So you've gotten into college.
Congratulations, and welcome to the next part of your life: your career education.
We're sure you've got a lot on your mind, but we've got a question.
Have you decided on a major yet?
Majors are important in college because it's what determines not only what degree you will graduate with, but what career you will be most qualified for once you've graduated. While it might not be something you want to think about right now, it is something you're going to have decide on eventually.
So why not get started now?
Go through the bottom five tips and see if you can figure out your major before you even start college. Even if you're already at college, these tips might still help you in choosing the right educational path for you.
Let's get started.
1. What Excites You?
This is for your career, and you're much more likely to be happy and more disciplined if you choose a field of interest that's in line with what you would like to pursue as a dream job.
One simple way to figure out what the right major for you would be is to consider what you've been interested in. If you've always loved writing, try a major in English Literature or Creative Writing. If you've dreamt of being a chemist, choose a Chemistry major.
Alternatively, you may want to pursue a professional career, such as being a doctor or a lawyer. While pre-professional majors are available for these career paths, it's also a good idea to think of perhaps pursuing a double major.
For lawyers, this would be something like a dual major in Politics and Sociology or Economics. For doctors, this would probably include Biology, Chemistry, or Psychology.
Thinking of where you want to end up in your career will make your decision of a major much easier.
Take your time and think it through, then make your choice.
2. How Much Money Do You Want to Make?
It is undeniable that some careers just make more money than others, both as starting salaries and median salaries.
That means that some majors are more valuable than others, and as college is supposed to be an investment, thinking about your dream salary is of the utmost importance.
Majors in STEM subjects, government, statistics and economics generally bring in higher starting salaries for undergraduates. This is because the current job market is looking for highly qualified business professionals in these areas.
Majors such as English, anthropology, sociology and art history tend to bring in lower starting salaries; graduate degrees will often bring in higher salaries, which means more schooling and more investment in college.
There are many sites, such as Payscale, that can help you calculate what you can expect your starting salary to be with the major and career path that you choose.
However, please keep in mind that your happiness is very important, so don't choose a career that will bring you a great annual salary but that leaves you feeling depressed and unhappy in your profession.
3. Is the Career Path Location-Specific?
Some careers are location-specific and you don't even know it. Students who want to become astronauts will often be located in Houston, where NASA is housed, or even in Fort Lauderdale. Students who want to become politicians often spend time in New York or the nation's capital.
The list goes on.
So what does this have to do with choosing a major?
Well, depending on what your major is, you may want to think about applying to a school near the location which you most likely will be working in; this will help you land better internship opportunities as well as give you a feel for the environment of the career that you want to pursue.
When you're thinking of your dream career and your major, research if there are specific places in America that are hubs of that profession.
You'll probably find at least one school in that area that is well known for its programs in your area of interest.
4. What Schools are Best for Your Interests?
If you're one of those lucky students who knows what you'd like your major to be prior to applying for college, we suggest that you research your top choices first.
- Which ones are best known for your interests?
- Do these programs have a good reputation for helping students find employment in your field after graduation?
- Which schools offer world-class instructors who are still valuable assets in your industry?
These are important questions, because unfortunately, not all major programs are created equally.
You may find that some of your top picks aren't great for your major, which will affect which schools you do end up applying to.
If you've got your heart set on one particular type of major, keep that in mind when deciding what school you should attend.
5. Don't Panic
It's normal to go to college not having a clear idea of what you'd like to do as a career; it's also normal to think you know what you want to do as a profession only to change your mind halfway through your time in college.
Universities are ready for this.
Most schools won't expect you to declare a major until your sophomore or junior year, which leaves you room to finish the general requirements for your degree. You'll also have the chance to take electives, one of which may lead you to your new dream career path.
Before deciding on a major:
- Take more electives in that area of interest.
- Talk to professionals in the field; you should be able to find some within the school.
- Try to find an internship or a seminar session that discusses that career path.
Most of all, remember that college is about finding what truly motivates you, so don't panic if it doesn't show up right away. You have time.