How to Choose a College Major

College Student with Books

Choosing a college major is one of the most important decisions of your life. For most students, your college major prepares you to go on to get your first job or to continue with your education. It can dictate what field you will go into, and, as such, what path your career will take. While it is a lot of responsibility to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life when you are 18 and going to college for the first time, it is important to choose a major wisely so you get started in the world on the right foot.

Tips for Choosing a College Major

The first key to choosing a college major is to take your time if you can. Find out your options with a college major search or by visiting different departments on your university's campus.

When you first get to school, take a few classes in different fields you are interested in. Many schools - especially those offering a liberal arts degree - have requirements you have to fulfill as a freshman anyway. Use this time to take those classes, as well as electives if you can, to get a better feel for fields you are interested in.

While you are exploring your options during your first semester or two, take the time to get to know professors and upperclassmen. You can talk to them about what subjects they teach or what they are majoring in to find out what they do and don't like and to get more detail about what the field entails.

By learning as much as you can about the different majors as early as you can, you can find out if something that seems interesting is really worth pursuing. For example, you may love computers and think a computer science major is right for you - until you find out just how much complicated math goes into getting a computer science degree and realize that isn't right for you since you hated algebra and didn't even get through basic calculus.

Think About Your Interests

As you learn about different majors and take different classes, you should think about the things that have always interested you. If you love to write, for example, you may want to pursue something in English. If taking things apart and putting them back together has always been a passion, engineering may be your best bet.

Whatever you choose to study, you will spend four years learning about it in depth. Your first job (and perhaps all of the jobs in the course of your career) will be in a related field. As such, you should make sure it is something that you love. After all, a person who loves his job never really works a day in his life.

Look back at hobbies you have, classes you have taken, extracurriculars you have enjoyed and things you do for fun. All of this can give you guidance into choosing the field that is right for you.

Think About What Happens After School

While you want to find something that you love, you also need to be somewhat practical, too. If, for example, you want to major in music or philosophy, you need to think about what exactly you are going to do with that degree. Many people who major in the more "academic" disciplines go on to get an advanced degree in order to teach or to learn other practical skills that will allow their education to translate into marketable skills for the job search. If this isn't an option for you, then you need to think carefully about choosing a major that may not help you land a job right out of undergrad.

Generally, majors with a focus on the business end of things, such as economics, accounting, and marketing, can help you get a job straight out of school. Likewise, engineering or computer science majors may also be able to find a job more easily than those with an English degree, or a degree in French or in political theory.

That isn't to stay those majors aren't valuable, or that you shouldn't choose one of those majors if you have a passion for the subject. You just need to have a concrete plan for what you are going to do with it, especially if you are going to graduate with student loans you have to pay back.

Making the Choice

Get advice and guidance when choosing a major. Talk to friends, family members, career counselors, faculty members or other trusted individuals. You are making a decision that has a lifelong impact, so you should do so with as much help and input as you can get.

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How to Choose a College Major