One of the most pervasive myths about college is that the key to success is picking a major right away, and sticking with it. While this might be the opinion of your parents or even your peers, it’s simply not true. Research shows that students who change their major or are open to exploring their options are more likely to graduate, as compared to students who feel pressured to declare a major immediately. Nonetheless, choosing a major is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make while you’re in college. It’s important that you make your choice confidently and after some consideration. These are a few tips for how to choose a college major.
There’s Nothing Wrong With Being “Undecided”
If you’re unsure how to choose a major, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Between 20 and 50% of college freshmen enter school without a declared major. It’s important to keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong with remaining “undecided” or “undeclared” for the first few years of your college career. After all, many schools treat the first two years of college as “pre-requisite” years in which students take their required, general education credits. You can use this time to decide what you’re interested in and what you really don’t want to pursue. Also, keep in mind that even if you do declare a major your freshman year, you can always change your mind. About one-third of first-time college students change their major within three years. Even more, over 60% of college graduates say they would go back and change their major if they could, primarily to pursue their passion areas and expand their job opportunities.
Explore Your Passions and Abilities
While deciding how to choose a major, make sure to set aside some time to really explore your passions and take stock of your unique abilities. If you’ve chosen to start college with an undeclared major, you can take time to really delve deep into what interests you. Join clubs around campus to connect with fellow students who share your interests. Take electives in areas that you might not otherwise have an opportunity to experience. For example, when else might you be able to take a poetry course or an art history seminar? College is the perfect time to step out of your box and expand your horizons. As a student with an undeclared major, you’re uniquely positioned to do just that.
Consider Employment Opportunities
While it’s important to choose a major that interests you, or even a major that reflects your passions, it’s also critical to choose a college major that will provide you with future employment opportunities. Statistically, the college majors that tend to have the most earning power are in STEM. These majors might include health sciences or computer engineering. Business majors can also expect a higher than average earning potential. That being said, employers frequently recognize that graduates who majored in the liberal arts have valuable soft skills, too, including strong communication, written and verbal skills, and leadership abilities. The key is to pick a major that will be marketable for the career you’re interested in pursuing.
Minors and Double Majors
If pursuing just one major won’t satisfy your academic curiosity, you should consider double majoring or adding a minor to your program of study. Pursuing a double major will sometimes add more time to your college experience, while a minor most likely won’t. The purpose of a double major is to provide you with a deep understanding of two academic fields. Many students choose to double major in related fields. For example, a student might choose to pursue a double major in human services and psychology. A minor, on the other hand, typically serves to enhance the knowledge a student possesses in a particular academic area. An education major, for example, might pursue a minor in psychology in order to enhance their knowledge of child development. If choosing one area of study seems impossible, adding a supplemental major or a minor can be a great option!
Talk to an Academic Advisor
Worst comes to worst, if you need a little guidance, set up an appointment with an academic advisor or career counselors. Career development counselors and academic advisors can help you narrow down your options. If you have an idea of what classes you’ve most enjoyed and what career paths are most appealing to you, working with one of these professionals might be the final push you need to pick a major.
Choosing a college major doesn’t have to be a fraught process. After all, many students wait to choose their major until after starting college. The most important thing to remember is that your major should be a reflection of your interests and career goals. If you need a little help choosing, you can always set up an appointment with an academic advisor!
Not sure what major you want to pursue? Check out University of Bridgeport’s list of majors here!