How to Choose Your College Major

Written by  //  2013/01/07  //  College Major  //  Comments Off on How to Choose Your College Major

While at college, you’ll be required to choose a major or a course of study that you will emphasize. Most colleges allow students to take basic courses during their first year of study before requiring that a major be declared beginning with their sophomore or junior year.

If you’re not sure what major to declare, there are several steps you can take to determine your course of study. Read on for some tips on how to determine the college major that is right for you.

1. Perform a Personal Assessment.
If you have an artistic personality, then analytical majors such as engineering or science are not right for you. At this point you can immediately eliminate the majors you would never consider to focus on those majors that might interest you.

Still, you may find it difficult to narrow your list to a few majors that interest you. Fortunately, your college’s career center offers a number of self-assessment tests that can help you understand your interests and fine tune your approach to college. Sign up for these tests and discuss the results with your college adviser. Likely, you’ll have two or three areas that are strong possibilities for a college major.

2. Recognize Your Abilities.
You have certain skill sets that can be useful in helping you map out your career path. For example, if you love to read and enjoy the classics, then liberal studies may be the approach for you.

Further, you may find that you have some of the skills a teacher possesses, but not possess the interest to teach students. You may discover that you’re entirely comfortable with conducting research, possessing the same requirements of a teacher, but with much less interaction with your subordinates.

3. Know What is Important to You.
Everyone places value on some thing in life. Those values can include contributing to society, helping others, associating with a group, personal status, job security and impacting people.

If there is something that you value, then take that desire to find a way to make a difference. For example, if working toward a cleaner planet is a passion for you, then majoring in environmental sciences can pay off. Find what you like to do and shape your major accordingly.

4. Understand the Various Majors and Career Paths.
It can be nearly impossible to know where you’re going unless you understand what is out there. This means reading up on your major, discovering what jobs are associated with your educational path and your career options.

An excellent tool for career exploration and job analysis is O*NET OnLine at http://www.onetonline.org. This website provides detailed information about occupations including the anatomy of an occupation, a spectrum of occupations and real-world data. Individual reports are prepared to give you detail information about the job, its industry, pay, outlook and more. O*NET is developed in cooperation with the US Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration. You can also check the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov for related information.

5. Envision Where You Want to Be.
Determining what college major to take involves imagining yourself in a certain field and working in a specific job many years down the road. Certainly, this can be difficult to do as you haven’t worked one day in the job yet.

This is where you want to talk with people that already are employed in jobs you eventually want to do. Ask around, likely you or someone you know is already working in that field. Your college career office can help out too by putting you in touch with grads that have taken the path you are considering and are now employed. You also need to be honest with yourself as you explore your career options. Family and peer pressure may be dictating your career path, but your heart is saying something else. Listen to your heart as you’ll be spending many years working in a career and that career should be something you are passionate about.

Considerations

College students considering a major have other resources available to help them pinpoint their interests. In addition to your college adviser, your professors can prove to be an excellent resource of information. Many professors have held jobs in the private sector or have worked at other colleges. Your fellow students can also help out, sharing their experiences and discussing what helped them find the path to take. Alumni, family and friends are good sources too, people who have traveled down the path you are taking and can offer vast input into the way that you should go. Finally, ask a librarian for books on careers and read articles that offer first-person accounts of day to day responsibilities.

Amanda Green is Brand Manager at RHL, leading online supplier of college bedding .

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