Think About What You Like To Do
If youre not sure about youre interested in or passionate about, think about the classes that youve done well in while in high school, or other activities that you enjoy. Do you like to read, or spend a lot of time working with computers? Are you that friend that everyone comes to for advice? Do you still have a neighborhood of Lego buildings in your basement? Do you feel best when youre spending time outside? All of these could be good indicators of what career might be the best fit for you.
Take A Wide Variety Of Classes Your First Year
If at all possible, you should take as many different classes as possible during your first couple of semesters. Theres no better way to explore a variety of fields and dip your toe into the things that interest you.
More than likely, a few classes or professors will stand out to you as particularly interesting. For some students, this will be enough to decide. That was the case with me I declared my English major at the end of my freshman year of college. Other students, however, will need more time and guidance, which brings us to the next step.
Best Majors For Undecided Students
Its not unusual for high school seniors to start college without knowing what they want to major in. In fact, its a good idea to have some ideas without settling on one before you begin school. Chances are, youre going to change your mind at least once about your major before you graduate.
Universities and colleges usually have policies that say their students are supposed to declare majors when they are juniors. Is it better to choose a major that allows you to move into a wide range of careers? Or is it better to know what you want to do with your professional life, only to realize two semesters in that you didnt choose the right one?
As far as financial aid is concerned, its better to choose a more general major that allows you to move into one of several career fields. For instance, you may choose psychology, then move into social work or even human resources. If you choose a science field and then realize that you dont enjoy the courses or you struggle to succeed, you may end up stuck or required to attend school for an entire extra year. By this time, you may also have used up a majority of your allotted financial aid.
- Liberal Arts or Interdisciplinary StudiesMuseum Manager: $38,000
- Public Relations: $48,000
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Best Majors By Salary
Every college student dreams of that high-paying job theyll land after graduation. However, the size of your pay depends on what you choose to major in. Also, dont forget, at the beginning of your career your entry-level salary will be markedly lower than your mid-career or your late-career salary. As you spend more and more time in your position, often with the same organization, your pay will increase .
You want to begin supporting yourself and paying off any student loans you may have. Your prospective income should allow you to do all of this, so you want to have the education you need in the fields that pay the best. Just make sure that, even if youre looking to improve your future paycheck, the major you choose is one that youll enjoy working at for the next several decades.
Dont Follow Someone Elses Dream
Its quite common to have family members force their kids to enter a certain college program. Some parents want their kids to take majors that will pay well while some will want their kids to fulfill their long-forgotten dreams for them. It can be hard to mute these voices, but at the end of the day, dont sacrifice your happiness for their wishes.
On the one hand, we want to hear what others we know, love, and respect have to say, especially when it coincides with what we want to hear. But we dont want to hear anything that might challenge us, make us feel uncomfortable, or make us want to sneeze.
While seeking counsel might provide a crucial 360-degree perspective on something as important as your college degree, the fact remains that your life is your life.
Your choices are your choices. Whats more, your dreams are your dreams. And your dreams are just that: yours.
You arent being selfish. Youre creating a path for the future that you want, and youre wise enough to know that youre making responsible decisions. You arent going to college for them, anyway. Youre going to college for you.
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How To Choose Your College Major
There are a few key considerations you want to take into account before you commit to a major area of study. Certainly, you will want to clarify your financial expectations and the cost of your education.
However, more importantly, you will also want to reflect on your personality and values and how these will affect your choice of a satisfying area of study.
Finally, you will want to determine which sectors and careers have the most growth potential since a significant reason for attending university is to prepare for your future.
Consider The Class Requirements Associated With Different Majors
Its tempting to choose your major solely based on a career path that sounds interesting to you. But, in reality, its important to understand what that major will mean on a more practical level. Get to know the academic requirements for the major you are considering, Ellis says. Make sure you not only enjoy the major, but will be excited about the classes that come with it. Ellis adds, You should also evaluate whether the requirements fit your abilities and skill set.
