The prospect of graduating high school and attending college is an exciting one for many young adults. For most, it is the first chance that they get to live in a more independent manner and to start thinking about their future careers. However, if you aren’t entirely sure yet about what you want your own career to look like down the line, you might find yourself struggling to select a college major.
The first point that you will want to bear in mind is that fact that it is perfectly acceptable to not know just yet what you want to do with the rest of your life. In fact, many students who start off pursuing one major soon find themselves making the switch to another one that is completely different.
Furthermore, while there is naturally going to be a bit of pressure to make a good decision when it comes to choosing your college major, the professional world is riddled with stories of successful individuals who started out their careers in one role, only to wind up in an entirely different one further down the line. Essentially, it is important to make a good choice based on your current interests and skills, but don’t feel as though you are making plans that cannot be changed.
With this in mind and a bit of pressure off of your decision, you can then take the time to consider your specific options more carefully. To that end, here are some tips that can help you to make the right decision when it comes to choosing the right college major for you.
Consider What Motivates You
Choosing a college major is about giving yourself the best chances of finding success in your future career. The right degree program will equip you with the skills and information necessary to build a career for yourself after your graduation. However, even the best degree programs can prove to be a poor fit for a student who isn’t properly motivated.
It isn’t enough to simply want to find a good job and make good money. These motivations are vague and impersonal. Rather, you need to take into account what specifically motivates you.
For instance, if you are motivated by the thought of being able to help others and build a stronger community, then perhaps a degree in clinical social work would be right for you. This is the sort of job that allows you to work directly with vulnerable or at-risk individuals who might be struggling with mental health or behavioral issues.
On the other hand, if you find your motivation when placed in a competitive setting, perhaps a degree in business would be a good fit for you. Such a degree can provide you with the skills that you will need to outperform the competition as you look to improve the business you work for—or even build your own company.
By considering those factors that motivate you on a personal level, you can better narrow down your options and find a degree program that will be the best fit for you.
Think About your Target Schools
Among the many other major decisions that you have to make regarding your future at this point in your life is that of what school you are even going to attend. Many students find themselves with a list of target schools that they are thinking about and applying to. For many reasons, each school will offer its own list of pros and cons that should be taken into consideration.
Among the strengths that a specific school has, you will find that certain majors and departments are stronger than others. Some schools simply teach certain subject matter better than others. This can be determined by looking at success rates and job placement statistics for the specific schools you are thinking about.
You might find that one school has a stronger business program than the others on your list; some might have higher acceptance rates into graduate degree programs than others, so make sure to take this into account as well.
Because of this, if you have your sights set on a specific school, you may find it easier to choose a major by looking at those programs that are stronger at the school you want to attend.
Obtain Career Guidance
Sometimes, making a decision as significant as what major you should choose when you go to college can leave you feeling overwhelmed and confused about how to proceed. In such instances, it is a good idea to take a step back and gain some perspective from someone else. You should set aside some time to have a few conversations with a career guidance professional.
It is highly likely that your school has a career guidance counselor on campus already. If so, make an appointment so that you can talk about your options with someone who can offer you solid advice on the subject.
If your school doesn’t have a guidance counselor on site, you might need to seek advice elsewhere. If, for example, you have a shortlist of options at the ready, you should seek out working professionals in those industries to obtain more specific insights into what those careers entail. You will also be able to benefit from first-hand accounts of what it is like to major in and study specific subjects.
Think About Advanced Degrees
Among the other factors that you should think about when selecting a major is that of whether or not you want to earn an advanced degree. There are a variety of career paths, such as becoming a lawyer or a doctor, that involve obtaining further education after your earn your bachelor’s degree.
If you are comfortable with the prospect of continuing your education, then such majors shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you would rather earn your bachelor’s degree and then immediately start your professional life, then you should choose a career path that will allow you to do so.
Weigh Up the Numbers
While money shouldn’t be the deciding factor, it would be a bit irresponsible to try to make the decision about what to major in without thinking about future salary earning potential. You need to ensure that the career path you select is one that will allow you to support yourself and live comfortably.
There are several options that stand out to most people as the top earners. Studying medicine, business, or the law are great ways to set yourself up for future financial success. That being said, there are many other options that can provide you with the earning potential that you have in mind for yourself.
Although this shouldn’t be the only factor that you think about when choosing a major, earning potential can be a consideration that helps you to narrow down your search for the right major for you.
Take Visits to Your Preferred Schools
In addition to the other information that you obtain about potential college majors, you should also look to speak with students who are currently enrolled in certain majors at your potential schools or colleges. When you plan your college visits, it is important to have conversations with students who are in the process of earning degrees in the majors that you are considering for yourself.
Ask them about the teachers they have had and the classes they are taking. Try to find out whether their degree program is helping them to feel prepared for the road ahead. If possible, you might even benefit from sitting in on a class or two to see what it would actually be like to pursue a certain major.
Go In Undecided
If you try all of these points and are still unsure about what major to pick, don’t feel as though you are alone. The truth of the matter is that a great many students go into their college experience undecided about which major to choose. This is why so many schools offer programs that allow for academic exploration during the first year of school.
These programs can be incredibly helpful for students who have a few majors in mind but have yet to make a final decision. You can take classes pertaining to those majors to get a better sense about which one will be right for you. After your first semester or two, you will most likely have enough experience under your belt to make a more educated decision about which major you should choose.
It is important to remember, though, that by going down this route you might be setting yourself up for an extra semester of school; since you will be taking a number of classes of different varieties instead of only those that are specific to a certain major, you might need to make up a few major-specific classes down the line.
Choosing a college major for yourself is a big decision. However, always remember that it is a decision that you can change down the line of you need to. Ultimately, you want to do your best to choose one that will give you the best chances of finding success in your professional life after graduation.