Career Development

What College Major Should I Choose?

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Choosing a college major might feel like a big decision because it can dictate the course of your career. The best college major for you is something you enjoy studying that also supports a financially viable, long-lasting career. In this article, you can explore some different strategies to consider when choosing your college major.

Why is choosing a major important?

It’s important to choose a major that is something you enjoy spending time on and promises a career you can sustain and grow for years to come. It’s important to finish college feeling like your education and experience was worth the time and money you invested. The value of your college education is in choosing a major that is enjoyable, supports your career and helps you grow as a person.

Consider the things you love

Make a list of activities and things in your life that you genuinely enjoy. Review the list and consider majors that lead to careers in these areas. For example, if reading is your favorite activity you may consider English literature or library science as a major. 

Communication studies is a good option if writing is something you enjoy. If you lose yourself in learning and programming computer code, computer science, web design or application development may be good options for you. If you find yourself in awe of skyscrapers, bridges and infrastructure, you may want to consider architecture or engineering.

Taking time to honestly reflect on the things you enjoy and translating that to your college major can lead to a satisfying and rewarding career. However, keep in mind that your interests may change over time, so be open to different experiences. A variety of experiences can help you identify and differentiate what you truly love from activities that are merely enjoyable.

Consider your abilities

Spend time evaluating your strengths and weaknesses, then consider majors that highlight your strengths. For example, if you are good with numbers you may consider economics, accounting or statistics as a major. If you are more creative, you may be more interested in film, art or graphic design. If you have strong interpersonal skills, you may consider journalism, communication or human resources management.

Evaluating your strengths and weaknesses allows you to consider majors that you will naturally excel in. Studying for and pursuing a career you are naturally good at will lead to increased job satisfaction and increase the likelihood of success in your field.

Consider your values

Think about the things that are important to you as a person, then consider majors leading to a career that supports your values. For example, if one of your deeply held values is giving back to your community, you may consider majors in non-profit or public administration as well as political science. 

If you value diversity and enjoy studying different cultures, you may consider a major in anthropology. If you value the past and the lessons it holds for the future, you may consider majoring in history.

Evaluating the values that are important to you as a person helps you select a major that leads to a gratifying career. However, like interests, it’s important to realize that this area may change over time. Your values may shift as you gain experience, so you want to carefully consider majors against these criteria.

Consider your career goals

Career goals play a large part in selecting a major. If your goal is to pursue a professional career such as a doctor or lawyer, you may want to review the admission requirements for medical or law school and select a major that meets the undergraduate requirements for admission to the advanced degree program.

For other careers, research the career requirements and job openings to get an idea of the level of education and preferred majors for jobs in that career path. Understanding your career goals and researching job requirements in your chosen career can help you select a major that supports your goals.

Consider the earning potential

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is a great resource for learning about potential earnings and projected growth for an industry or occupation. Although money may not be the driving factor in your choice, it is a factor. 

Learning about the earning potential for different industries and occupations can help you select a career path that suits your interests and meets your evolving financial needs. Once you select a industry or occupation, you can research the education requirements in that field to help you select a major.

Consider career longevity

Advancing technology increases the availability of automation, which decreases the need for human labor. When selecting a major, consider the future of that industry. Imagine where the industry may be in the next five, 10 or 20 years. Select a major to support a career that is less likely to be automated by technology and artificial intelligence. 

For example, some trade skills, such as tinsmiths, have already been replaced by computer-aided design and automated machinery. When considering a major, it is important to consider the longevity of the industry in the face of technology and select one that either requires labor that is uniquely human or is translatable to new technology that may replace human labor.

Consider new experience

Another way to learn about different subjects and help you decide what major to choose is to find volunteer, internship or extracurricular opportunities to help you learn about a subject or industry. Gaining experience in a variety of fields can help you find what you enjoy and what you want to pursue as a full-time career.

Consider different subjects

If you don’t know what major to choose, you have time. The initial part of your college education can focus on general education courses, so you can enter college with an undeclared major. This gives you the opportunity to try different subjects and gain experience before selecting a major. 

You can experiment with elective courses to help you learn about different subjects. Choosing a variety of courses and learning about different subjects helps you find a subject you enjoy that supports a career you want to pursue.

Your college advisor is a great resource to help you select courses and learn about different subjects that guide your decision. Coordinate with your advisor to help you plan your college experience as you consider different majors.