How to Choose Your College Major
Discover Your College Major 🤩
You may already be familiar with the panicky feeling raised by the question, "what do you want to major in in college?" Like many high schoolers, you may not know what you want to major in, and that's okay! It feels like a huge decision, but remember that most people change their major two or even three times in college. Choosing a college major doesn't mean boxing yourself into a corner; you still have time to explore and decide if it is the right path for you. In the meantime, here are some things to help you start narrowing down your options.
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What is a College Major? 🧐
According to U.S. News, "A college major is a structured program of study built around a particular discipline. Curriculum offerings focus on exposing students to the knowledge and skills needed to work in their area of study." These college majors range from the more conventional fields, such as business and education, to the less conventional, like unmanned aerial systems or wine production. Deciding on your college major determines what you study, what your degree will be in, and what future job prospects might open up to you. It can set you on your career path and introduce you to friends and networking contacts within the field.
Researching Careers 🔎
Factors to consider when finding potential careers include academic, social, personal, and financial aspects. How much time are you willing to spend in school? Do you want a career centered on working with other people, or do you prefer to work more independently? What sacrifices are you willing to make (for example, would you give up weekends or family time)? What kind of lifestyle do you want to live, and how much money do you need to support that lifestyle? Use the links below to identify some potential careers. Then, delve deeper into those careers to see whether or not they might be a good fit for you.
Discover Your Major 🤓
Answer the following questions. They're not for a grade, but they are to help you! So make sure they are complete, thorough responses. Think about what interests you. What prompts your curiosity? How do you like spending your time?
What is your MBTI from www.16personalities.com? What are a few jobs that interest you based on this type?
What are the steps to take to get to that job?
What are the job requirements?
When you've identified a couple of careers that interest you, find out what majors could put you on that path. Remember that there isn't always one set path to a career. For instance, you don't have to major in Political Science to be a lawyer, though many do, as long as you meet the requirements to get into law school. Whatever you major in, it should be something that interests you.
Building a College List ✏️
A good model to follow when building a college list is the three-tier method:
- Safeties: Schools where your numerical stats (SAT, ACT, GPA) are in the top 25% of admitted students
- Targets: Schools where your numerical stats are in the middle 50% of admitted students
- Reaches: Schools where your numerical stats are in the bottom 25% of admitted students
Make sure to have a good balance between your safeties, targets, and reaches.
Finding Colleges with the Right "Fit" 👖
As you research colleges, here are a couple of factors to keep in mind:
- Distance: How far away are you willing to go?
- Location: Urban, suburban, or rural? What's the weather like there?
- Major: Does the school have a good program for your prospective major?
- Extracurriculars: What groups, clubs, and societies might you participate in?
- Culture: What's the vibe of the school?
- Financial Aid: How does financial aid work there?
- Career Onestop
- Writing the "Why this College Major" supplemental essay
- If you're undecided
- What applying to college undecided means
- The impact of switching majors
What Next? 🤔
Once you've identified some colleges you may be interested in, there are a couple of things you could do. If you're an organizer, a spreadsheet is a great way to compare colleges and have all of their information in one place. Additionally, you may want to look even deeper at the colleges on your list. Many colleges host information sessions, college fairs, and campus tours. College visits especially are great for getting a feel for the vibe at a school. Plan a couple, and see where the college journey takes you.