You can’t know all the things to consider when choosing a major in college before you do it, but luckily for you, you have this whole list to help you! Some people will start this list and stop after questions one, two, three, or even four, but the rest of the questions are just as important, if not more so. You see, majors aren’t just about what you like or what you’re good at, there are so many more things to consider when choosing a major in college! Read all the way through the list, and get ready to dig a little deeper before making these big decisions.
1. What Do I Like?
This little question is the simplest of all the things to consider when choosing a major in college. Chances are, you already know the things that you like. Go ahead and make that list right now, with plenty of room for more brainstorming around it. Include what topics in school you like, specific courses that you like, after-school activities that you like, genres of books, music, and movies that interest you, and even areas of study that capture your imagination that you’ve never had the chance to explore. Anything that you like has a place on this list.
2. What Am I Good At?
What you’re good at is a little bit more complicated, and it’s going to take some honesty and self-awareness to figure out. For instance, English classes were always super easy for me, and although I wasn’t bad at science, I had to work harder to succeed. Despite this fact, I wanted to study environmental science, which meant that I was setting myself up for a career path that would just naturally be more difficult for me than one centered around writing.
It’s not wrong to do this, and if all the other things to consider when choosing a college major had been in line for me, I might have continued to study environmental science. Still, when you make a mark next to everything that you are naturally good at, you might find that what you initially wanted to do isn’t what you have a foundation of skills in. It’s not impossible to build skills, especially if the field you’re working in is really fulfilling for you, but it’s good to know where you’re starting out.
3. What Careers Could I Get With My Degree?
Although your major might be really interesting to you, the career paths that will be available to you after you graduate might not be. Look up the trajectories of your areas of interest on search engines like Google, and also on the websites of the colleges you are looking at. The career center website is another great resource to check out. Make little arrows from each of the things in your list pointing to possible careers that could come from that area of interest. You can do the same for things you are good at, and then consider where they overlap.
There are some things that you can be interested in and passionate about that don’t have to be your career path. Projecting yourself into the future just a little bit to what a future career may look like can be one of the most important things to consider when choosing a major in college.
4. Will I Be Able To Make The Money I Want To Make?
Money isn’t everything, but after you graduate you will find out that it is, in fact, very important for your overall wellbeing. Why is this true? The money you make will buy your food, your shelter, your health insurance, your transportation, your clothes, your gifts to other people, etc. If you can’t afford these things in the ways that you need to, it will significantly impact your life. You might not need six figures to afford these things (and it is highly unlikely you will get a career with this kind of salary fresh out of college), but you should generally know your target salary. Assess if this is attainable.
5. Will It Make Me Happy To Study?
Maybe you are good at math and you realize that math can get you a career with a sizable salary. Maybe you even like math; it can be fun to solve problems, after all. This is all well and good, but if you are spending hours on homework every night, it’s important to pick a major that won’t make you totally miserable now and that you won’t resent practicing the rest of your life.
You will resent any homework you have to a certain extent, but if you choose the right college major, resenting having homework, in general, won’t be the same thing as hating having to do specific work. For instance, a fourteen-page paper makes me feel stressed, but actually writing it isn’t the worst thing in the world for me and there are parts that I actually enjoy.
Although you can’t know the specificities of everything before you try it, the work that you genuinely find happiness in doing is one of the important things to consider when choosing a major in college. You don’t have to hate your life, even when there are things that make you feel stressed.
6. Do The Colleges I Want To Go To Have This Program?
Some people are drawn to a particular school, and some people are drawn to a particular program. Although it is ideal to have these things line up, it doesn’t always happen. If you really wanted to be in the city and none of the schools in the city have the program that you want, you need to get serious about what is a need and what is a want in your college experience. You can’t sacrifice everything you want, and you can’t sacrifice anything you need. If you do, you probably won’t be so pleased.
Specific cities, towns, and campuses aren’t for everyone. Specific parts of the country aren’t for everyone. You don’t want to go somewhere where you don’t have at least some interest in living, especially because you will be making a lot of connections in that area. Connections are very important for finding a career out of school, after all.
7. Do I Need A Specialized Concentration, Minor, Or Program?
Hopefully, you have come up with specific things you are interested in by comparing what you like, what you’re good at, what career path you might want, what future financial opportunities you’ll have, and what will make you happy to study. In order for all those things to overlap for you, you might have to study a specific minor or concentration, or you might need a specific program in your major to be exposed to your interest area.
For instance, if you have an interest in international relations and Japanese, you will need to go somewhere that you can take courses in both of these things to set you up for exactly what you hope to be doing. This is especially true for careers that you will need a second language to do, that you will need specific scientific exposure to do, and even for the arts. Make sure to consider if all of your things can overlap.
8. Am I A Competitive Applicant For This Major?
If you are naturally good at something, like me in my English courses, you will naturally be a more competitive applicant and you will have a greater chance of getting into more competitive schools. This might not be important to you, but the sad reality is that it could be important for your chosen career path. Also consider what your extra-curricular activities are, and how that might help you. Ultimately, you will want to put together a streamlined application that makes sense to the committee reading it.
Whether or not you are a competitive applicant is one of the important things to consider when choosing a major in college because it is actually easy to switch from some majors and into others. This means that you can apply for something you are more competitive for, and then switch or even double major instead of the area you initially got in for won’t actually make you happy. If your major requires a specific program this will be a challenge, but hopefully, you already answered that question for yourself.
9. Will I Be In Line With My Values?
You could like it and you could be good at it and it could even make you money, but if your major and subsequent career path won’t be in line with your values, you shouldn’t be doing it. For instance, a lot of research positions that help advance medicine for the human race rely on animal research. This means that you will need to be involved in activities that may or may not feel like animal cruelty to you on a regular basis. If you have very strong, fundamental feelings about animal cruelty, you should definitely NOT be going into this kind of research. Do you know what I mean?
10. How Do I Feel About People I Know Who Have Studied This, Too?
This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it can help you decide between different paths that are equally as interesting to you. The fact of the matter is that the types of people that you interact with within your field won’t be going anywhere. How you feel about those people is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a major in college if you will be doing something that requires a lot of collaboration or interaction with coworkers.
It is also important because the students you are surrounded with all the time are likely to become your friends. If you hate people who major in engineering but feel really comfortable with people who like working with computers, that’s probably a feeling that you should trust.
It’s hard to know all the things you should consider when choosing a major in college before you actually choose one, but this list will help you make the best choice possible!
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