How to Choose a Major
Choosing a major can be very challenging. Learn some simple tips that will make your decision a lot easier.
“What are you going to do for the rest of your life?”
You’re probably getting sick of hearing this question by now.
Figuring out your college major is an important step you need to take to answer that question.
But how do you do you choose a major? And how does that choice affect your future career?
What Is a Major?
Your major is your primary field of study in your undergraduate program. It is the subject in which you earn your associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
After completing a list of general education courses at the beginning of your program, you spend the rest of the time dedicating your studies to one subject of your choice. Roughly one-third to one-half of your courses will be related to your major.
When You Need to Choose Your Major
Most colleges allow you to wait until the end of your sophomore year before declaring a major, but some require you to choose when you first enroll. Check with your school to find out its policy.
For many students it is best to wait until the first semester or two to choose a major so you can try out different classes and figure out what you like.
Just don’t draw out the process. You want to choose a major as soon as you can so you know exactly which courses you are required to take before graduation.
Your major may or may not lead directly to a career. Degrees in the liberal arts such as history can lead to a variety of careers. But in career-specific majors such as nursing, accounting and engineering, the majority of your studies would include skills that can be used in a future job.
According to a CNN study, the most popular majors for a bachelor’s degree are:
- Business administration and management
- Computer science
- Criminal justice
- Elementary education
- Political science
Read more about popular college majors here.
Choosing A Major: Tips and Tactics
Choosing a major is a personal choice and will affect half of your college education, so it is one that should not be taken lightly.
If you need a little direction, take a look at the list below for some steps you should be taking.
- Set goals to keep you on track in your search for a major.
- Make a list of your likes and interests and then generate a list of majors that may pique your interest. Start by crossing out all of the majors you know you are not interested in.
- Check with your prospective colleges to see if they have any tools in place to help students decide their major. The University of Washington advises that students attend a Roadmap to Choosing Your Major workshop. Events such as this can help you make that list.
- Take an assessment quiz, such as the one found on the University of Minnesota website, which offers an exercise based off a career assessment tool developed by the Psychological Assessment Resource (PAR).
- Take into consideration what careers are predicted to have the most openings on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. If any of them interest you, do some research to find out which majors can help you get that job.
Remember, though this is an important decision, it is not etched in stone. If you start taking major classes and find you’re not enjoying them, you can always switch. In fact, about two-thirds of undergraduates switch their major at least once.