How to choose a major

Choosing a major isn’t as difficult as it seems.

How to choose a major: a few quick tips

As the demand for undergraduate degrees increases, so does the long list of options you have for your college career. And when looking at college applications, all of the choices for majors may seem daunting. So how do you go about choosing a major when there are so many options?

There’s no need to know exactly what you want to do once you have your high school diploma. Knowing how to choose a major isn’t as difficult as you might think.

Choose a major based on your interests

While it’s a simple thought, knowing your interests is the first step to choosing a major. Did you hate science courses in high school? Then a chemistry and biology heavy major probably isn’t for you. Starting with what classes you loved in school is a great way to narrow down your choices for a major. Also, these classes don’t always have to be strictly academic. Maybe you enjoyed band or choir, or maybe you always looked forward to gym class in school. Looking into majors that relate to what you liked most in school is a great way to ensure you enjoy your college courses as well. 

If you find that you know that you enjoyed specific units or chapters in school, these could become future career choices your major may work towards. For example, if you enjoyed learning about statistics in high school math, you might want to look into a major like actuarial sciences or accounting. As the saying goes, ‘choose a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life,’.

It’s always a good idea to look into what you may enjoy in more depth. Sitting in on a club meeting, watching videos online, and researching may help you learn how to choose a major before or after you have entered college.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

If you aren’t sure how to choose a major, picturing where you want to be in the future is a great way to help. Where would you like to be in 10, 20, even 50 years? Do you see yourself being able to stick with a career in your chosen field for that long? If the answer is yes, you may have found a great pick for yourself.

What does the job market look like for the major?

One of the biggest concerns mentors like advisors or parents may have is the job market. Whether or not the major you’ve chosen will be in demand after you graduate can be an important factor in choosing a major. If you are looking into a field with declining employment rates it may be wise to look elsewhere. Of course, certain positions like teachers are always in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs in health care will grow by 16% within the next 10 years. Educating yourself and what will be available post graduation can help to know what you are in for after you receive your degree.

How to choose a major based on other’s lifestyles

One way to visualize how you might enjoy this major’s benefits in the future is by asking someone who works or has worked in the field. These individuals can serve as mentors to you throughout your education. Once you’ve heard their thoughts on the college and work experience, look around at their lifestyle. Are they satisfied with their career so far? How many years of experience do they have? Is their lifestyle something you could see yourself enjoying in the future? How much time does this person have for family, vacation, or hobbies? Asking these questions to those in the field already will help you to picture your future with that major.

How much school are you really signing up for?

Because some fields require the licensure of a graduate degree, you may want to consider how much schooling you want. Many high-ranking positions in fields like administration and health care require a master’s degree in the field to obtain certification or even apply for a position. If you only plan on getting a bachelor’s degree, don’t choose a major that won’t be employable without further specialization. Otherwise, consider the benefits of obtaining a master’s in that field if you are passionate about staying with your chosen major.

You don’t have to rush it

There isn’t a time limit that says when you need to have made a decision. Therefore, there is no need to panic about choosing a major before your freshman year. Generally speaking most 4 year colleges and universities have you taking roughly two years of required general education classes before major specific material. Because of this, many students are undecided on their majors until the end of their sophomore year and still graduate on time. Now that they have had more time to see what their desired majors look like at their school, it can be easier for them to make a decision.

That being said, you are still able to choose or change your major into your junior and senior years of college. However, this may mean you will need more time to graduate than you had originally planned on, and may become more expensive. Being proactive in how you choose a major may save you money and time in the long run.

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