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How To Find The Best College Major For Me

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Best College Majors For Future Job Market

How To Choose The Perfect College Major For You

Wondering what the best college majors are for the future?

According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 80% of students in undergraduate studies chose their college major based on the potential job prospects. For those of you who are among the 20% wanting your degree as quickly as possible, you may find our article Quick Degrees that Pay Well helpful.

Theres nothing worse than investing in a college major and then finding out the job market for that major is rapidly diminishing! Save yourself the trouble by choosing a major in a field geared for high growth for a good return on your investment.

Below are the best majors for future growth rankings according to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

When Do You Declare A Major

Generally at most four-year colleges you dont have to decide on a major until the end of your sophomore year. This gives you time to try a couple of classes and see what you like before you decide, and earn general education credits that count toward your degree. Keep in mind, certain fields and programs require an early commitment so you can take all the required classes and graduate on time.

Resources For Choosing College Majors

Take advantage of your colleges career center. These centers can usually connect you with an advisor who can help you identify your interests and strengths, find job shadowing opportunities and internships, and explore careers.

Check out career-oriented websites and books designed to help you identify your skills and interests. What Can I Do with This Major? is an online database some colleges subscribe to that lists common career areas by major. It can give you a good idea of the types of majors that exist and the types of careers those majors might prepare you for.

Take personality and skills tests. You can also take tests that help you assess your strengths and personality and how they might translate into potential majors and careers. The Department of LaborsO*NET Interest Profiler scores students in six interest areas and provides career suggestions in each area.

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How Many Years Does It Take To Study A Common College Major

Students have the choice of either studying for two years, and receiving an associates degree, or four years, and receiving a bachelors degree.

For those who want to further their studies even more, there are graduate programs that advertise a more in-depth study and take about two more years to earn after completing a bachelors program.

Students Should Experience What They Like And What They Dontfirst Hand

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Ive worked with no shortage of students who really believe they want a particular characteristic in a school, only to change their minds once theyve experienced it.

With this in mind, the best college search might just have no real, definitive beginning. You wont announce that today is the day you will begin to define their future. Instead, youll tacitly pop onto a college campus on the way to your grandparents house simply because youre nearby. If you enjoy soccer, why not take in a game as a way to get a flavor of a given campus. Take advantage of concerts or art exhibits in your hometown and as you travel. You will learn about what you like and what you dont. For some, this very exercise may well excite you about college and motivate you to work hard.

So, like Mikey from the 1970s Life Cereal commercials, try it, you may like it!

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Narrowing Down Your College Choices

While there is no right answer to how many applications you should submit, it’s a good idea to apply to five to eight colleges with a range of selectivityyour matches,reaches, and safeties. There may be times when applying to more than eight schools is appropriate , but for most high school seniors, eight should give you plenty of solid options. If you are struggling to narrow your college list down to fewer than 10 schools, its time to revisit your college search or maybe do more research. You probably want to do a gut check toowhy are there so many schools on your list?

But the most important question to ask yourself when considering where to apply is this: Of the colleges and universities on my list, if only one of them admits me, or only one is affordable, can I go there happily? The answer should always be yes. If you answer no, ask yourself why youre applying to that institution in the first place. Be brutally honest with yourself. With the wide array of colleges in the country, why would you submit an application to a school you would never ultimately attend?

Check Colleges For Available Offerings

Perhaps you have a college major or two in mind already, but you havent made a final decision. If you are leaning toward a specific learning track, be sure that your target college offers the major you are interested in. You dont want to choose a major that isnt even available at your school.

While youre at it, you might even want to check out the schools matriculation rates and find out what their reputation is for job placement after graduation.

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Should You Double Major In College

Undergraduates aren’t necessarily limited to one field of study. Most colleges and universities allow students to double major or even triple major. Normally, students who double major choose two academic fields that complement each other, though you’re not required to do this.

