How to Choose Your College Major

How to Choose Your College Major

One of the hardest decisions you have to make in college is what to major in. Unless you are one of the lucky few who has known since childhood what job you wanted, you may find yourself torn in several different directions as you try to decide where to focus your studies. It may help to remember that many people end up working in a different field than the one they studied in college, and there’s nothing unusual about changing careers at least once if not more often. However, even with the pressure off, you still need to choose a major, and these considerations may help you decide.

Consider Your Priorities

There are a few different criteria you can use to decide what your major will be. Consider your aptitudes, your interests, your values and how much money you can make by pursuing different degrees. Ideally, these will all align, but if they don’t, think about which ones are most important to you. It’s important to keep in mind that your major will not necessarily correlate with a particular career. If you are studying nursing, you’ll probably go on to be a nurse, but if you are pursuing a degree in the humanities, there are a number of directions you might go in, from law school to politics to journalism to education and many others. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is one site that can be helpful in describing salaries, job outlook and what educational path people generally take to enter various careers.

Weigh the Costs

Taking out a student loan with is a great way to pay for college. While there is no definite way to predict what your income will be like after you graduate, it might also be wise to avoid going into serious debt for a fine arts degree. If you do have your heart set on studying something that does not offer a clear career path, you might want to consider attending a less expensive school or supplementing your loans by working part-time. However, keep in mind that you may be able to refinance at a lower interest rate later. You might also be able to make small payments toward the interest while still in college.

Talk to Professionals

If there are a few career areas that interest you and you can’t decide between them, talk to your professors and to alumni. Your perception of what a certain job entails may be very different from the day-to-day reality. Some professionals are willing to do informational interviews in which they discuss what their job is like and what path they took to get there, including what their major was. You might want to visit your school’s career center and see what kind of resources are available. One problem that arises in choosing a major at the age of 18 or 19 is that there may actually be careers that you would enjoy that you are unaware of. Your school’s counselors may be able to point you toward some of these.

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