Are you about to step into college?
Before you take one more step forward, keep in mind that choosing a major requires a lot of time and thought. It will affect your career opportunities in the future. Your choice will also affect your personal life and cost of living too.
Don’t fret, we’ve got a list of tips to help you make the right choice. Continue reading our in-depth guide to learn how to choose majors:
Consider Your Interests First
The first thing to consider is your list of personal interests. There’s no point in taking a college major that doesn’t suit your likes and passion. You may finish the major and launch a career but you’ll end up depressed and unsatisfied.
A good way to check if your interests and skills match the major you want, look at your current high school grades. Arrange your current AP scores from highest to lowest. This can indicate which areas you excel in.
Now that the ones you perform great in and choose which ones you feel naturally drawn to. If you have high AP scores in chemistry, mathematics, and other similar subjects, you could do well in the fields of medicine, chemical engineering, or mechanics, for example.
College Course Requirements
Not every college has the same list of requirements. Keep in mind that you might pass their general requirements but not the quota for a specific course or major. Take a moment to research the requirements for the major, the school, and the state you live in.
For example, you could pass the initial entrance exam to take up a major in Nursing. However, that school might only accept the top 100 applicants. This means you have to score high enough to fit into that quota.
Does that college or university accept people with GED certificates instead of high school diplomas? Do they accept foreign students who finished high school or an undergraduate course abroad? Always check first because these requirements could restrict which majors you can take.
Job Opportunities After College
Don’t forget that the pandemic altered how professions and careers operate now. A lot of companies realized that there is a real value in keeping a remote working environment. Working online, from home, is more than a niche now.
Remember that your major is not your career.
For example, you could take up a major in communications. This doesn’t automatically mean you can only work as a journalist. You could open up career doors in podcasting, YouTube videos, theater production, or even web design.
Think about people who take up majors in Nursing.
They don’t have to work solely as a nurse in a hospital. They can work for patients in their homes or at a hospice. Some people can make a higher income working as flight attendants with a medical background too.
Cost of Studying
Do you know how much you’ll spend on a particular major? This can change depending on which college or university you’ll attend and the city the school is in. You have to take into consideration the cost for enrolling, the expenses per unit, and the miscellaneous fees or laboratory fees too.
Add in the cost of living while studying your major. You have to factor in rent, food, Internet costs, and transportation.
Of course, there are a few workarounds for this. You could avail of a Go Clean scholarship or a student loan, for example, to reduce the initial burden. However, always remember that you have to pay back a loan or maintain good grades to qualify for a scholarship.
Don’t look at the initial costs only. You have to consider how much you’ll spend during the latter years of your major. Some courses get expensive as time goes by due to their laboratory fees or apprenticeship training.
What are Your Alternatives
Always have alternative options for majors. If you want to take up a course to be a medical technician, is there an alternate option to handle only X-Ray machines or to work as a nurse aide? These options guarantee you’ll still be in the field of your choice and in the school you like.
Having an alternative is also a smart course of action in case you no longer qualify for your initial choice.
College and University Options
Which colleges and universities offer the major you want? This is going to be a major factor when picking which one to take for the next half-decade. If the school you want to attend doesn’t offer the major you desire, you’ll have to either look for the next university nearby or an alternative major similar to what you want.
You have three major options: a community college, private college, public college, a university, and vocational colleges.
The type of college you pick can have lasting ramifications. For example, some big companies might prefer graduates from a renowned university. Other companies might not care and they’ll base their preferences on your skills and experience.
Of course, studying in a famous university could help get you through the door and at least get into an interview.
Proximity of School
When picking a major, check where you can take it. If your choice of school is too far, you have to ask whether or not you can relocate. A lot of people move out of their family homes for college but you shouldn’t make that choice simply because others do it.
Travel for school only if it’s worth the effort. Otherwise, you should consider studying the same major or something similar in a college that’s much closer to home.
Costs of living should also factor in this decision. Even if you’re ready to relocate, can you handle the expenses in your new destination? You might have to juggle taking on a job or two while finishing your college degree.
Duration of Course
Before you settle for a college major, you need to ask how long you can keep going.
Some people are great students but their income, personal problems, and attention span could hold them back from taking a major requiring more than two years. If you’ll take up a medical major, which can last for more than five years, you need to check if you can handle that much time in school.
The cost of studying is going to be a big factor. You could afford to pay for 2-4 years for that major but what if it requires a few more years of studying? This is especially the case for people taking majors in the medical or legal field.
It’s also a struggle to take a long college course if you already have a family. Maintaining work, taking care of kids, and handling other personal issues while going to school for years can take a toll on a person. You have to ask yourself if you can push through it all.
Check the Curriculum
Make it a habit to look at the curriculum before deciding on a college major. The school might seem great and the career opportunities might seem enticing, but you have to know what you’ll do while studying. What kind of subjects will you pay for and what kind of activities can you expect to undergo?
Also, check if the school offers an updated curriculum. Why take a major in Computer Programming if the school doesn’t teach languages like Python, C#, or Swift? Don’t end up paying for outdated information and skills you can’t use in the field!
Specializations in Choosing a Major
As mentioned above, one college major could open a whole mountain of career opportunities. Make sure to check if you can start narrowing your focus as soon as you step into college.
Take filmmaking as an example. You could enroll in a general Film Production course. However, you could then specialize in film directing, film producing, film writing, or film editing.
Specializations can sculpt your whole future career. They will put you into a tighter niche but that could be where you’ll excel and enjoy the most rewarding time of your life. Look into all the specializations offered for the majors you like and take time deciding which one you see yourself working in for decades.
At the end of the day, you will need external opinions to help guide you through the process of picking the right major. That’s why you’re checking out this guide, after all. However, it’s also a good idea to seek help from a career counselor.
Career counselors or career advisors can delve deep into the psychology of your choices. They can sort through your likes and dislikes, school performance, and personal life to help you make the right choice.
You don’t have to adhere strictly to their advice. However, it’s always good to know what they have to say before jumping into a big life decision such as picking a major for college. This decision will affect your whole life and career, after all.
Choose the Right Major Today
Now you know all the factors to consider when choosing a major. It’s not a light decision to make so take your time to go through this whole list. Seek professional advice, consider your interests, college options, and expenses.
Of course, picking a major isn’t the only big step to take in life. If you liked this guide and want more like it, don’t hesitate to go over more of our lists today. Discover our guides on technology, business, and others!