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The Best Way to Choose a College Major

Going to college can be a big step in your life. It is the first step in furthering your education and then heading into what is hopefully a long and fruitful career. However, choosing your major can be difficult. There is the fear that you might make the wrong choice and whether it will be suitable later on. Also, you may be uncertain about which career path you are heading towards and this can cause more confusion.

There is no magic formula to choosing your major but there are ways to rationalize the process and help you to make a considered, informed choice. Read below for some ways to make choosing your major easier and some things to consider. 

How important is a major?

There is a difference of opinion here. When you apply for college you may be expected to list your expected major. You won’t have to declare it at that point but you will be expected to have an idea of what you will major in.

Choosing a major means you can choose a college easier. If you know what you want to study then you will have to look for schools that have the right courses and then you can plan. On the other hand, some people believe the degree itself is more important than the major. 

Will your major affect your career?

Ideally, you would choose a major that is linked to the career you will one day embark on. There are certain careers such as accountancy or working in the health sector or law that would require specific majors. Other majors are open to a much broader range of job options.

Taking career advice can help you to choose your major. Speaking to a professional about your preferred job options could help to narrow down the choices of what to study. Thinking about what career might interest you is one way to help choose what to specialize in. 

Being 17 and trying to think of what career path you will take for potentially the rest of your life might seem pretty hard so you might want to look at other considerations.

Will your job be around in the future?

Graduating and gaining employment is your aim but even more important is if your career choice will still exist in the future. Many jobs that were once plentiful or common have disappeared. In many cases, fortunately, some jobs have long-gone, no one misses putting children up chimneys but other jobs have fallen away due to technology or modern conveniences. Milkmen are mostly a thing of the past, supermarkets employ fewer cashiers due to automated tills. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has listed several careers that are in decline. Many of the jobs are falling due to tech, think typists, mailmen, photographic processing, and travel agents.

Many more career paths will be narrowed in the future as innovations replace processes normally carried out by humans so you need to think long term with your major choice.

Will you be employable?

Having a degree will already increase your chances of employment but having a strong or relevant major can help in certain fields. Accounting, finance, and computer science are some of the best majors when it comes to finding employment after graduation. On the other hand, visual and performing arts and drama will lead to low salary expectations, however, you may value your passion higher than salary. 

Think about your future salary

Although money isn’t everything it certainly is handy when it comes to paying the bills. You will likely be taking out a student loan and you need to think about how you will be paying this back. Will your future career provide a big enough salary. Also, by projecting your future earnings you can then budget your student loan properly. Alternatively, you could apply for a scholarship which would ease the debt burden that many students suffer. 

Don’t think too much about your future salary though

You do indeed need to make money in the future but the size of your salary may not be the most important thing to you. When you are thinking of which area to major in think about what you like doing and what you are good at. 

What were you good at in high school?

If you had an aptitude in a certain subject then this may be an area worth exploring for your major. If you didn’t enjoy science at school then there is little point in choosing a related major even if the earnings potential is massive. A happy student is far more likely to succeed than one studying for the wrong reasons. 

Choose something you are passionate about

Another way to choose a major is to pick something you truly love doing. If that happens to be performing arts then so be it. There is no law saying you have to take a STEM subject.

Choose by your beliefs

If you have values that play a big part in your life then choose a major that represents those. Perhaps you want to work in environmental protection, so look for a college that has a relevant course available.

Make a list of all the college majors that interest you, this may help you to focus more clearly. Once you have your list you can consider which ones appeal the most and strike out the ones that don’t. 

Can you change majors?

Luckily the answer is yes which takes away some of the stress of declaring your major. In fact, it is likely you will switch majors as the majority of students will do this at least once in their college life.

Many students find after beginning their studies that their interests change or they want to study the same field but in a more specific way. The downside to switching is that you may have to start from scratch again. If your current major overlaps with the new one then you may be ok but if you are switching to something very different then all the work you have done will be for nothing. The other negative aspect of switching is you may now have to wait longer to graduate meaning more college debt or expenses. 

What if you can’t decide between two options?

You have two options here. You could take a minor to supplement your major. They have fewer requirements to finish than a major does and you can also take one in a completely unrelated field. If you know you want to work with technology then a major in computer science would be ideal along with a minor in drama because that is where your passion lies.

Alternatively, you can take a double major which means just what it says; studying two majors simultaneously. If you only want to do one major and really cannot decide which one to do you could put a few choices in an online randomizer and see which one comes out top! Remember, you can always switch majors later. 


Declaring your major at such a young age and before you have yet to even start at college can be daunting but choosing through your skills, career hopes, passions or beliefs can be a way to narrow down your choices and make it easier.

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