Things to Consider When Choosing a Major

With college in the near future, you may be thinking about what to major in, which means you’ll want to know the careers often associated with each of the various college major options.

It’s important to remember that while careers and majors are related, most people hold more than one job throughout the course of their careers. Many jobs only require a bachelor’s degree and are open to hiring people from a variety of several areas of study. This should reassure you that there’s no such thing as a “wrong” major or “wrong” career.

Exploring different majors should be an exciting journey of self-discovery for you as you consider what four-year (or more) course of study best suits your goals.

Think about these five things—and even write out a list of options—when choosing a major.

1. What Are Your Interests?

What is your passion?

Sometimes it’s very obvious as in the case of someone who has always loved music or wants to research cancer. In this case, you can investigate whether majoring in music performance or music education would be best, for example.

Another way to help you narrow down an interest is to think about subjects or classes you have enjoyed. If you love geometry, you could someday be an architect, surveyor, or graphic designer.

If you are unsure of what your interests are, try to think outside the box about what brings you joy.

Not every major available in college corresponds directly to a class in high school. If you love both business and writing, you might become a marketer. If you’re curious about technology, you might become an entrepreneur.

The bottom line is that choosing a major according to your interests helps ensure that you won’t lose interest halfway through the program.

2. What Are Your Favorite Skills?

What special skills do you have that could be applied to a career?

Remember, there are believed to be multiple types of intelligence, including musical intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, and interpersonal intelligence.

If you have interpersonal intelligence, you may feel confined and unhappy in a closed off cubicle at a job that requires a lot of silence in the workplace. It’s important to choose a career that will utilize your skills and help you grow.

Giving consideration to specific skills, types of intelligence, and learning styles will help you choose a major or career you will succeed in.

Don’t forget about the excellent and fulfilling opportunities in trade careers like electrician, chef, mechanic, and physical therapist.

3. How Do You Define Success?

Finish this sentence: “In ten years, I am going to…”

Set various goals for yourself to help pin down where you’d like to go in life. Write down goals for two years from now, five years from now, ten years from now, etc.

What’s on your list? Do you plan to complete a residency? Travel to every country in Southeast Asia? Land a big acting role? Work for a Fortune 500 company? Win a national sales award? Argue in an appeals court?

Find out what success means to you by learning what exactly you want to accomplish. Not everyone has clear goals, but most young people have ideas about the people they want to become. Save your list and revisit it a year from now. Your goals may change, and that’s okay. College brings new life experiences that may influence a decision to alter your plans.

Once you have your long-term career goals established, work backwards from there. If your dream is to excavate fossils in South America, you might begin with a double-major in Spanish and anthropology before moving on to graduate school.

4. What Type of Work Environment Do You Prefer?

Sometimes the key to discovering the ideal major or career is to picture yourself in the work environment.

If you imagine yourself in a stadium or a hospital, that can tell you a lot about how to choose a course of study that you will find fulfilling.

Here are just a few questions about work environment to consider:

  • Local or international?
  • Indoors or outdoors?
  • Office or home?
  • Urban or rural?
  • Traveling or stationary?
  • Teamwork or individual?
  • Technological or interpersonal?

If you don’t know exactly what you’ll be doing, but you’re sure that you’ll be working in an office inside a skyscraper, you have learned that exploring business and marketing majors might be your next steps.

5. What Is Your Desired Salary?

This one’s last for a reason. Most careers pay enough money to support an individual or a family, which makes salary a secondary consideration in most majors.

Occasionally, however, the cost of education can be pretty prohibitive for certain careers. In these cases, figuring out salary requirements to balance against education and living expenses is a practical necessity.

You may also want to earn more money than average in order to support a very large family, plan to retire early, make an investment, fulfill a goal, or signify a successful career.

Knowing what career path will bring you happiness and a sense of fulfillment is very important when considering your college major. We hope you’ve found these five points helpful when choosing a college major or a career. But if you’re still unsure, you still have the option to choose an undeclared major and think about it while taking general education requirements. An estimated 33 percent of college students change their major at least once.


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