Choosing a college major can feel like an overwhelming task. After all, it may seem like your whole life will be shaped by this decision. First of all, be assured that your whole life does not hinge on your college major. In fact, according to Borderzine, eighty percent of all students change majors at least once.
Still, choosing the right major for your skills and interests can help set your college career on the right path. Naturally, you’ll want to find a major that has a good job market, aligns with your passions, and that you can see yourself enjoying for a long time.
Here are some tips for finding the best major for you:
Explore Your Options
While you might think you know exactly what you want to do with your future, keep an open mind going into college. Take advantage of the many opportunities out there, opportunities that can lead you in the right direction as you choose your major. Take an elective class that is out of your comfort zone, and see what it’s like. This might help you delve into a subject you never knew you could enjoy, but which could end up being exactly what you want to do for a living.
Pick Your Passion
When you choose a major, you are choosing a direction you might follow for much of your career. That’s why it’s important to find something you are passionate about. Take courses that align with your interests and that you can see yourself enjoying. Find subjects that motivate you and that you truly want to explore. Of course, you’ll also want to consider factors beyond your passions. Think about the best way to balance your passions with practical concerns such as job security and the opportunity to contribute to society. If you are unsure of the areas that most excite your interests, take a StrengthsFinder test. This resource might help you gain a better sense of where your abilities and interests intersect.
Check out the Job Market
When picking a major, it is important to make sure the job opportunities exist. Even if you go into a major that reflects your passions, the joy won’t last long if you are unemployed. You also want to make sure the earning potential is worth it. Do this by checking out the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This resource can help you locate all sorts of career information, ranging from job outlook to education requirements to projected salary. College is a huge investment, and you want to ensure the job you choose will enable you to pay off your loans and build a career for yourself. You’ll also want to consider the standard of living you desire. Make sure this intended standard of living is matched by a job that has the potential to pay accordingly. Otherwise, your expected standard of living could be a dealbreaker for certain majors.
Most colleges have career centers that help students navigate the path to the right major. Taking personality tests and working with advisors can be extremely beneficial in pointing you in the right direction. You will get to know yourself better, which will place you in a better position to identify the major that’s right for you. In addition, explore different academic departments, talk to professors for greater insight, and ask upperclassmen, if you happen to know a few. Guidance and advice from those who have been there before can be a difference-maker when it comes to choosing a major.
Think about Your Commitment
Even if you love the major you’re taking, think about how much schooling you are willing to endure to accomplish your academic goals. For example, say you are extremely passionate about animals but don’t wish to take nine years of schooling to become a veterinarian. Keep this in mind as you pursue a degree in animal science. This degree may allow you to do much more than become a vet, even if you only go for four years, but you should have a sense of how much schooling you’re willing to bear before you proceed. This can help refine your focus within the context of a chosen major. No matter which major you pursue, keep the possibility of graduate school in mind. If this is something you expect to pursue, be prepared to spend more time in school.
Pick a Versatile Major
No matter which major you pick, know that you may be among the countless college students who build a career completely outside of your academic discipline. Therefore, you may want to pick a versatile major rather than a specific one. This is why so many students choose Business or Communications majors, for instance. Either of these is a useful major for obtaining the general skills valued in today’s job market. A versatile major may open up more job opportunities for you in the future.
Keep this in mind too: it is never too late to change majors. If you find out what you picked isn’t something you enjoy, consider following a different path. The great thing about a major is that it can provide you with focus, but it doesn’t mean you’re locked in. Whichever major you choose, you have a long and varied career ahead of you. This is just the first step.
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