Choosing a major in college can be extremely complicated and even scary. That’s why many students (and their families) struggle with the decision.
To help you go through with this tough decision, we’ve created a guide to choosing a major that will quickly and thoroughly explain the essential steps you’ll need to take. So how do you choose a major? Let’s find out!
Why Do You Choose a Major?
Firstly, many future students struggle with this decision because it can shape their future. A college major refers to the academic subject, discipline, or area that undergraduate students will commit to during their college years. When you complete it, you’ll hopefully leave with a shiny and presentable undergraduate degree!
However, it’s a bit trickier to make this choice today due to so many options. For example, schools can allow you to mix and match subjects and choose only those that you are interested in. What’s more, some even allow students to create their own majors or take double majors.
Unfortunately, studies show that over 60% of graduates are unhappy with their majors. To avoid making this mistake, you’ll have to consider several important factors. That includes the overall cost, the effort required, your skills, how they would fit into the major, as well as degree opportunities.
Cost Is a Major Consideration
Not everyone will be able to pick their major according to the factors we’ve outlined above. College can be a heavy financial burden, and that’s why the majority of U.S. families consider the costs first.
In fact, survey data shows that finances are the biggest priority to nearly 50% of parents. The costs can affect not only the choice of the major but also the type of school, accommodations, etc.
However, this is not surprising since the average savings and income of American families can only cover a third of the costs. Loans are the name of the game, and most will put you back around $30,000 to $60,000. So, before you choose, know that finances will undoubtedly impact your decision.
When thinking about job opportunities and employment rates in your field, you should also consider future trends. What could change in the future, and will there even be a demand for your major in the future?
Currently, the most popular majors include business, engineering, architecture, computer science, general education, and health. After that, it’s social sciences, liberal arts, psychology, law, graphic design, and communications.
What could happen to those fields in the future, and which jobs will be in the highest demand? All students should research those questions and more before they make their decision.
What Are Your Career and Life Goals So Far?
Some of the most atypical majors you could take are surf science, bakery science, comedy performance, diving theory, floral management, mortuary science, theme park engineering, and so on. They may not sound so lucrative, but if you love one of those fields, it would be a shame to curb your passions and choose something else simply based on future earning potential.
A good tip is to consider your passions, life goals, your dreams, and your career goals. If you are truly passionate, your college could provide you with the experience to become the best. However, it won’t give you a ticket to success.
That is, choosing an oddball subject like jazz theory only based on your hobby may not pay off. One solution could be to declare a major that balances your interests, life goals, career choices, and passions.
Talk to Your Mentors and Advisers
Remember Yoda, Mr. Miyagi, or Professor Dumbledore? While those are all entertaining and iconic characters, they were also badass mentors who could turn kids into Jedi Knights, karate masters, and the best wizards in the world. While your mentor may not have the exact same skills to turn you into a lightsaber-wielding Jedi, they can assess your strengths and weaknesses to aid you with your specific career choice.
Also, mentors can put you on the right career path, give you advice, and help you to set some long-term goals. You can have a one-on-one conversation with them and learn from their personal experience. Plus, you don’t have to limit yourself to only one mentor. You can find several mentors or advisers. So how can you find one?
Well, reach out to family friends, high school advisers, college professors, alumni, and working professionals. If you take the time, network, and use your family connections to find mentors, they could prepare you for college and the working world.
Steps in Picking Majors
When it comes time to narrow down your choice, we’ll reveal to you some recommended steps in picking a major. It’s best to try this early on and not at the end of your sophomore year. That way, you’ll give yourself enough time to rethink your goals and finances.
Firstly, think about the things you love. Make a list of ten things that you truly enjoy. But include your academic and non-academic interests. That is a great way to narrow down your options. Your list could include pros and cons, as well as your own strengths and weaknesses. That way, you’ll identify your passions, values, and abilities.
Then, consider your career goals and options. Once you have that, you’ll be able to decide on the type of degree that you need. That includes an Associate, Graduate, Joint degree, or a Bachelor’s degree.
The next step is to seek out mentors, alumni, and school counselors. A counselor could tell you about the program offerings, majors, and schools that would suit you the best. Like we’ve said, talking to mentors or working professionals could also put you on the right track.
Chatting with counselors and mentors will also guide you towards picking the right school. If you’re truly lost, just think about the best school for your particular field of study. For example, MIT often produces the best engineers, while the most successful journalists come from NYU.
Then, assess the costs, talk to your parents, and investigate student loans. After that, take your time. Do some more thinking, rethinking, and consulting with your parents and mentors. Finally, come up with a backup or two. That will give you some flexibility if you find out that your first choice is not good enough.
Undecided or Changing Majors
Another benefit to backups is that they can allow you to switch majors. If you’re undecided, it’s perfectly okay to enter college and switch majors in your sophomore year.
In fact, some studies even show that college students will do this multiple times. It’s not unusual because you’ll attend many new classes in your first year, and those classes could inspire you to make the switch. The only requirement here is to align your credits with your estimated graduation date.
In the end, don’t rush it. Take a long walk and think about all our advice. Hopefully, our tips will guide you to make the best choice! So best of luck in your college years!