For example, students hoping to establish careers in international business might double major in business management and a foreign language. Other popular major combinations include accounting and finance, engineering and math, political science and philosophy, and criminal justice and psychology.

If you don’t have enough room in your class schedule to pursue two majors, you can also in a secondary subject that interests you.

Cost Financial Aid And Affordability

How to Choose a Major When You Have Too Many Interests

It can be a big mistake to start your college search by excluding certain schools because they have an expensive price tag . Of course, for most students and their families, college affordability will weigh heavily on their decision-making process.

However, the initial sticker price you see will seldom be the final price you pay. Most colleges and universities realize they need to help students afford their education. And financial aid changes everything. In fact, you might find the pricey school that seemed out of reach is actually your most affordable option once you get their financial aid award letter.

College students get financial support through a wide range of sources, such as academic scholarships, special ability awards , diversity grants , or on-campus employment . Students also get money based on the results of their FAFSA and/or the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE .

Also, pay attention to the freshman-to-sophomore retention rate and the four-year graduation rate in your college cost research, because they often signify a schools true value. For example, a “cheaper” school may be less of a bargain if a low percentage of students actually graduate in four years. And a more expensive school with a higher four-year graduation rate may actually be the better value.

Questions to ask:

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Contemplate Designing Your Own Major

If the traditional offerings just dont seem to fit with what you want to accomplish in life, consider designing your own major. Several colleges allow students to choose an individualized major. Sometimes called an interdisciplinary or customized major, there are some extra approval steps involved, but it may be worth it if you have the initiative.

Look At Employment Rates And Potential Salary

While some students attend college for the simple love of learning, others are intent on making their education pay off. Ideally, ones motivation should lie somewhere between these two. If, like most people, you will eventually need to support yourself after college, consider the employment rates for your potential career.

You may have your heart set on studying marine biology, but if you plan on living in Wichita forever, your employment prospects will be grim.

It never hurts to choose a college major with future earnings in mind. Some sectors pay better than others. If making above-average earnings is a priority, look at majors with bright career prospects and plenty of job opportunities for entry-level graduates.

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Materials Science And Engineering

  • Base Salary: $69,400
  • Median Salary : $92,390
  • Job Outlook : 2%

Although the job outlook for materials engineers isn’t that high, this major and career should still give you a good shot at making a decent amount of money in the long run.

A materials engineering program integrates the fields of math and science, allowing students to study an array of materials, from glass and plastic to metals and ceramics. A materials science major is extremely similar but normally has a bigger emphasis on improving the function and composition of materials. Some colleges combine the two majors into a single materials science and engineering program.

Classes typically include calculus, physics, chemistry, engineering design, properties of materials, thermodynamics, kinetics of materials, smart materials, and sustainable energy technologies.

  • Median Salary : $93,280
  • Job Outlook : 11%

Biochemistry is a useful science major to consider if you’re passionate about biological processes and lab work. Biochemists currently have high job growth and a median salary of $93,000.

Although you’ll need a graduate degree to become a biochemist, you can use your bachelor’s in biochemistry in positions such as biological technician or pharmacy technician, which are presently experiencing faster-than-average employment growth .

  • Median Salary : $88,190
  • Job Outlook : 33%

When Do I Declare A Major

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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.

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The 17 Best College Majors For Finding A Job

College Info , General Education

Trying to figure out what to major in? Then you’re probably curious about what the best college majors are in terms of how much money they can make you and what kinds of jobs you can get with them.

Here, we go over the criteria we used to determine the 17 best degrees to get. After, we cover some quick tips for identifying the best major for you.

The 12 Best College Majors

In certain industries, colleges arent producing enough graduates to keep pace with labor market demand, the study says.

The featured programs/majors are undersupplying candidates for occupations that already see big gaps between the number of jobs posted and the number of hires companies make each month.

Translation? If you graduate with one of these weird college majors, employers will probably fight over you.

