One thing many students stress about when heading off to college is choosing a major. Some students may know exactly what they want to major in while other students may have no idea. Contrary to popular belief, you can take classes in college while being undecided. Eventually, students will need to choose a major so they can begin taking the required courses to graduate.
The first year of classes are designed to be a “feeling out” process. In your first year you may go in as an undecided major and take a really interesting biology course and decide that you may want to major in biology. It also works the other way, you may be set on being an engineering major, but you didn’t know how much math would be involved so you decide to change majors. Below we have listed 4 factors that we think will help you immensely in choosing the right major for yourself.
How to Choose a Major
There are a bunch of different factors that go into choosing a major. It is important to figure out what is most important to you. Some students may choose a major because they heard it was easy – make sure you are choosing a major for the right reasons. Think about what you want to do after you graduate and see which majors fit into that plan or goal.
There is no such thing as an easy major in college. All majors will require hard work and dedication. Students should not be discouraged from choosing a major because they heard it was hard. There are definitely some majors that are hard and some majors that are easier. As long as you are choosing a major based on the right reasons, difficulty of a major should only be a minor factor.
Why would anyone ever choose to major in something that does not interest them? This is by far the most important factor. Majoring in something interesting to yourself will not only make studying and learning easier, it will make your eventual job that much more enjoyable.
Try to think about the things that you enjoy the most. If you enjoy helping people and teaching them new skills, then maybe a degree in education would suit you best. If you can’t get enough of sports and want to stay around the game (without being a player!) then maybe a sports management degree would be best for you!
These are just a couple of examples but this is how you should be thinking when choosing a major you may be interested in. It is important to note that a major does not limit you to one or two different types of jobs. A major allows you to learn new skills that prepare you for many different types of jobs that fall within that major.
Example: A business finance major can go into corporate finance, investment banking, financial planning, wealth management, hedge funds, etc.… Some companies, if they really like you, may even hire a business finance major to do a different type of business for their company (marketing, accounting, etc.…)
Job prospects are defined as “job opportunity or possibility depending on your experience or knowledge.” So what does that mean? An easy way to interpret that is by looking at how many jobs there are in the field. If there aren’t many jobs in the field, it may be hard to get a job after graduation. If there are plenty of jobs and companies are looking to hire, then that is a great thing!
Another thing to look at is job growth. As our world continues to develop, things change. For example, if you look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one of the jobs with the biggest projected growth is a home health aide. If you think about that, it makes sense. All the baby boomers are growing older and need people to care for them which explains the projected 38.1 percent increase from 2018 to 2028. Job growth is an extremely important statistic to look up because some industries may be decreasing in job growth which will decrease your job prospects after graduation.
Above is a chart of the percentage of total employment for the United States in May 2019. The occupational groups above are grouped by percentage of people that fall under each employment category.
Income is probably something that a lot of students actually think about when choosing a major. Although income is important, it is not everything. Some majors might have a higher income compared to other majors, but at the same time, they might have to work 20-25 more hours a week in order to receive that higher income.
We encourage you to investigate what kind of hours you will be working in your desired major when looking at potential income. A school teacher may work 7:00am-5:00pm throughout the school year but gets the summer months off, while a typical businessperson will work from 9:00am-5:00pm throughout the year.
If work life balance is important to you, look into careers or companies that respect the work-life balance of their employees. Fortunately, a lot of companies are making work life balance a priority in their company culture. Some companies are allowing their employees to work from home once a week while other companies have stopped tracking days off and have switched to an “honor system.”
It is important to have options. When we say options we are talking about your ability to be able to choose from different career paths once you graduate. Many majors have a broad spectrum of job options. Like we talked about earlier, just because you decide to major in business finance does not mean that you have to sit in an office all day and do corporate finance for a big company.
Be sure to research what kind of options you will have when deciding on what you want to major in. It is important to not have “tunnel vision” when choosing a major. When we say “tunnel vision” we mean focusing on one job, and only one job, that is a part of that certain major. This can be dangerous. When graduation comes along and you can’t get the job you wanted, will you be willing to do another job that fits under your major?
If you are heading into your freshmen year of college and still don’t know what you want to major in, don’t worry! Remember, your first year of college can be used as a feeling out process. You can see what interests you or what doesn’t interest you!
We encourage you to really take your time when choosing a major. One last thing to keep in mind is that a major usually comprises a bunch of different types of jobs, allowing you to diversify yourself, thus making you a more desirable hire out of college.
It is important to decide what you want to study in by the end of your freshmen year so you can graduate on time. Sophomore year is when most students start taking their major classes. Choosing a major will help students learn skills that will help them accelerate in their careers after they graduate.
YES! The major you choose will have an impact on what classes you take throughout your college career. Make sure you choose a major that is interesting to you and is something you want to do after you graduate.
There are many factors that should be considered when choosing a college major. Some of the biggest factors include identifying your interests, looking at job prospects, considering income and time commitments after you graduate, and options that will be made available after you graduate.