A MAJOR Decision:
Choosing What to Study in College
It’s common knowledge that your chosen college major determines your future career, and therefore your future socioeconomic status. While you can technically head off to college without committing to a major, this severely hurts your chances of having a successful college experience and subsequent professional life. In fact, most unemployed and/or homeless people point to choosing the wrong college major as the moment everything started going downhill.
In case you haven’t picked up on it, I'm completely joking. While it is important to pick a college major that you think will benefit you most, it will not make or break you. Personally, I know a Spanish major in medical school, a biomedical engineering major working in marketing, and a political science major working with a successful cosmetics company. While it’s best to choose your major after careful time and consideration, you’ll be OK no matter what... I promise.
First and foremost, find out when your school requires you to have chosen your major. Some colleges want you to list a major on your application, and some don’t require you to declare until sophomore or junior year. Figure out your college’s deadline, so that you can plan accordingly.
When I entered college, I had no idea what I wanted to major in. At first, I planned on picking a science so that I could follow in my father’s footsteps and become a doctor. By sophomore year, I had firmly decided on English Literature. Huge change, right? I chose my college major after taking a variety of introductory classes freshman year, getting a feel for the different paths available to me, and choosing something I loved. Now I work as a freelance writer, and I couldn’t be happier. However, everyone arrives at their college major in different ways.
The Princeton Review lists four factors to consider when choosing your major. They are:
- Dream Job: If you know exactly what you want to be when you “grow up,” choose your college major based on what will best prepare you for that. Some students go into college with a clear vision of their future, and that’s amazing! Pick the courses that will set you up for success in your future profession.
- Big Bucks: Let’s be real – college is expensive, and you may want a career that will help you pay off any loans quickly and then create a comfortable lifestyle. If money is your sole motivation, check out a list of the highest paying college majors here.
- Passion Project: If you absolutely fall in love with a subject in school, you can pick your major based on that. If you eat, sleep, and breathe German or philosophy or chemistry or whatever it is, pursue it!
- Free Spirit: If you’re clueless about what you want to major in – and don’t worry, many students are – you can explore your options. Consider these different factors, learn a bit about new subjects that interest you, and make the best decision you can by the declaration deadline.
It seems simple when it’s spelled out like this… but what if you’re still totally unsure? Explore this handy list of potential college majors here and see if anything leaps out at you. If you want to have a little bit of fun, take some of these quizzes to see which majors you get matched with! While they may not give you the exact answer you seek, hopefully they will make you think in specifics about what you do and don't want in a major.
At the end of the day, you should pick a college major based on your personal priorities. Whether it is income, your future job, your passion, your happiness, or whatever, just remember: there is no wrong answer. You can double major if you can’t pick just one or you can pick a minor in a totally different subject. You can take classes that have nothing to do with your major as long as you're hitting all of your major requirements too, and you can pursue any career you want after college. Work as hard as you can, and you’ll be unstoppable in any field.