The complete guide to choosing a college major

The complete guide to choosing a college major

College is an exciting time in your life. For the first time, you’ll be free from the supervision of your parents or guardians. However, unless you’re paying your way through college, you’ll still be dependent on their financial support. This combination of freedom and dependence is something you’ll never experience again, but don’t spend all four years merely enjoying it – you should take advantage of this time to determine exactly what you want to do with your life. It’s not a big deal if you left the “Desired Major” space on your college application blank, but you’ll have to fill that blank out eventually. Here are a few tips that will hopefully help you make the right decision.

Take your time – but don’t waste time either

Every course you take during your freshman year counts towards your major requirements, even if you haven’t declared a major yet. If you take a year full of math and science courses and then, in your second year, you decide to major in history, you’ve essentially wasted a year due to the vast differences between mathematics and history degree requirements.

This example is extreme, of course. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do with your life upon entering college, and closely-related majors have many overlapping requirements, so it’s entirely possible to switch majors without having to spend an extra semester at school. Still, you should begin thinking about what sort of career you want right away.

Determine your likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses

It’s essential to recognize your strengths and weaknesses when choosing your major. If you’re good with numbers and enjoy it far more than reading and writing papers, you already know that a history degree or an English degree is not for you. Make a list of what you’re good at and how you like to spend your time. Use that list and compare it to various majors offered by your college or university of choice.

Take a ‘how to choose your major’ quiz

Choosing a major is stressful, but it can also be fun to take advantage of one or more interactive career assessment tools. There are a variety of online options available that can help you choose a career path and major. Many will partner you with major choices and careers that could potentially fit your personality.

Talk to university professors and visit their departments

If you’re interested in a specific area of study, don’t be afraid to talk to a professor with questions about their area of expertise. Most UNI instructors and professors have also worked in other positions, usually in their respective fields. They will tell you about the job prospects that come along with getting degrees in their areas.

Don’t stop there. If you’re looking for more guidance, talk to a university advisor. Advisors can often offer the sort of perspective that professors cannot. They tend to be much closer to the curriculum requirements. They are also more candid about the realities of studying art, business, political science, or mathematics than professors might be.

Think long-term

When considering what to major in, remember that the reason you’re getting a college degree is to establish a career for yourself. Your major is perhaps the first really practical decision you’ll ever have to make, so take it seriously and do your research. Every major has its particular quirks that you’ll need to know about before making your decision.

Some majors can stand on their own without further study: a bachelor’s degree in business, like accounting, finance, marketing or entrepreneurship, can net you a stable, high-paying job right out of college. Other degrees require advanced study to be useful. 

What will it pay?

There is a saying that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. But love alone will not pay the bills. It’s important to understand your financial potential when choosing a major. If your goal is to live without the burden of financial strain, it’s best to think about majors that offer financial stability.

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College is an exciting time, and you should enjoy it, but you also shouldn’t waste it. Get interested in your future, and take advantage of the resources your university provides. You should be able to develop an effective plan of study before you’re required to declare your major.