A Roadmap to Choosing a Major

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By Samantha Pacheco Molina

Choosing a college major is like stepping into your favorite ice cream shop. You are instantly met by both an enticing aroma and by the daunting task of selecting the perfect flavor. If you are anything like me, you probably want to sample 10 different kinds before making a solid decision.

Picking a college major is much more important and intimidating than opting between cookie dough and rainbow sherbet soft serve. Ideally, a college major can open doors into the workforce and help pave the way to a fulfilling career. With hundreds of major options, how can one narrow down the perfect one?

Before you melt under the pressure, here are some things to think about before making the big commitment.

CONSIDER THE TYPE OF SCHOOL YOU WILL BE ATTENDING

Some people know what major they want from the get-go. If you have your heart set on a specific major and college, ensure that the school of your choice offers a degree within that area. Select a major that your school specializes in to learn from the best professors in the field. Online ratings and communicate with students directly to find out what majors are popular, well-organized, or have high graduate success rates at your university.

THINK ABOUT WHAT EXCITES YOU

A good place to start when thinking about future majors is your interests. Remember that it is your education path and if you dislike what you are studying, the rest of your college experience will be miserable. If you have a genuine like for a certain area and see yourself being happy in it in the future, you may have found your answer.

CONSIDER THE TALENTS YOU ALREADY HAVE

Time to let your talents shine. What school subjects do you enjoy and perform well in? It’s probably not a great idea to major in something that you know you are pretty weak in. Take into consideration the coursework that comes with pursuing a college education.

If you’ve barely pulled a C in calculus classes through high school, going into a math-heavy major means putting in more work. Performing poorly in a single class does not have to rule out an entire degree program, however, as long as you give your skills a chance to grow.

CONSIDER POTENTIAL INCOME

While most will tell you salary shouldn’t be a deciding factor, in reality, different majors make it harder or easier to earn a solid income. It can be valuable for prospective and current college students to know which career paths are more or less likely to lead to a high salary. Those who have an idea of what they’ll make after college can get a jump-start on budgeting for things like student loan payments or graduate school. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do what you love while chasing a high-paying career.

DO YOUR RESEARCH ON MAJORS EARLY

The early bird gets the worm. When your entire future hinges on the decisions you make over the next four years, it’s easy to put a lot of pressure on every choice. Despite this fear, many students don’t do a lot of research when choosing a major. While family and friends are well-intentioned, they often can’t tell you everything you need to know. Take introductory courses and question upperclassmen. Taking these steps will help provide some clarity on majors that interest you.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO CHANGE YOUR MIND

To reiterate, as you take more college classes, your interest in majors will likely expand as you experience new classes. It is normal to change majors — a few times, actually. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 80% of students in the United States change their major at least once. Suddenly discovering a new passion that can translate into a career is common and should be explored, even if it means spending a little more time on campus.

WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK FOR HELP

Declaring a major isn’t a decision you have to make alone. Leaning on others can help you realize things you wouldn’t have come to on your own. Utilize those close to you! Ask family and friends what traits they see in you and what they see you doing five years from now.

Academic advisers are trained to help students figure out what they want to do with their lives and how to go about achieving their goals.

STILL UNDECIDED?

It is likely you can try all these tips carefully and still find yourself asking, “What do I major in?!” That’s perfectly OK. You don’t need to have a field of study declared on the first day. Find what works for you, even if that means taking extra time to figure it out. CT

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