How To Choose A College Major
During the summer between junior and senior year, in between avoiding thinking about colleges and trying to get my summer homework done, I took some time to think about how much I’d explored each of the subjects I was interested in so far and how much it should affect my college search.
Below, I’ve written out roughly what my thought process was for each subject. As you read through, you’ll start to notice that even though I am interested in all five of the subjects, the degree to which I’m interested in each area varies quite a bit.
Capitalize On Your Strengths
As you can see, deciding on a degree to pursue is a process that takes timeso dont worry if you cant decide right away. Now that you have some tips and tricks to help you answer the question What should I study in college? youre well on your way to finding the degree program thats a great fit for your skills and passions.
If you could use a little more help determining which careers align with your skills, take our Career Aptitude Test to help you figure it out!
What College Should You Go To How To Choose A College
As a high school student, you might be overwhelmed and scared by the college search process. You’re probably asking yourself, “What college should I go to? What college is right for me?”
Its not easy to choose a college thats right for you, especially when you have over 2,000 options in the US alone! To find a school that will truly make you happy, you have to be honest with yourself about what components will make up the most fulfilling college experience based on your interests and personality. This article will give you the tools you need to choose a college thats the right fit for your goals.
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What Is The Difference Between A School College And University In The Usa
What is the difference between a College and a University? This confuses me because the words seem to mean very different things in my home country.
In the United States, the word “school” describes any place where people learn. You can call a college a “school.” You can even call a university a “school.” You can use the word “school” for any English language institute, undergraduate or graduate program, or secondary school.
U.S. university or college follows after high school, or secondary school. A college in the U.S.A. is not a high school or secondary school. College and university programs begin in the thirteenth year of school, when a student is 17 or 18 years old or older. A two-year college offers an associate’s degree, as well as certificates. A four-year college or university offers a bachelor’s degree. Programs that offer these degrees are called “undergraduate” schools.
A “university” is a group of schools for studies after secondary school. At least one of these schools is a college where students receive a bachelor’s degree. The other schools in a university are”graduate” schools where students receive advanced degrees. Therefore, a university offers both the bachelor’s degree and graduate degrees such as the master’s and doctorate .
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Minors And Double Majors
If one field of study doesn’t satisfy your intellectual appetite, consider a minor. A minor is similar to a major in that it’s an area of academic concentration. The only difference is that a minor does not require as many classes.
Some undergrads with a love of learning and an appetite for punishment choose to pursue two majors, often in totally different subjects. A double major provides you with an understanding of two academic fields. It allows you to become familiar with two sets of values, views and vocabularies. That said, it also requires you to fulfill two sets of requirements and take twice as many required classes. You won’t have as many opportunities to experiment or take classes outside those two fields.
While a minor or a double major might make you more marketable, both professionally and for graduate study, both are timeand energyintensive. Most students find that one major is more than enough. Need help? Browse majors and learn more about them with our college majors search tool. Plus: Here’s our list of Top 10 College Majors based on research covering job prospects, alumni salaries, and popularity.
What Dont You Want To Do
If you arent sure what interests you, it may be easier to decide which kinds of jobs you dont want to have first. Many jobs are available that only require a high school diploma, but before you decide to skip college, check to see whether any of them interest you.
Most retail positions dont require any sort of post-secondary education, and you probably dont need a degree if you want to work with children in a daycare setting. If youre an introvert, becoming a mail carrier could be a good choice. You also dont have to go to school to become self-employed.
Many jobs that only require a high school diploma are entry-level, though, and you may have a hard time getting promoted without a degree. If you know that you dont want to stay in an entry-level position for a long time, consider going to college.
Are You Going Just Because Others Expect You To
For me, this was one of the biggest reasons why I even thought I had to go to college. Everyone else was. It wasnt even a question.
According to research conducted by Degree Query, 30% of students worldwide go to a four-year university because they think its what theyre supposed to do after high school.
Were told from a young age that college is the path to success. Get a degree. Get a job. Be wildly successful. Right? For some people, its almost a rite of passage to adulthood. Their parents want them to go, or their grandparents do, or they want to go because their friends are or their significant other is.
