With all the different college majors available, choosing between them can be overwhelming. Some students find that there are several potential major choices they like, whereas others struggle to find just one that feels right.
You don’t want to stress out too much from choosing a major, but it’s also not a decision to take lightly. There are a few solid strategies for deciding what your major will be.
Basing Your Major on the Career You Want
If you already have an idea of what your dream career is, you can look up what degree you’ll need for the best chance of success in that field. Not every career will have a specific major you need to get, but many will, and if your chosen career is one of them, it makes it much easier to pick your major. Look for professional degrees such as a law, teaching, or healthcare program.
Colleges have expanded their course offerings quite a bit, making it more likely yours will have a major to fit your career. Be careful, however, that you are not pursuing a career with no real marketplace value. Universities will use all kinds of marketing ploys and catchphrases like “lifelong learning” and “broadening your horizons” to shoehorn you into a degree that may or may not yield any economic return. Always look up average earnings and underemployment statistics for your chosen field of study. You’re obviously set if you’re getting into a traditional career path, such as finance, but you can also major in newer fields, such as software development or graphic design.
Going with a Major That Has the Potential for High Earnings
If you don’t have a specific career path in mind but earning a large income is one of your chief concerns, you can focus on developing your marketable skills by choosing a major with the potential for high earnings. Some of the highest-paying majors include computer science, statistics, finance and nursing. Majors related to engineering, including electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and chemical engineering, also tend to be high paying.
The potential drawback with this method is that you could find yourself majoring in something that doesn’t interest you. This will make it harder to do well and stay engaged during your classes. You also don’t want to end up in a career you dislike, which means you should still make sure you can live with any major you choose.
Choosing a Major Related to Subjects You Enjoy
This is the “follow your dreams” approach. While you’re completing your general education requirements, you’ll get the opportunity to check out a variety of classes. You could opt to major in a subject that you feel drawn to. The main benefit of this method is that you’ll be majoring in something you like, which makes it much easier to learn the material and get good grades. Again, however, be sure that your “passion” isn’t leading you down an educational path that will result in years of underemployment in an unrelated field.
There can be a bit of a stigma surrounding certain majors which others view as wastes of time. Although you shouldn’t let anyone else’s opinion change your major, it is in your best interest to consider life after college when you make your decision. Being a major that interests you is great, but make sure you have an idea of how you can use that degree in the working world.
Your Major Isn’t Set in Stone
Especially at the beginning of your college career, remember that you can change your major later if you want. There’s also the option to say “Undecided” when you’re first asked to select a major.
Being unsure of your major is okay, particularly early on, when you’re completing the required general education courses anyway. As you move further along with higher education, it’s smart to finalize your major so that you can take the courses you need and it doesn’t take you longer than necessary to get your degree.
Since your major could affect you for the rest of your life, there’s nothing wrong with taking some time on the decision. Think about all your options, and when in doubt, trust your instincts.