The decision on a college major might be overwhelming. There are many options out there and many factors to consider. Also, the sheer pressure of this choice can be daunting. However, it doesn’t have to be this complicated.
With the right approach and research, you can do it. This guide will help you along the way.
When is the Deadline?
This depends on the college you are going to. In the majority of cases, students need to declare their major by the end of sophomore year. Some programs expect one to claim it when applying.
In any case, it is important to remember these factors:
- You can take as much time as you have to figure things out;
- You can always change your major later;
- Minors and double majors are also great options;
- Some students model their own interdisciplinary majors.
This will allow taking some pressure off your shoulders. Even if you change your mind, you can always switch to another field of study. Also, do not let the factor of a complex curriculum stop you from your dreams.
Surely, some programs might seem too rigorous, but there is always help out there. When students struggle with assignments, they can buy essay or research papers, consult with the professor, or get advisors’ help. If you are truly passionate and motivated about a particular field, you will succeed.
Choosing Major Step by Step
Set Your Priorities
The first step is to understand what you are looking for in a college education. This is important to evaluate the factors that go into this decision.
The priorities could be in the line of:
- Future career options;
- Prospected salary rates;
- Following a personal interest;
- Achieving a particular goal you might have (making a positive change in the environment, for instance).
There is no right and wrong here. Be honest with yourself and think of what you can and cannot compromise on.
Write Down Your Interests
If you have several passions, it might be difficult to focus on one. Write down the list of all things that inspire and interest you, whether it is technology, art, education, or healthcare. Even if the main priority is your future career, you need to care about it to succeed in any field.
Care comes from personal interest and emotional and intellectual involvement in the field. When you are done with the list, look at how it corresponds with your priorities. The good areas to start with are those that combine passion and goals.
Figure Out Your Skills
The next step is to understand your strengths and natural talents. They will also signify what spheres are suitable for you. Maybe your parents expect you to be a doctor, but you are really good with technology. Just because someone wants you to be something doesn’t mean you have to. After all, it is your future you are deciding on.
Look at your high school grades, SAT scores, and ACT. They show what you are good at. Think of what subjects have always been easier for you. Also, consider soft skills you have like communication, leadership, resilience, problem-solving, or analytical thinking.
For instance, if you are good with people, choosing the sphere that involves communication is good. But if you prefer to work on your own, consider those careers that offer such opportunities.
List Your Don’ts
Sometimes it can be easier to figure out what you do not want to do before you find out what you want. This can be a good exercise to narrow down opportunities. List your don’ts – things you do not want to pursue at all.
Maybe you are not into traveling or, on the contrary, do not want to stay in one place for years. Or maybe you prefer working in an office instead of remote employment. Try to imagine your future and how you want it to look. How do you expect your life to go in 5-10 years? This will help to eliminate things that do not suit your needs.
Research Career Options
Pursuing a passion is great, but it is crucial to keep prospects in mind. By now, you probably have a short list of what spheres and industries you might go to.
Now, it is time to research what they involve. Go online and look for:
- Types of careers you can have with a specific major;
- Salary rates for these careers;
- Projected demand for specialists (the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics has information on that);
- Work environment and common responsibilities;
- Professional development prospects.
Surely, the highest-paying jobs are appealing. But try to make a compromise between what is financially beneficial, interesting, and suitable for you. Going solely for the money might lead to disappointment and burnout.
Evaluate What Program Involves
Research what goes into a particular major. What type of curriculum is offered? What subjects will you be dealing with? What goes into successfully graduating?
Consider how much time per week this will take you. Also, consider the possible scholarship options. Look into what programs you can apply to for financial aid.
Consult with Academic Advisor
Before making a final choice, always consult with your advisor. This conversation can be extremely helpful as they know a lot about careers, curriculum, and available opportunities. They might propose options you didn’t know existed.
They also will provide insight into majors. Finally, prepare for the conversation with a list of questions you want to ask.
Consider Double Major
You are not limited to just one field of knowledge. Pursuing a double major is a great opportunity. Some even do triple one, although it is quite challenging to pull.
This can increase your career opportunities significantly. For example, you can go for International Business and Foreign Language, Criminal Justice and Psychology, or Engineering and Mathematics.
Declaring a minor is another opportunity. It will be less time-consuming.
When choosing a major, evaluating all the factors – your interests, priorities, skills, and career goals is important. Look into available opportunities and consult with professionals.