Vinay Bhaskara, cofounder of CollegeVine, echoed that sentiment: Even if you have a field that excites you, you need to make sure that you can find the type of classes that you like, he tells Teen Vogue. For example, if youre terrible at exams and love writing essays and discussing stuff in small groups, then regardless of how interested you are in pre-medicine, it probably isnt a good fit.
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What Is A Major Whats The Difference Between A Major And A Minor
A major is a specific subject area college students specialize in. Typically, between one-third and one-half of the courses youll take in college will be in your major or related to it. Some colleges even let you design your own major!
A minor is a secondary field you can study in while completing your major degree program. Its a specialization that requires fewer courses than a major. Minors are only required for certain degrees.
Give Yourself Time To Decide
Remember, you dont have to make this decision right away. Taking basic-level courses when you first get to college is also good way to gauge your level of interest and commitment in pursuing a degree program. Its much better to realize as a freshman or sophomore that you arent as interested in a program as you thought you would be.
Plus, you could always decide to be an interdisciplinary studies major! This degree program gives you the freedom and flexibility to take a wide variety of classes so you can discover where your interests lie, and cater your classes to the career that you want.
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Create Your Own Major
A lot of universities will allow you to design your own major according to your career goals, preferences, and personality.
This is an interesting option to consider if none of the standard majors seem to attract you.
However, it requires a lot of effort on your side, as well as a lot of close work with faculty members, as you will have to construct a customized program and curriculum.
Applying To A Specific Major
While some schools have you choose an undergraduate division or college when you apply, others go further and want you to apply to a specific major. Sometimes you’ll need to apply to a major if you are interested in a particularly competitive or rigorous field of study. This means you have to know even more specifically what you want to study before you get to college.
One example is San Diego State University. When you apply, you choose a major and are ranked within the major. You can apply undecided and declare when you get to campus. However, if you want to pursue a specialized subject such as nursing, you have to apply as a high school senior.
Another example is Georgetown. While they allow applicants to apply undecided, they recommend that applicants interested in non-English languages, math, or the sciences apply in those majors.
So what do you do if a college on your list wants you to know your major before you get to campus?
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How Rigorous Will The Coursework Be
Some majors may feel harder than others based on factors like typical homework load, course expectations, and frequency of exams. Your core classes will make up a significant portion of your college course load. So, before you declare a major, make sure you understand how rigorous your weekly workload will be.
Indiana University Bloomington’s National Survey of Student Engagement, carried out in 2016, determined the most difficult majors based on the average time students spent per week preparing for classes. The hardest majors included architecture, chemical engineering, and aeronautical engineering.
Easier majors, which typically required less prep time, included fields like criminal justice, communication, and public relations.
Can You Change Your Major
You can absolutely change your major in college.Studies find that most students change majors at least once and many students switch several times. No matter what year youre in, sometimes the major you declare doesnt end up being the right one. If you decide to change your major, make sure the credits you need align with your expected graduation date. Go to your counselor for guidance on picking a new major and setting up your schedule.
Its a big decision, but you know yourself and your interests better than anyone. Remember, when choosing a major, the most important thing is to make sure youre happy and clear about your priorities for your life and career after college.
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My Kid Is Clueless About College Majors
Many college kids arrive on campus as undeclared majors. At some point in the first 2 years, they must choose a college major. If your child has done nothing but knock out general ed requirements with a slew of introductory classes, panic may set in. Random 101-level classes are not the best way to decide. These methods are:
Narrowing Down Your Degree Options
Once you have narrowed your list to between five and 10 potential majors, dive in deeper. Use our Guide to College Majors to identify some of the best degree programs for each major. Find out if you can enroll in an online degree program for maximum flexibility. Online college courses allow students with a variety of circumstances and backgrounds to get the exact college degree and career training they need.
Talk to admissions counselors from some of the colleges and institutions that specialize in your ideal college majors. They can put you in touch with alumni wholl share some of their real-world experiences with you. Whether or not you decide to attend their schools, you can use those connections to learn if a specific career path is really right for you.