When I was in school, it was mandatory that we had a line-up of college choices, knew what major we were going into, and were applying for scholarships. Our counselors checked in on us every single week.
The thing is, college is a four-year and multi-thousand dollar commitment. You shouldnt go just because someone else is pressuring you to.
Just because you should isnt a good reason anymore. A college degree does not always result in a job. Consumer Reports asked a number of alumni whether or not they thought they had made the right decision in going to school, and 45% said college wasnt worth the debt. The same study found that almost half of college grads are underemployed.
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Do You Have To Go To College To Be Successful The Answer: Yes And No
Maybe you are steps away from graduating high school and looking for the answers for what to do next. Or perhaps youve been working for a few years and you are wondering if college is the next step for you. But first you need to know if its worth your time and money. So honestly, do you have to go to college to be successful in life? The answer is yesand no. Read on to find out why theres no simple answer.
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College is an important part of many peoples lifetime. It is an experience unlike any other one could have, but the important question is, is it important enough to spend all of that time and money?
There are many degrees that have a very high ROI. If the expected income you will make with your career choice is high, and the tuition for your program is affordable, then college will be well worth your while.
However, there are many careers that dont pay well enough to make a degree worth it, and there are many career fields that you can enter without college. So you definitely need to make sure that your expected career is worth the investment.
Overall, college is important because it provides invaluable experiences, you gain important, life-long connections, and you can get further in your career and make a high income with most degrees.
Lock In Your Safety Reach And Match Schools
Its important to look at your academic record and abilities and focus on colleges that match them. Before you invest time and money in applying to any colleges, compare the average admitted students credentials to your own. That will help you figure out if youll almost certainly be admitted , if youll probably be admitted , or if you may not be admitted . You should also consider the cost of tuition, percentage of the student body receiving financial aid, and average amount of aid this information will help you and your family rank the school for its financial feasibility too.
Heres the most important thing about choosing your safety, reach, and match colleges: make sure they’re all schools youd be happy to attend. Truly, legitimately, genuinely happy. Dont treat your safety schools as throwaways, and dont make your reaches the three most selective schools youve ever heard of.
Keeping an open mind is often the secret to success in collegeand that “safety” school might be your dream school after all.
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When Do I Declare A Major
Typically in your sophomore or junior year, but the answer varies across schools and programs. Some colleges ask you to list your expected major on your college application , but don’t require you to declare definitively until later.
If you are interested in a major that requires a lot of classes, or classes that are limited to students in that major, then it is better to declare early. Some majors demand a strictly regimented order of courses, and if you fall behind, you may have to extend your college stay by a semester or two.
Do You Like School Enough To Go Through Four More Years Of It
Four years is a long time.
Especially if academics arent really your thing.
Not everyone is put together to sit in lectures, write papers, and become a lawyer, computer scientist, or marine biologist. And thats okay. It doesnt make you less intelligent or useful. It just means youre put together differently.
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Visit A Starter College
Campus visits are an incredibly important part of your college search . However, if youre just starting and arent quite sure what youre looking for in a college, spend an hour or two walking around the closest campuseven if youre certain its not the right college for you. It can get your imagination going and help you gather your thoughts.
What Are You Interested In
Studies have found that students tend to perform better in school when they can focus on their interests. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for a student to identify their interests.
To get help with this, consider taking a personality quiz. For example, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator questionnaire can help you determine subjects that closely align with your personality and interests.
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What Does Your Academic Advisor Say
Checking in with your academic advisor is one of the most important steps you can take when deciding on a major. They’ve had similar conversations with hundreds of students and can provide insightful wisdom into picking a major. Your advisor may even propose a major you hadn’t previously considered that meets your academic and career goals.
When speaking with an academic advisor, remember that their time is valuable and limited. Come to the meeting with a list of thoughtful questions to ask.
How College Prepares You For The Real World
These programs may include first-year experiences, service-learning, capstone projects, hands-on research, study abroad, and internships. It is with high-impact practices like these that allow students to learn the value of teamwork, develop leadership skills, and apply classroom learning to real-life problems.
