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How to Choose a College Major

At some point in the process of choosing a college, you may have to choose a college major, or at the very least begin to narrow your options. While being undecided for awhile is fine, you probably want to have some idea of what you want to do when you start the college application process. You want to make sure you make the right college choice, and there’s nothing worse than finding your dream school only to realize it doesn’t offer the major you’ve ultimately chosen. Even though you know you can’t put it off forever, choosing your major can be tough.

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When it’s time to starting making solid decisions about enrolling in college, many people have questions about how to choose a college major. Selecting a college major is a personal decision that involves you to spend time reflecting on your goals, likes, dislikes, skills, and aptitudes.You have to not only look at your interests, abilities, and goals, but also what you’ll need to be happy in the future. While it would be nice to have an interest in one of the highest paying college majors, it’s also important to choose a college major that will ultimately lead to a career you want in a place you want to live.

Ask Questions

The best advice we’ve found for how to choose a college major is just to ask questions. Talk to your school counselor, or if you’re already in college, consult your academic advisor or a career center counselor. Ask friends and family members about how they chose a college major or career. Finally, engage in some serious self-reflection and ask yourself questions about your past, present, and future.

Some factors to consider when selecting a college major include:

  • What type of career can you see yourself in?
  • What type of work do you enjoy?
  • What are your interests?
  • Which subjects did you enjoy studying the most in high school?
  • If you completed a career assessment in high school, what did the results indicate? (If you have never taken such an assessment, consider taking a college major test before selecting a program of study.)
  • What type of skills do you have?
  • Do you have any hobbies that you would like to pursue as a career?
  • What did you learn about what you like and dislike from your past work experience?
  • Are there in-demand career fields in the geographic areas where you would like to live following graduation?

Think About Careers

The answers to these questions can help guide your selection of a college major. For example, if you held part time positions in retail while in high school and you absolutely hated the work, you can immediately scratch retail management off your list. However, if you enjoyed the part of the job that involved setting up product displays, you might seriously want to consider a major in visual merchandising.

The college major that you select impacts the types of jobs you will be qualified for upon graduation. USA Jobs (http://www.usajobs.gov/EI23.asp), the official job website of the United States Federal Government, publishes a guide to college majors that details hiring qualifications, by major, for different types of federal jobs. This site publishes popular jobs with an appropriate college major list beneath each type of job.

Don’t Panic

Selecting a college major is an important decision, and it is not one that should be made lightly. It is important to remember, however, that declaring a major is not an irreversible decision. It is not uncommon for college students to change majors one or more times after they enroll in college. Sometimes, you need time, research, and reflection before you can choose a college major. Setting college goals can help you, as can understanding different college majors and how they can move you closer to your goals. Do your research, keep an open mind, and be honest with yourself, and you can choose a college major that will steer you down the path to success.

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Last Reviewed: November 2020