How Do I Choose a College Major?

Choosing a college major can feel impossible, especially if you’re not set on a specific career. Rest assured, many college graduates work in different industries than what they’ve studied in school, which means your major won’t necessarily define you. However, you will spend a lot of time studying the major you select, so it’s smart to make the decision with as much information as you can get. Start by taking general classes to narrow down subjects you enjoy, then consider what you might want to do for your career.

Start With General Courses

Every college or university has a set list of required courses known as generals or prerequisites. All students, regardless of their majors, must pass these general education courses before they can earn a degree. If you start your freshman year of college with no clue as to what field of study you want to pursue, get started by enrolling in a handful of general education classes. You’ll get a better idea of which subjects interest you and which don’t, all while earning credit toward your degree.

Consider Your Future Career 

If your goal is to work in the medical field, it makes sense to choose a major that relates to science in some way. When your passions are more creative in nature, you might struggle if you major in math or science. It’s also smart to think about the earning potential of career options before you select a major. If you take out loans or pay your own way through college with savings, the potential to earn a higher salary is important for helping you pay back these funds. 

Some of the majors that offer the highest-paying jobs right out of school include engineering, statistics, actuarial mathematics, computer science, accounting, and physics. However, it’s difficult to do well in college if you aren’t motivated or enjoying the coursework. Find a way to combine what you love with a career option that offers the potential for a comfortable lifestyle to increase your odds of success.

Flexibility and Options

Some colleges require students to simply declare a major while others have GPA and coursework requirements before you get into a program’s advanced classes. If you have decided on a major but aren’t enjoying the classes as much as you thought you would, you can always make a change.

It’s better to figure out what you love in college instead of finding out after you earn your degree and start working in a career. You can always change your major, but it’s smart to meet with a counselor when making a shift to figure out which classes you’ve already taken will count toward requirements in the new program.

Your education is an investment, so deciding on a major should include considering how to get the best return on that investment. The ROI isn’t solely based on financial merit; taking courses that help you improve your knowledge and strengthen your ability to succeed in a specific field are also important factors.