How to choose a college major? This question is on every student’s mind about going to college. It instills anxiety and worries in everyone who doesn’t have their mind decided. College is a beautiful experience for many but can be detrimental if one ends up in a major they do not truly enjoy.
We all envy the ones who have always known what they want to be when they grow up. However, for most students, things aren’t that lucky. However, you shouldn’t be stressing too much about it, as things have a way of turning out just fine.
Hence, we provide you with the ultimate guide on everything you need to know about choosing a major. Learn everything about its importance and whether you can change your mind later.
Why Is it Important to Choose a Major?
According to Central College, 75% of American students either start college undecided or end up changing their major throughout their years. There is no shame in either one of them. However, choosing a major should be one of your top priorities as a freshman, even if you enter without a solid decision.
No doubt, settling on one specific field instills anxiety in students. However, you should note that deciding on one major allows you to focus solely on one topic. While it could be agonizing, a major is a next part if you have set your mind on pursuing a college degree.
There are numerous reasons why choosing a major in college is beneficial. However, earning your college degree opens opportunities up for you. Hence, settling on a major allows you to concentrate on the field and explore options within.
Here are some of the reasons you should settle on a major:
- You will save money in the long term. Instead of spending extra years and money in college trying to find your passion, you’ll end up avoiding all those additional student debts.
- It gives you the chance to pursue your interests. Many students believe that what they like in life won’t lead them to a career. However, if you settle on something you genuinely enjoy, odds are you’ll build something out of it.
- It provides you with the opportunity to develop your skills within a specific field. Avoid having multiple interests and trying so many different things in college. Having one specific major enables you to enhance your skills there.
- Choosing your major before heading off to college allows you to narrow down the list of colleges. You won’t find that all colleges have the specific major you’re striving for. Hence, you’ll have ample time to prepare.
How Many Majors and Minors Can You Have in College?
If you’re wondering how many majors and minors someone can have in college, you’re getting a comprehensive answer. There is neither a national nor an international rule that governs the specification. On the contrary, each school allows you to have a different combination of both.
First of all, if you choose to pursue two majors, then contact your college of choice beforehand. Many also decide on a second major after their first year in college. However, to understand whether you qualify or not, contact your advisor or a counselor. For instance, many schools have specific criteria for whether you can take multiple paths. It often depends on your academic standing and your scores.
However, something to remember is that many schools don’t allow you to pursue diverse majors. They often have to be intertwined or are under the same department. For example, a common combination is Economics and Mathematics, as they’re closely related.
Another great alternative if you’re considering exploring a different field is choosing a minor. Declaring a minor allows you to delve into a completely different territory, enriching your knowledge within an area. However, remember that having a minor isn’t quite impressive for employees. Hence, if you decide to declare one, focus on how many personal and academic benefits it can provide you.
But what’s the problem with taking more minors and majors? It’s both the time and the money. According to NCES, the National Center for Education Statistics, 44% of those enrolled in 2015-2016 graduated within 48 months. This is with only one major to work on.
Hence, when considering another major, remember that you’ll likely spend more time and money in that college. While there is nothing wrong with that, weigh the pros and cons to find out if this is the ideal solution for you.
5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Major
Below is a list of 5 things to consider when choosing a major:
Find Your Passion
It’s easier said than done, isn’t it? Everyone always encourages you to find your passion, but you’re not particular about what you truly want to do. Well, one option is taking a gap year right before college to explore different fields. 90% of students who take a gap year end up in college afterward.
However, remember that simply taking a gap year doesn’t benefit you in any way. You’re encouraged to pursue different careers, explore experiences, take an internship, or develop your own skills.
Finding your passion allows you to participate in college activities and clubs of your choice. Moreover, it will make the whole college experience much more fun and enjoyable. Settling for something because others told you to do so will get you nowhere in life.
Reflect on Classes You Excelled In
Look back at your last 4 years in high school. Do any of the topics jump out to you? Did you excel in any one of them? This gives you a general guideline for choosing your principal if you’re confused. Whether it’s art, science, physical education, economics, or even English, it’s enough insight to tell you what you’ll be good at.
However, another thing to note is that high school topics are much simpler than what you will face next. Hence, while it’s generally an excellent way to determine what you’re good at, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll enjoy it later.
Once you have a short list of majors you’re considering, ask someone for their intel. Whether it’s a coworker, advisor, counselor, parent, friend, or someone in the field, the advice would be insightful enough for you to know your next step.
