10 Tips for Choosing a College Major

students walking and discussing which college major to choose

The question “What should my major be?” is frequent among those starting college or thinking about it. Despite its popularity, the question is also very intimidating. Many new and aspiring college students struggle to choose a major, so here are ten tips on how to choose a college major that will be the best for you.

1. Take Some Time To Self-Reflect

Starting college knowing your potential interests can help you to make an initial list of possible majors. For example, if you know you enjoy writing, you could look at majors like professional writing, communications and marketing.

Right now, your interests could be as broad as “science” or be a specific profession in the scientific field. For example, if you have always wanted to do something in the medical field, you could explore what types of medical work interest you. Ask yourself if you would rather be a doctor or nurse and work directly with patients, or be the person in the lab doing research and helping advance medical care in everyday life.

Being clear about your general interests before you look into potential college majors will be very helpful in narrowing down what you want to study. Write down all the things that interest you, then start looking for majors that align with those interests. By doing this, you’ll begin to know which majors sound interesting and which don’t.

2. Search Online

When it comes to choosing a college major or career path, the internet has an abundance of resources that anyone can use. Many colleges and websites offer free “what should my major be” quizzes which analyze your answers. The website then suggests degree programs that might be a good fit for you. If you don’t agree, don’t worry. There are many more sources online to help you find your passion.

3. Explore Your Options

After figuring out what degree programs sound the most interesting to you, start looking at the class offerings in those programs. For example, GCU’s website helps people looking for a college major to compare up to four different programs from any of the seven undergraduate colleges at GCU. This page also organizes degrees based on your specific interests, and it gives you suggestions based on what you choose.

If some classes interest you more than others, that can help clarify your options for picking a major. In addition, when you start college, general education (gen-ed) courses and electives can introduce a variety of subjects. Psychology, math and history are gen-ed subjects that often spark interest. If you don’t know what path to take, use gen-ed courses or your electives to take a variety of classes in different areas to explore your options.

4. Take Advantage of Every Opportunity

Make sure you’re taking advantage of your school’s resources to figure out what programs best fit you and your interests. For example, check out clubs on campus that speak to your personal values. If you can, go to a meeting to see if you might be interested in joining.

Different programs also host events or bring in professionals in the field to speak to students, so make sure to explore all the options offered by the college. These events will help you understand what it might be like to work in that specific field, or they could give you insight into what your potential program could look like for you.

Most colleges have career centers — on campus or online —that can help you find careers, internships or volunteer opportunities while you are earning your degree. If you use these opportunities early, you will discover what kinds of careers you might want and what you don’t want, which can be just as helpful.

5. Network

Another great way to explore your options is to talk to people that have or had careers in one of your areas of interest. You can find professionals on campus or around in your everyday life. If you’re already in college, make sure to talk to your professors and college advisors. Ask them about their careers and about the connections they made pursuing those careers.

If you’re not on a college campus, ask people you’re comfortable with about their careers or if they know someone in your areas of interest. Reach out to people on the internet through sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, or use email to ask them some questions about their careers. Most professionals are happy to help eager students find their way, especially if you share a career interest with them.

6. Consider Adding a Minor or a Second Major

If you want to major in something broad to keep your career options open and you are a traditional campus student, consider adding a minor. Minors can require as few as four elective credit classes, and they can be extremely beneficial.

Minors provide the chance to explore other fields or areas you may be curious about. The coursework helps you gain additional skills that will look great on your resume and will complement the skills you acquire through your primary program of study. Do keep in mind that online students cannot have minors.

Adding a second major is another option. This can add a lot of classes to your course load, especially if your majors are very different, but it could make you more competitive if you apply to any postbaccalaureate program.

7. Think About Postbaccalaureate Education

If you’re considering a career that requires a postbaccalaureate degree, keep that in mind when choosing a college major. For example, if you’re considering a career as a lawyer, pre-law isn’t the only option for a major. Consider majors like professional writing or government instead. They also can get you where you want to go and help you explore your interests at the same time.

8. Consider Your Future Lifestyle Goals

For most students, college is a serious time and an economic commitment. When choosing your major, think about the kind of lifestyle you want in the future. Some important considerations are how much time you want to commit to earning your degree, how much freedom you want in your career and what salary you could earn.

Some careers, of course, make more money than others, but they also demand more. Consider doctors. They spend many more years than average committed to their education. The time commitment is high and they often work long hours. As you pick your major, be sure to keep all these things in mind and understand what you’re really looking for in the future.

9. Have a Backup Plan

When they pick a college major, some people do everything right and still feel they made the wrong choice, and that’s okay. Many people begin their college experience with an idea of who they are, but they soon develop interests that they never expected to have. Many students change their major in the first few years at college, so it would not be unusual for you to do the same.

Before you choose your major, make a list of all the possibilities at the college(s) you hope to attend. Keep the list, even after you pick a major. Then, if you think you want to choose a different major, your list of options is already started.

10. Remember Your Major Isn’t Everything

If you’re still stressing about choosing a college major, keep in mind that many employers look for certain skills and not a specific major. To make yourself marketable, remember that unless you want to do something specific, your major isn’t everything.

While you’re taking gen-ed classes or courses for your major, pay attention to the skill sets each class is trying to teach you. It could be a soft skill like communication or critical thinking or how to write a research paper, or a hard skill in your chosen disciplineeach one is important. Even if you end up doing something that doesn’t relate to your major, the skills you learned along the way will always benefit you.

Grand Canyon University offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs to fit every individual. Staff and faculty are eager to work with students to help them meet their career goals and find the right college major. Click the Request Info button at the top of the screen to find the resources you need as a future or current student at Grand Canyon University.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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