Finally, remember that choosing a college major is part of your total life learning process. If you pick a major that you end up not liking, many institutions allow you to switch to a different major. Its better to learn from a wrong choice early in your academic career than to suffer through a career you dont enjoy. Take your time, and make your decisions with purpose and confidence!
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Find Colleges Offering Your Major
Use CollegeData’s College Search to find colleges that offer your major. You can also ask people working in related fields. Websites devoted to professions or academic fields may list prominent colleges. Specialized college rankings may also give you a few leads.
Search until you find a dozen or so colleges that seem appealing. Focus on colleges where your GPA and scores are a good fit with the most recent freshman class.
Avoid Majors That Take Up Tons Of Time
This last recommendation comes from me witnessing friends take way too many classes in an attempt to either double major or complete a major with an excessive amount of coursework.
Unless you have a very good reason for doing so, avoid majors that require you to overload or complete hours of homework each day. While the challenge of this workload will teach you a lot about time management, there are better things you can do with your time.
These kinds of activities are essential to your broader education as well, and they can also boost your chances of getting a great job once you graduate. So dont neglect them unless your life calling is to double major in music and computer science.
Want more tips on how not to choose a major? Be sure to avoid these 10 mistakes.
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When Do I Choose A Major
Students typically declare a major when they enroll during their freshman year. That said, undecided or undeclared students typically wait until the end of their sophomore year to choose. Undecided students refer to those who still need to choose a major, while undeclared students know which major they want to pursue but havent officially declared it. For example, an undeclared student may need to meet certain admission requirements before they announce their chosen major. Some schools may require students to choose a major before enrolling.
In short, students may decide on a major as early as their admission application and as late as the end of their sophomore year.
Consider Your Strengths Weaknesses And Interests
First off, its important to consider your strengths, weaknesses, and interests. What subjects do you do well in? Are their particular topics or classes that draw your attention more than others? Is there a course you just count down the minutes until it ends? Think about all of your classes carefully.
Its important to know yourself before any other determination can take place when it comes to your intended major. Consider all three and you may figure out a field and future career that captures your interest.
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Your Personal Interests Strengths And Experiences
This combination of factors is probably most important in finding the right major for you. What are your passions? Where do you thrive? What have you achieved in both your academic and extracurricular life? While you can certainly change course in college and try something new, your background can play a pivotal role in shaping your path forward.
Talk To Older Students And Professors
Picking a major is kind of like a job interview. Youre talking to a lot of different companies to find one that suits you, while the companies are also trying to decide if youre a good fit for them.
Part of this process comes from taking a variety of classes, but its also essential to meet students and professors from departments that interest you. After all, if you dont enjoy hanging around the professors and students from a department, you probably shouldnt major in the subject.
Plus, talking to students from a particular major will give you an unfiltered view of what that major is like. Professors will tend to promote their own departments , so be skeptical about what they say. But older students will give you the unglamorous truth.
Finally, dont forget to consult your advisor. Helping you choose a major is part of their job, so be sure to take advantage of their experience. Even if your advisor doesnt know much about a subject that interests you, they can still introduce you to professors who do.
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Do Hard Things During College
During college, you need to develop confidence in your ability to solve problems and overcome obstacles. The best way to do this is to do hard things that include a likely risk of failure.
Work with a non-profit to help them achieve their objectives more efficiently. Start a grassroots effort to promote art in your city. Volunteer on a political campaign, start a business, or conduct research in an under-funded lab.
Specific objectives matter less than learning to try hard and solve problems. The confidence you gain from developing these skills will translate to long-term confidence in your career.
Guide To Choosing College Majors
We know that choosing a college major can be overwhelming.
But have no fear! Your choice of major will not lock you into a specific career for the rest of your life. That said, you WILL spend a lot of time whatever subject you choose. Heres what you need to know about college majors before you commit.
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