Attending a college or university entails a significant financial investment and several years of your life. You want to make the most of the experience. Selecting the major that is right for you can lead to a successful and satisfying career. There is a wide array of options, with some universities offering hundreds of degree programs. Here are some tips for choosing a major.
1. Set Priorities
You are in college to learn, earn a degree, and qualify for a good-paying job. In selecting a program, you need to balance your financial ambitions with your interests. If money was the only factor, everyone would be an engineering major. If the salaries of all occupations were equal, there would probably be more teachers and artists.
You need to make enough money to pay off your student loans and enjoy a financially secure life. Research the average salaries that graduates of certain degree programs earn, and the rates of job growth in various fields.
Understand that some professions require more than a four-year degree. To become a doctor, for instance, you have to attend an additional four years of medical school and complete a residency. The fact that this takes a lot of money, as well as time, is a serious consideration.
Remember that, after you graduate, you are likely to be working 40 hours a week or more. If the job is not something you enjoy doing, you are not going to be happy, no matter how much it pays.
2. Identify Interests
Do some self-analysis to identify the subject areas that most interest you. Assess your academic strengths and weaknesses. Consider the subjects that you liked, and those you hated, in high school.
Think about the activities you enjoy doing, and the topics that fascinate you. Identify jobs that would allow you to make a living while doing or studying those things. Imagine what you would like to do every day, if money was not a factor. As much as possible and practical, pursue your passions.
3. Research Programs
Compile a list of potential degree programs. Read the university’s course catalog to learn about the courses, subject matter, and requirements involved with each of the majors you are considering. Take a look at the textbooks and the sorts of assignments you would be expected to complete.
Take advantage of resources like professors, advisors, and fellow students. Ask them about courses and programs. High school and college counselors also are excellent sources of information and advice.
Speak with professionals who have careers in fields you are considering. Find out about the joys and drawbacks of their jobs. Picture yourself doing what they do, and try to determine whether it looks like something that would make you happy as well as financially secure.
4. Take Your Time
Relax and realize that you do not have to make a decision right away. College freshmen face enough of a challenge in adjusting to their new lives, dealing with academic and social pressures. You don’t have to decide upon a major until your sophomore or junior year.
Until then, start completing general-education course requirements. In addition, take math and science classes, because many majors require them. Select electives that you find interesting. If a course intrigues you, there’s a good chance it will be relevant to the major that you eventually choose (or to a job that you get someday).
5. Change Your Mind
Selecting a degree program does not set in stone what you are going to be doing the rest of your life. Few students end up graduating in the field they initially chose. Nearly everyone changes majors at least once.
You may find that the work is too difficult, or that the subject matter does not spark your interest to the extent that you expected. It’s possible that you will discover another subject area that seems more promising. This is called learning and growing, so do not resist it. Don’t feel trapped in your major; you can always change your mind.
Your options do not end upon graduation. People frequently change careers. at some point in their lives, because their passions change or the demand for their services decreases. This is why it is important to take some college classes that you find interesting, even if they don’t apply to your major. They may teach you information you can use later in life.
Choosing a major that leads to a career is one of the most significant actions you will ever take. Though the advice of parents and others can be helpful, it is a personal decision. You need to take a hard look at your interests, abilities, and financial goals. Then you can pick the degree program that is right for you.