However, one piece of advice is never to take any advice to heart. People will narrate their personal experiences, which isn’t your story. Hence, whatever significant you do end up choosing allows you to draw out your own path. That being said, asking people within the required field about their experience will enable you to decide whether it’s something you want to pursue or not.
Consider a STEM Major
Studying a STEM major is guaranteed to open up doors for you after you earn your degree. For instance, studying technology allows you to go into coding, business, IT, or even artificial intelligence. On the other hand, physics as a pure science gives you the chance to specialize in particle physics, astronomy, and even biophysics.
However, STEM majors aren’t easy. According to Pew Research Center, 52% of adults state that people don’t pursue STEM majors because they’re too complicated. The rest believe that STEM won’t be beneficial to their future careers. Whatever you think, if you settle on a STEM major, prepare yourself for some hard work.
Your Financial Abilities
You can enroll in one of the top colleges worldwide, but without a scholarship, we bet things can be pretty expensive. According to CollegeCalc, the USA’s top three most costly colleges are the University of Chicago, Brown University, and the University of Pennsylvania.
If you’re considering studying in one of those, keep in mind that you’ll have to spend a lot of money throughout your education. However, these are also one of the top universities worldwide, so it might well be worth it.
How Do You Choose a Major if You are Undecided?
There are many steps to choosing a college major, especially if you’re undecided. Now, you can always enroll in some colleges and then specify your major. However, we recommend you do that for a whole year, as spending more time than that to figure out what your future career looks like will confuse you even more.
However, don’t stress too much about it. If you’re undecided and you decide to enroll in college either way, here is our advice on picking a major:
- Explore Passions: the first year of college is often the time when you get to explore what you want. Hence, even if you did choose a major but feel unsure, use this first year to find your academic passion. Don’t sulk around without doing anything or try to simply get through the year.
- Participate in Events: you’ll most likely find some specific clubs around campus that belong to some fields. Maybe you stumble upon an economics club or one about art. Explore those, and push yourself to talk to people and participate in group activities.
- Reach Out to Seniors: regardless of the major you’re in, reach out to seniors from other departments. This becomes easier if you befriend some people through club activities and extracurricular. You’ll find many outstanding people with good insight.
- Find Your Advisor: more often than not, your college will provide you with an advisor to help you through the years. Reach out to that person early on, and talk to them about it. Whether you’re considering a specific major or you’re still confused, they’ll be able to help you out with it.
- Consider a Minor: let’s say you settled on architecture as your major, but you’ve started to have a liking for archaeology. If your college provides it, you can always minor in it. More often than not, a minor simply adds a few courses to your curriculum, which is something you’ll probably be able to handle.
Can You Change Your Major Easily?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 33% of students have changed their major before graduating with a bachelor’s degree. So, if you believe there is a stigma about it, let it go. Many might judge you or comment on it, but it’s often the right career choice for students.
It’s typically relatively easy to change your major. However, it’s often best to change it within a year of being in your current one. Spending more than one year in a particular major then switching wastes time and money.
Moreover, many universities won’t allow you to switch after a specific point. That could be due to you having a scholarship, which won’t be able to carry you through numerous extra years of studying.
Consider these pointers before changing your major:
- Switching your major could allow you to pursue specific career goals you have in mind.
- It might impact your academic life, whether it’s spending more time or money.
- Your new major might provide you with more opportunities.
- Don’t ever change your major simply because you detest a professor or hate a course.
Hence, if you’re currently unhappy with where you are, consider switching. But before you declare that, talk to your advisor about it. Also, reach out to seniors, as what you’re experiencing right now might simply be a hard time in the major for everyone.
However, if you’re simply not satisfied but still unsure about the next major you want to pursue, consider the list of best college majors for the future. These ones will be in demand in the next couple of years:
- Petroleum Engineering
- Nuclear Engineering
- Software Engineering
- Computer Science
- Electronics Engineering
- Information Technology
Moreover, many undecided students end up going into technology-related or business-based majors. This allows you to acquire some basic skills that could be transferred into multiple other areas and careers. Hence, if you’re one of the students struggling incredibly and you’re not sure what your passion is, consider one of the two.
Wrapping Things Up: Everything You Need to Know About Choosing a Major
The bottom line is that there is no correct answer to which college major you should pursue. The correct answer will vary from one person to the other. Moreover, you’ll find that many students excel in more than one topic. However, it’s always a better idea to settle on one major, as you can pour your all into it and improve your skillset there.
Hence, when you’re confused or undecided, try experiencing more aspects of life. Whether through internships, following someone through their day at work, or talking to career advisors, it’s all bound to provide you with insight. Remember that it’s okay to take more time to figure out what your academic path looks like.