Top 8 Tips for Choosing a College Major
Did you know there will be just over 20 million students enrolled in college in 2019? Will you be one of them?
If so, you're probably in the process of choosing a college major. This is no easy task. After all, you're only a teenager--how are supposed to know what to do with the rest of your life?
The best college majors are popular for a reason, but it's also vital to choose a major that's best for you. In this post, we'll discuss 8 tips for choosing a college major.
1. Figure out What Interests You Most
Some of us are born with one passion we carry throughout life. Others are passionate about lots of different things. And, some dabble in many hobbies and pursuits before they discover what they're truly interested in pursuing.
Whichever category you fall into, that's OK. The important thing isn't the process of finding your passion, but that you find it.
If you're still uncertain, use this time to explore your likes and dislikes. Take a personality assessment test to understand yourself better.
2. Consider Earning Potential
Passion is one thing--a paycheck is another. You might be fanatical about underwater basket weaving, but is that going to pay for your mortgage?
Even with great scholarships and financial aid, college is a huge investment in money and time. You don't want to spend four or more years of your life getting a degree that won't get you a (decent paying) job.
Of course, you shouldn't go for an engineering or medical degree just because it promises a high salary. If you're making six figures but you're miserable at the office, what's the point?
3. Evaluate Your Values and Natural Abilities
Are you gifted at math? Do you have a way with words? Are you naturally drawn to helping people?
Each of us has our strengths, including you. You may be able to use your natural abilities to your advantage by choosing a major that plays to your strengths. Any core beliefs you hold--religious, personal, or otherwise--should also factor into your decision.
When evaluating your personal abilities, you also need to be modest. You may want to be an astronaut with all your heart, but it's unlikely to happen if you failed pre-algebra.
Another factor to consider when choosing a college major is how employable you'll be when you graduate.
In today's high-tech world, anything related to computers, science, or engineering is sure to land you a job. Just beware of choosing a major or focus that's too narrow, as this could limit your job options.
You should also consider how rapidly our world is changing when it comes to automation and artificial intelligence. One estimate states that up to 800 million jobs could be lost to automation by the year 2030.
Make sure you choose a career path that still requires a human--you--to do the job.
5. Determine Your Ideal Lifestyle
Since you're on the path of self-discovery, this is also a great time to consider what type of lifestyle you hope to establish.
Do you enjoy traveling, or are you more of a homebody? Do you have the energy to work odd hours or lots of overtime? Does a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday schedule appeal to you, or do you like the idea of something more flexible?
There are no right or wrong answers here. But this is something you should seriously consider before pursuing a major that will result in a lifestyle you won't enjoy.
6. Take Introductory Courses
If you're already a college freshman or you have the option of dual enrollment courses in high school, now's the perfect time to dabble in some introductory courses.
Let's say you think psychology sounds cool, but you don't know enough about it to make an informed decision. Sign up for a Psychology 101 course to see if it's a good fit for you.
You could do the same with business courses, medical classes, or anything else you think you might be interested in. This allows you to get your feet wet without fully committing to a major--yet.
7. Get Opinions from Family and Friends
What if you've done lots of soul-searching but you're still not sure about a major?
If you haven't already, now is the time to speak with your parents and other family members who know you well. You can also slot some mature adult friends into this category.
Ask them what they think you'd be good at. What strengths do they notice in your personality? They may reveal something insightful you hadn't yet seen in yourself.
A word of caution: Your peers can provide great moral support, but they may not be the best people to turn to for long-term career advice. After all, they're on a voyage of self-discovery themselves.
8. Speak with a Guidance Counselor
There are plenty of great career resources out there--and one of them is your school's guidance counselor.
Schedule an appointment to go in and talk to a counselor, career adviser, or a trusted teacher. They're passionate about education and will be more than willing to listen as you express your thoughts.
As education professionals, they're also in a position to provide invaluable advice about the realities of different majors and career paths. They can help you to check degree requirements or explore options you may not have considered yet.
Final Thoughts on Choosing a College Major
Choosing a college major is a daunting task, but it's not insurmountable.
Using these tips, you should be able to narrow in on a major that you'll enjoy while also setting yourself up for success.
Of course, choosing your major is only the first step to career success. Check out our recent post about how to get your career moving in the right direction.