For many high school students, one of the biggest questions during the college planning process is “What should I major in?” Finding the right major isn’t an easy task for many students. Knowing that the major of your undergraduate degree possibly plays a key role in your future career makes the selection process even more stressful. If you’re trying to choose your major, the 5 tips below might be a great way to get you started. Even if you’re one of those students who knows exactly what you want to major in, these tips can also help you confirm your interest and get a head start on your academic career.
1. Explore Your Passion and Strengths
For many of you, your major determines not only what you will be studying in the next few years, but also what you will be doing for many years after graduating. You will probably be spending many early mornings or pulling some all-nighters doing homework and studying for exams. Therefore, it is important for you to find something that you enjoy learning and are good at. I’m not an expert on how to find your passion, but personally, I believe it is something that inspires and motivates you to achieve the highest level of performance. You can start creating a list of passions as simple as learning a foreign language, serving the community, etc.
Once a list of passions is created, it’s time to match them with your strengths. Exploring your strengths is important in the process because you don’t want to do something you know you’re not good at. For example, you might have dreamt about working as an accountant for one of the big four accounting firms; however, if you know you’re terrible with numbers, it might not be an ideal major for you. Another example would be majoring in journalism when you don’t have a strong writing skill. It is to your advantage if you choose something that allows you to earn more A’s than B’s.
2. Research, Research, Research
Once you have a list of passions that match with your strengths, it’s time to connect them to the real world. You should research about the types of jobs you can do with the major, the pros and cons of going into the field, the demand and supply in the job market, and the pay range of those entry-level positions. I have seen many recent articles suggesting that you should not follow your passion when making academic or career choices because doing what you love doesn’t necessarily mean a high paying job. Therefore, this second tip here is essential. If you are from a wealthy family and money will never be an issue, it might be not be so important for you. However, if you are like many others who will most likely be carrying student loans, which requires you to find a job with a decent salary right away so you can pay for your debts and support your living expenses, research will be a key step in the major seeking process. Payscale.com is a good resource that gives you some general ideas of the starting salary for your choice of major. The main point is, be realistic!
3. Reach Out to Current Students and Professionals
After narrowing down some potential majors, go out and talk to the current students who are studying the same majors. Ask them about the classes, the projects, the teachers, the school resources, and the overall experience with the program. Go to the local bookstore or library to read the related textbooks. You may also talk to the professionals who are currently in the field. If you want some hands-on experience, try to look for an internship in the career field or for volunteering opportunities in your area.
4. Be Your Own Decision Maker
When you research for the major you might be receiving a variety of advice from parents, friends, cousins, aunts, counselors, teachers, etc. For the most part, they all have good intentions and want to give you the best advice they have. However, they don’t do your homework, they don’t take your finals, and they definitely don’t live your life. So, you are really the ultimate decision maker of what YOU will be studying. What you should do is listen to the advice, digest it, analyze your options, and then make your own decision.
5. Give It a Try and Be Open-Minded
If you’ve realized you chose the wrong major after getting into the program, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, many survey results have shown that as many as 50% of college students change their major at least once before graduation. If for some reason you need to change your major (either it’s not a good fit for you or the circumstances don’t allow you to continue), then do your research again and make your decision carefully. It’s also wise to make an appointment to talk to your career service adviser for professional advice.
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