helpful to look not just at data on a national level, but also at your school in particular. Is your school highly-ranked for certain majors? Is there information on job placement rates post-graduation? Knowing data about your school can help you determine what strengths you may be able to take advantage of.

Numbers are helpful, but remember that numbers also are sometimes misleading. If you’re really passionate about a particular area but feel pressure to pick another major that yields higher average earnings post-graduation, keep in mind that these numbers are just averages, and there are exceptions to every rule.

Ultimately, You Dictate Your Career
You might feel like once you’ve chosen a major, you’ve chosen a career. While what you major in will likely dictate what direction your career goes in—especially when you’re searching for that first internship or post-grad job—it’s important to remember that people have successful careers all the time in industries that have little to do with their majors. Your major will definitely dictate your college curriculum, but it doesn’t have to dictate your career.
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