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Can Your Teen Take Responsibility For And Learn From Their Poor Decisions
Teens make mistakes. Their good judgment is still developing and their impulse control is a work in progress.
Dr. Damour suggests that one of the signs of a teen who is ready to leave home is not that she doesnt make mistakes or show an occasional lapse judgment, that is too high of a bar for most teens to clear, but rather that when misbehavior or misjudgment is uncovered the teen owns up to their responsibility and alters their future behavior.
Teens are capable of changing much faster than adults, Dr. Damour notes, so if you find yourself threatening your teen do that again and you are not going away next year dont despair. Many teens are shaken at this thought and both learn and change their behavior. Concern, however, might arise when parents make such a threat and their teens behavior remains unchanged.
The Dilemma Of The Curious And Well
In his article on how to get into Harvard and the Ivy League, PrepScholar co-founder Allen Cheng talks about developing a “spike” to make you attractive to highly selective national universities.
The idea of developing a spike makes sense for students who are both dedicated to being the best at one thing in particular and who are interested in applying to the Ivy League and similarly selective universities. If attending somewhere like Stanford or Columbia is your goal, you want to have one area that you really stand out in, rather than being well-rounded.
For students who have grown up being told that being a well-rounded student is important, the fact that you probably won’t get into a top national university by being good at everything can feel like the deepest betrayal.
Now, I didn’t know any of this information about not being well-rounded or having a “spike” when I was applying to schools.
But even if I had known about this strategy, I doubt I would have opted for it, because it just didn’t match who I was as a student. Rather than that picture of one ball with a spike rising out of it, I was more like a morningstarlots of spikes going off into all different directions for all my different interests.
A morningstar, or my different interests? Impossible to tell apart!
The different directions of my interests, but with Ludwigsburg tourist attractions instead of academic subjects.
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Can Your Teen Cope With The Hard Feelings In Life
The emotional life of a teen is filled with turmoil. In high school and college, kids often deal with academic, social, or romantic setbacks. They will have times of triumph and exuberance as well as doubt and disappointment. All of this is normal, and even desirable as a way to prepare them for adult life.
A close look at how their teens deal with these challenging moments sheds some light on their readiness for life on their own, explains Dr. Damour. When they perform poorly on an exam do they go for a run or a beer? When a love interest rebuffs them do they soothe themselves with music or drugs?
When they are suffering from doubt do they call their parents looking for a compassionate listener or someone to swoop down and solve their problems?
Can they handle their problems without their parents help at all? Students who struggle to deal independently and effectively with hard feelings in high school may feel overwhelmed in the college environment.
Do College Teachers Check For Plagiarism
Professors check for plagiarism using both technology and their expertise. Professors check for plagiarism when they grade, thus it is very important to know how they do it. In 2020, almost all universities use a learning-management-system that includes a plug-in which automatically checks for plagiarism.
Frequently Asked Questions About Choosing A Major
It depends on the school. Some students enter their first year with a declared major, while others can wait until their junior year. Individual departments may set their own rules, so make sure you ask.
If you can’t decide on a major, you have several options. Taking classes from different disciplines can help narrow your choices, as can meeting with your academic advisor to review the pros and cons of the options you’re considering.
Yes, you can always change your major. That said, if you complete a significant number of classes related to one major and then switch to another, you may need to stay in school longer to meet the credit requirements of your new major.
Definitely not. Colleges want students to think carefully about their decisions and not rush into any major if they’re unsure.
Who Is Applying To College
Howard Greene was one of the most prominent educational consultants in the country and he cautioned that parents should be concerned when they find themselves dragging their teen through the college process. When parents are managing their kids college application and hauling along their passive or even resistant teen, they need to reflect on whether their student will thrive in college the following year.
encourages parents to begin the college discussion with their high school freshman and sophomore not by asking which college interests them, but if college interests them. By the time the actual college admissions process begins teens need to feel that the next step in their education is their own decision.
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