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How to Choose a College Major

by Gabriela Salazar from Baylor University
  • 19th August 2019
  • Lauren Bachelder

Choosing a college major can be overwhelming. Even in elementary school, we’re pushed to know “what we want to be when we grow up,” and by the time we reach high school, the pressure is on to choose what we want to study in college, or at least to have some options narrowed down. Even if you’re already a college student, you may still not have decided on a major, and upper-classmen who switch career paths are left to calculate how long the switch will delay graduation!
Luckily, we’re here to help you rule out some of these worries! In this blog post, we’ll talk about what you should consider when choosing a major, whether this choice is really as important as it’s made out to be, and even some resources you can turn to for guidance.

Start the process of finding a major that’s right for you by asking yourself these five questions:

  1. “Does my college offer this major?”
    It’s super important to make sure that your college or university offers the major(s) that you’re interested in pursuing. There is nothing worse than finding your dream school, setting your heart on attending that university, and later realizing that they don’t offer your major. You can easily find the majors that your school offers by visiting its website!
  2. “What are my skills and interests?”
    Ask yourself, “What am I already pretty proficient at doing?” A little secret about finding your passion is that it’s hidden in between the intersection of what you’re good at and where you’re needed. Have you ever had a friend or family member ask you for help with something that they knew you were really good at? Sometimes people just have a natural knack for listening and giving advice, fixing electronics, or creating stunning graphic art. Take the time to think about all your skills and how that could translate into a career you’ll love to pursue.

    We recommend writing down all your interests on paper and attaching them to a career. Listing out your interests should help narrow down your list and give you a good idea of what major best matches your unique combination of strengths. For example, you might love art, but you also love technology. These two interests might tell you that you could be interested in graphic design. Play around and see what combines well together!

  3. “Can I imagine myself happy and successful while pursuing this career?
    Once you’ve assigned your interests into possible jobs, you should think about which of these careers will allow you to thrive. For example, in my first year of college, I was studying to be a physical therapist. After taking a few anatomy classes, I realized I was really struggling. I had to make a decision — either I was going to struggle for four more years, or I needed to switch majors. Ultimately, I realized I wasn’t necessarily in love with science like I once thought. What really excited me about physical therapy was helping others achieve their goals. Sometimes lying hidden in your ‘interests’ is the real root of your passion, and mine was helping people!
  4. “What are my career goals?”
    Now it’s time to plan for the future and think about realistic goals for your career. Some careers prefer job candidates to have a master’s degree and others only require an associate’s degree. It is crucial to your financial future that you know how long it will take you to graduate and actually start working in your career field. The last thing you want is to find yourself drowning in student loan debt, so do your research, and talk to your parents about which degree is right for you!

    It’s also important to decide what “success” means to you! Is it obtaining leadership roles? A prestigious position? The satisfaction of making a big difference for a company or cause? Making enough money to reach your desired standard of living? If you can’t achieve your definition of “success” within your career choice, you may not find the job as fulfilling as you hoped.

  5. “Does my career require a certain major?”
    One of the misconceptions about choosing a major is that the subject you choose will eternally lock you into only holding a job in that specific field. The truth is that many people end up pursuing careers that are indirectly related (or not at all related) to the major that they choose in college. Some careers require specific certifications or graduate degrees, such as working as an attorney, lawyer, or teacher. However, your choice of a major as an undergraduate student doesn’t permanently decide your fate. In fact, there are plenty of employers who want candidates with a variety of educational backgrounds! Again, to know for sure if your major really matters for your career goals will require a bit more research. But don’t think, for example, that it’s impossible for you to use the skills you learn in that history degree to help you study for the LSAT and go to law school!

    We hope these questions will help you find the college major that will match your skill set, interests, life circumstances, and goals!

    Need some extra guidance transitioning into college, picking a major, and managing all of your classes? Our Apollo Tutors act as awesome mentors who have been through the exact same struggles! Find your tutor now by signing up on our Tutoring Portal!