Eventually, all college students are required to choose a major. This is the specific area of higher education that prospective employers look at when considering applicants. It is an important decision, one that college students should carefully consider before committing to.
First, look at the courses you have taken, including those from the last couple years of high school. Think about which ones you did well in and which ones you enjoyed. Hopefully, there are some classes that appear on both lists.
Then visit your college’s advising or placement office. They should have a list of majors that are related to the courses you have highlighted. They also typically have aptitude and interest inventories. If it has been a while since you’ve taken one, do so now. The results can help you narrow down your choices for a major. An aptitude inventory measures what you might be good at; an interest inventory measures what you might like to do.
Once you choose a few specific ideas for your major, do a little research. Find out which of the majors have jobs that best fit your idea for a career. Look at salary, advancement opportunities, job outlook, geographical requirements, and so on. If it is important to you that you remain in your small hometown but the jobs you are looking at require relocating to a big city, then cross that major off your list. It is important to be honest with yourself about salary requirements when you choose your college major. Many people feel that if they love their job enough, then the salary won’t matter. Ten years down the line, however, some of those people feel differently. The same principle applies the other way around, too; getting a great salary will probably not mean much if you hate your job. Choose based upon what really matters to you.
Talking to a specific college academic advisor is a good idea at this stage. Faculty members can tell you the academic requirements for a certain degree and how rigorous those requirements might be, details you can’t get from a course description. If you struggle with math and sciences, you probably should not choose a medical major; if you can’t pass the classes to get the degree, you can’t land the job. Choose based upon your abilities, as well.
When you feel like you have found the college major that is best for you, contact some people who work in the careers related to that major. Find out if you can shadow these workers for a couple of days, seeing firsthand what their daily work consists of.
A final point to keep in mind is the timing for choosing your major in college. Deciding upon a major early will make academic life a bit easier because the courses can be taken in the correct order, and no “unnecessary” classes will be taken. However, you can change your major at any time, and most colleges will allow you to double major if you like. The first two years of college are usually made up of the basic courses, so there is time for exploration before you need to choose a major.
With a little time, effort and soul-searching, you can choose a college major that you will be happy with. The right major will set you on the path to have a productive and enjoyable college experience and future career.