Your major in college is your specialized area of study and choosing one is the most important decision a college student can make. The major you choose will neither predict nor guarantee your future. Prospective students should be aware of how majors will position them for their desired industry and how earnings may vary by field over the course of a career.
Find your passion
Many students join clubs related to their major and befriend classmates within their area of study. A college major has the potential to shape postgraduate life, too, as students enter the workforce. Considering how a major can affect a student’s life both during and after college, it’s optimal to choose an area of sustained interest. You should focus on your studies and explore the skills you would like to build.
Consider career advice
Choose a major because it will prepare you for a specific career path or advanced study. Maybe you already know that you want to be a nurse, a day trader, a physical therapist, or a web developer. Before you declare, take a class or two in the relevant discipline, check out the syllabus for an advanced seminar, and talk to students in the department of your choice. Make sure you’re ready for the coursework required for the career of your dreams.
Speak about a major on college applications
Indicate a major when applying to college can help admissions officials better understand the candidate and how he or she may contribute to the incoming class. If your calling is philosophy, don’t write it off just because you’re not sure about graduate school, or what the job market holds for philosophers. You want the admissions officer to read your application and understand how you would fit into that campus community or into that class.
Future earning potential is worth considering—college is a big investment, and while college can pay you back in many ways beyond salary, this can be a major factor for students who are paying their own way or taking out loans.
However, graduates may leverage skills learned in one major and put those to use in an entirely different industry. When thinking about the salary, it’s more important to think about what the market will bear for particular roles or industries. It’s okay if the first job isn’t your dream job, just as long as you are learning and being challenged.
Major and a useful minor
If one field of study doesn’t satisfy your intellectual appetite, consider a minor. A minor is similar to a major in that it’s an area of academic concentration. The only difference is that a minor does not require as many classes. A useful major and minor combination can reinforce skills across disciplines and prepare students to work in more than one industry. It connects you to another discipline and changes, expands how you think about disciplines and expands your creativity and potential.
Can I change my mind?
Definitely. One of the most exciting aspects of college life is that it introduces you to new subjects and fosters new passions. You might enter undergrad enjoying physics, but discover a burgeoning love for political science.
As a student takes more college classes, his or her interests will likely expand alongside the knowledge gained. That could mean a student suddenly discovers a new passion that translates into a career.
Figure out the pros and cons of when you want to potentially change your major. Students should discuss the change with an academic adviser to make sure it works, but the sooner, the better.
Hesitating? Explore your interests
If you truly have no idea what you want to study, that’s okay. Make the most of any education courses—choose ones that interest you. Talk to professors, advisors, department heads, and other students. Find an internship off-campus. Explore your interests to fully fit major. Also, search for colleges that match your interests and are looking for students like you.