Picking a College Major

One of the most important (and hardest!) decisions you will make in college is choosing a major.  First of all, your college major determines your courses and course load for your college career.  Students who major in mathematical and science related fields will have a very different set of classes than students who major in foreign languages or philosophy. Your college major also sets the tone for your career and your life after college, and can provide a powerful tool for getting a good job after college.  For that reason, picking a college major should be given careful consideration.

The major you choose at college can determine your career path (photo by Social Science).

-          Some experts advise that you wait until you are at college to pick your major.  At most schools, the first one or two years of college involve mostly prerequisite classes, which are general classes in a variety of subjects that are required for every student.  Waiting until after you’ve taken a semester or two of prerequisites to pick your major allows you to see how you enjoy various studies and academic disciplines before making a choice.  Classes that you thought you would enjoy might end up being less exciting, and you might take a liking to a subject that surprises you!

-          Ask as many questions as you can!  When you are considering a major, talk to everyone who can give you insight into the major.  For example, talk to your academic advisor, to the professors who teach that subject, to upperclassmen who are majoring in that subject, and even to professions in related fields. By asking questions about the major, the academics involved, and possible careers, you will be more able to determine if the major is one you want to pursue.

-          Consider your college.  Some colleges and universities are known for their expertise in certain subjects. By considering a major that your college is known for being great at, you can ensure the best quality teachers and the best consideration of your degree in the workplace.

-          Think about possible careers. Before declaring a major, consider what careers you want to pursue.  Look at the types of jobs that are generally associated with that major. Also, consider the pay of those jobs and the expected rate of job growth. Making sure that you pick a major that will lead to a career that will pay your expected salary is especially important for students going to school using student loans, which will have to be repaid.

-          Consider unusual or new degrees.  With the rapid change in science, technology, engineering, and other disciples, there are a variety of new and different degrees being offered at various colleges and universities.  While a degree in food sciences or natural resources is certainly outside of the norm, they can lead to high-paying jobs in emerging and expanding fields.

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