Things to Consider When Choosing a College Major
With the immense pressure to just get in to college, students can be forgiven for not always thinking about what exactly they want to study.
Each child is different; some may have known what they wanted to do from a very young age, and others don’t make a decision until they’ve already enrolled and started taking courses.
Students across the country are working towards getting degrees in a wide variety of majors. With so many options that cater to the many passions students have, it can be difficult to find the right major.
The decision will ultimately be your child’s. They know what their interests are, and no one else can choose for them what they want to pursue.
However, online resources and research tips can help them narrow down their choices and find something that pertains to the career they’ve envisioned for themselves.
How to Choose the “Right” Major
Using a personality quiz to determine a college major
Personality quizzes can be a great start in helping to decide which major to pursue. Using a personality quiz to determine a college major is accessible and efficient.
There are many quizzes available, and taking just one may not give you all the answers; encourage your child to try multiple quizzes and look for patterns in their results.
One college major personality quiz is from Innate. It takes four minutes to complete and can be found on U.S. News Education. This quiz provides an assessment based on your primary personality traits.
Another quiz can be found on ThoughtCo. This one also uses simple language and focuses on your personality traits, giving you a list of possible majors as a result of ten questions.
Students will also want to look at the careers that will be in-demand once they graduate.
Websites like YouScience can help them find career pathways and identify the types of positions they may have a natural talent for.
Some universities also offer college major quizzes. Students will definitely want to look at the resources provided by any school they’ve been accepted to or are interested in.
Here are a few:
Remember, this should be a jumping off point in your college major search.
The internet is a great way to continue learning about college majors. Quick searches on Google, YouTube, and other platforms can be helpful tools in researching college majors.
The College Board provides an extensive list of majors and career profiles related to these majors.
Another helpful way to research college majors is to reach out to others. Resources like academic advisors and career counseling centers at your university can provide useful information to discuss what majors are like, what alumni are doing with college majors, and other important information.
Do not be afraid to connect with peers who are currently on major tracks you are interested in, as they may be able to provide unique information as students about their major.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering Majors
Here are some things to think about when you are thinking about potential college majors.
- What have your favorite academic courses been?
- What are your passions inside and outside of the classroom?
- When you think about your life after college, what are you doing?
Finding Careers That Fit Your Major
To find careers that fit your major, you can use quizzes, speak with advisors or the career counseling center, or research what university alumni are doing with your major.
Here are some career options for a number of majors:
10 Most Popular Majors
Many websites have compiled a list of the most popular majors based on income, degrees handed out, and general popularity. Here’s the consensus:
Business and Management
Finance and Accounting
When considering earning potential, it’s also a good idea to think about current events and societal changes, and how they can influence the essentialness of certain majors.
For example, in a post-pandemic world, what will the most popular majors be?
How to Double Major
Double majoring means you are fulfilling the requirements of two separate major programs during your undergraduate experience.
According to an article on CollegeRaptor, studies have found that roughly 25 percent of undergraduate college students in the United States double major.
There are pros and cons to double majoring. On one hand, it is very time-consuming and can be expensive–careful planning is required to double major and graduate in four years.
However, a double major can be helpful after graduation, as it opens up more career possibilities. It can also help you stand out in the job market.
Although there is variation from university to university, double majoring – like majoring – calls for advance planning and taking core classes, courses related to the major, and elective courses.
For some universities, courses can be counted twice for certain requirements. For example, a course in economics could count towards an economics degree as well as a political science degree!
Be sure to understand your or your student’s university-specific requirements by researching on the university website or speaking with an advisor.
According to CampusExplorer, some double majors may be smarter than others.
A report from The Teagle Foundation lists ten of the most popular double major combinations: Two business majors, foreign language and international studies, foreign language and political science, economics and mathematics, economics and political science, foreign language and biology, foreign language and economics, foreign language and business, economics and engineering, and foreign language and psychology.
Changing Your Major
If you choose a major and then decide it is not the right fit, do not worry! According to the National Center of Education Statistics, about 80 percent of students change their college major at least once.
Also, students change their major an average of three times during their undergraduate career.
CollegeXPress provides some reasons why students change their major. Your child may have interest in another major, new career goals, or just feelings of boredom or unhappiness with their majors’ courses and other requirements.
Watching for early signs of any of these emerging feelings can be helpful.
While it is possible to change your major later in your college career, it is much easier to switch majors in your first or second year.
To change a college major, research the major on the university’s website, ensuring that you understand the degree requirements. See where the courses you have taken so far may count towards your new major and which requirements you still need to fulfill. Next, schedule an appointment with your academic advisor or your university’s career counseling center to discuss this change. Make sure that you have submitted all the paperwork needed to change your major and that it has been approved.
Why Is Choosing a Major Important?
The Financial Benefits of Majors
Some career paths can offer higher incomes than others and greatly impact your lifetime earning potential.
Choosing a major can be a way to get a head start in some of these careers.
According to PayScale, the highest paying college majors include Aeronautics, Pharmacy, Business Analysis, Electrical Power Engineering, Actuarial Mathematics, Political Economy, Operations Research, Applied Economics and Management, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Petroleum Engineering,
One thing to consider is some majors are more competitive than others at certain schools. Be aware of the acceptance rates of certain majors at schools, and the processes you need to go through in order to get into these majors.
Different universities have different policies about when you must decide upon and declare your major, and how you need to get into your major of choice.
While a major is a gateway to your career goals, your major does not always define your career. Many majors are designed so that students can go on to do many things with them in their careers. Additionally, it can be easy to get distracted by family, friends, professors, and other outside opinions.
Remember that your child must choose what is best for them. It is important to think about their personality traits, passions, and talents when choosing a major!
For more information about the resources available to help your child determine a major, watch this video that discusses picking a major that pays off.
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