Deciding on your major in college is a HUGE decision, and yet, most students struggle with how to choose a major with little to no guidance. What’s worse, most college applications will even ask for your intended major on the application form, putting you as a high school student on the spot.
But lucky news: most 4-year colleges and universities don’t require you to choose an official major until the end of your sophomore year. And that intended major on your application is taken with a grain of salt. Most colleges know that students end up changing their majors once they’re actually at the school, so don’t panic if you’ve started the courses for your intended major and aren’t loving it. YOU CAN CHANGE, and it’s absolutely acceptable to do so.
But how do you go about choosing the right major?
Take some time for yourself, away from distractions and other people’s opinions, and calmly think about what major is right for you using the following prompts:
How to Choose a Major: Self-Exploration Questions
1. What do you love to do?
Passions are fueling and can drive a student to choose a major without any second thoughts. But not everyone has one major passion in their life. Take a moment to write down all the different things you love to do in your free time, at school, with your friends, etc. This list can include things that you are good at or not.
Once you’re done writing down the list, circle things that you would like to explore more and possibly extend into a career choice. Do you see any correlations? When you look at the activities you’ve circled, do any majors come to mind?
2. What do you love to study?
Think about your high school career and your free time at home. What are the things that you repeatedly come back to again and again? Which classes did you enjoy the most? Why? If there were courses that you took just for fun and not for graduation credit, this is a good indication that you enjoy that subject and could enjoy studying it more in-depth as a major.
Likewise, if you repeatedly read books of the same genre or sign up for extracurricular subjects, you should consider this as things you enjoy studying. This could include so many things, from Bible study at church to the equestrian team or dance class and writing competitions. All of these things make up your interests, skills, and passions.
3. What future jobs would I be interested in?
Separate from what you have written down as things you enjoy and classes that you’ve appreciated in the past, now consider different jobs you’ve contemplated for the future. Do any of those jobs overlap with your interests and passion, or things that you already enjoy studying? If not, do you see any jobs where you could incorporate those interests?
For example, if you enjoy Spanish class and are interested in a healthcare career, this is a great combination that will set you apart in the medical field! Even if you just minor in Spanish, you’d still be able to gain a skill set that would be useful in your healthcare career, and you’d get to take classes that you enjoy.
4. Does the possible pay matter to me?
Now that you have an idea of some jobs that correlate in some way to your interests, consider how much those jobs pay, and perhaps do a little research to find out average salaries both across the nation and in the area where you imagine living in the future. Does the pay bother you? Could you live off this salary on your own?
This is a great topic to bring up with your parents and teachers to consider how much you should aim to earn to help you narrow down not only the option you are interested in but the option that will sustain you after college. While you might not want to consider it as the driving factor for which major and career you choose, do keep it in mind. Passions are great, but you will need a job that pays the bills while you pursue them.
5. What are the downsides to the major I’m considering?
At this point, you probably have at least one major in mind. Select two more as backup majors for a Plan B. Now consider any disadvantages to the major you’d like to choose. Will you be ready to enter the workforce after college or continue to grad school with this major? Should you double major to have more expertise for the career you’d like to go into? Can you complete this major on time with the courses you already have?
Bring up the majors you are considering to your family, friends, and teachers. What do they think of you choosing this major? Do they see it as a good fit for you? In the end, you are deciding which major to choose, but having those that know you best offer their input is a great way to collect all the information to make the best decision.
Have you chosen a major yet?
We hope these self-examining questions were helpful to you. Having an expert in college and career advice to coach you through this process is one of the most helpful tools to have in your toolbox. Send us a message today with your questions about choosing a major to help you choose a major you will love.