The Big Decision: How Should I Decide My Major In College?

The Big Decision: How Should I Decide My Major In College?

So you’re reaching the end of your time as a high school student and are preparing for the next step. You may be weighing the options of where you want to attend college and what the different universities you’re considering may have to offer. Yet the essential question to solve is deciding on what you want to spend the next four years studying. This decision will play a role in your career trajectory and allow a variety of different paths to open up after graduation. All of this entails knowing your strengths, passions and expectations, as well as what your goals are.

Here we’ll take a look at a few steps that will make choosing a major less difficult so that you can get the most out of your education in preparation for a career.

Factoring in Your Abilities & Interests

At first it may seem that choosing a major is a straightforward process. It’s something you’ve probably already been contemplating based on your own academic interests and aptitudes. You could choose something that would lead to a lucrative field with a lot of growth and prestige, yet if it’s a job you’ll end up hating, you’ll be doing yourself a great disservice. The best approach is to go after something that will be stimulating and challenging, and choose a course of study that will get you there. You can also consider speaking to your school’s guidance counselor to consider some options based on your abilities and interests.

Making Real-World Connections

Since the connection between a college major and a career is often directly related, you can also get a taste for what a particular career might be like by participating in a job-shadowing program. You’ll have a chance to see what day-to-day life is like in a given field and get a better understanding for the demands, satisfactions and pressures of the job. It’s also possible that getting acquainted with certain folks in a particular field can serve as recommendations for college applications or a resume later on.

Get in touch with people working in a given industry and arrange for a conversation to ask them some in-depth questions about their work and why they chose to pursue that career. As someone who also knows the difficulties of choosing a major, these professionals may be willing to speak to you about trying to narrow down your educational focus and career goals.

You can also go beyond the confines of a strictly academic perspective by gaining some volunteer experience. Choose to get involved in local community work, or if you’re already a volunteering veteran, consider going overseas to participate in helping a struggling community in Africa, the Caribbean or Southeast Asia. A volunteer abroad program can enable you to develop some leadership skills, gain an exciting experience and possibly inspire some ideas on a future career. Stepping out of your comfort zone and making some new accomplishments can be the basis for taking stock in your own talents and learning what you’re capable of achieving.

Balancing All the Factors for a Great Choice

Choosing your college major depends on a variety of different factors that should all be weighed before making your choice, which can be an overwhelming decision. Keeping in mind the things you’re most interested in, knowing what will turn you off, and knowing the kinds of challenges you’d be interested in taking on can all be ways of finding a practical field of study that’s right for you.

Deciding on a major can not only lay the groundwork for a career, but also be an enriching life experience in which you learn new ideas and see the world in a larger, broader perspective. A college education is a good means of preparing for life as a whole. Be aware of what’s available in today’s job market, but remember that one way of measuring success isn’t in the career itself, but in the satisfaction and accomplishment one derives from it.

Photo credit: David Castillo Dominici on