Heres information about each of the programs, as well as the typical career and pay associated with them.

To give you an idea how well many of these careers pay, the median annual wage in the U.S. was $35,540 as of December 2015.

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Find The Best College

collegecliffs.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Making that huge decision about which college you want to attend or the major you want to focus on is a very challenging step. There are just so many factors to consider. Although the preference of each student greatly varies, some basic but helpful questions apply to most prospective college students.

Below are 100 major questions to ask when choosing a college degree or course. Understanding this list can help you decide whether or not your choice of school or major should be on your list. To help you start examining the different characteristics of a potential college, here is a list of questions.

The LOWDOWN: Choosing a college and the field to focus on is one of your lifes biggest decisions. Your college major can help students land the fulfilling career and earn well. If you are unsure of what career path you want to take, or if you have multiple interests, choosing a major can be stressful. Plan ahead by choosing your major and whether you are fully prepared and committed to earn it.

What Does Your Academic Advisor Say

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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.

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Final Thoughts On Choosing The Right Major

Its certainly true that pursuing a major in a particular field can reward those students who are interested in their disciplines and make an unwavering commitment to them. But students feeling an overwhelming amount of anxiety about choosing a major or who are worried they might regret their decision should step back, take a deep breath, and use some of these suggestions.

Unless you are committed to the hard sciences or engineering, you should not be excessively concerned about choosing a major immediately. Rather, spend the first part of your education taking courses around a wide variety of different topics, then choose a major based on the classes theyre interested in. This will also help you maximize your academic performance.

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Talk To Current Students

I always ask current students at a college, If you could change one thing about this school, what would you change? If they tell you its the quality of the ground beef, thats one thing. But, if they tell you that they cant get into the classes they need, wont graduate on time, or find it difficult gaining access to their professors, you might feel differently.

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What Do You Like

The first thing to consider when picking a major is what you like to do. By the time you graduate high school youll have enough information and experience from your classes to figure out what you might or might not be interested in pursuing. Here are some ways you can dig deeper:

  • List 10 things you love. Listing what you love doing, both inside or outside the classroom, is a great way to see possible paths you can take. If you enjoy art and drawing but youre also interested in technology, consider majoring in graphic design. If youre into business and traveling, investigate majoring in international business.
  • Make a list of strengths and weaknesses. Figuring out your strengths and weaknesses can help you assess what kind of major to go into. For example, if public speaking isnt really your thing, you might want to avoid majors that could lead to careers like being a news anchor or spokesperson. You can also take your weaknesses and build on them in college. If public speaking is something you want to improve, go ahead and take a speech class. You might love it!
  • Use the Roadmap to Careers Connect your interests to majors and careers, and explore video interviews with professionals in different industries to hear how they got where they are today. Use your College Board login to map your futureits free for students who take the PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, PSAT/NMSQT, or the SAT.

What Makes A College Right For You Anyway

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First things first: there is almost certainly more than one right college for you. Some might be reach schools, some might be safeties. In any case, when youre searching for colleges, try to remember what college should be. It’s a place where:

  • You’re comfortable being yourselfbut also challenged to be better.
  • You find people to talk with late into the nightwhether its because you totally agree with each other or youre debating something you care about.
  • You have opportunities to study things that fascinate you, play the sports you want to play, work at internships that help clarify your career plans, and join the clubs you want to joinand you are expected to take advantage of those opportunities, because they wont just fall in your lap.
  • You learn how to learn, communicate well, and solve problemsskills all employers want to see, no matter what industry.
  • And you can get this kind of education without breaking the bank and taking on crazy amounts of student debt.

Speaking of college costs, heres the dirty little secret: because there are so many schools out there and a variety of financial aid to be had, you can almost always find a college that meets your needs and your budget.

Even if you’ve dreamed of going to a certain college your whole life, not checking out your other options is a mistake. Finding your perfect college match takes time and effort, but it’s worth it in the end.

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