The one question I remember being asked the most while in high school was some variation of: “What are you going to major in?” At the time, like many in my class, I had no idea. I think one of the reasons that question stumped me was that I genuinely did not know what I wanted to do when I grew up. I knew that I wanted to study something related to the type of career I imagined and to make the most of my time in college. It wasn’t until my third year of college that I finally found right major and industry for me. Choosing a major takes a lot of thought and self-reflection. If you’re trying to decide on a major, take it from me and ask yourself these questions:
Where do you want to work?
This question is two-fold. First, think about where you physically want to work. Do you prefer an office environment or would you rather work outside day in and day out? You would have a hard time finding a computer systems administrator with an office that lacked a roof, or a pilot that never left the airport. Take a moment and figure out where you want to spend most of your time.
Second, think about what type of industry you want to work in. Do you have a penchant for serving and giving back to others? If so, consider finding a major that lends itself to public service or the common good. Maybe you’re more of a business-savvy student that wants to change the world through innovation. Consider a degree grounded in business or technology.
What does my career require of me?
Gone are the days that you can get a middle-management job from simply graduating college. In the modern work environment, certifications, licenses and specialized degrees is what will set you apart from your peers. Does the major you’re considering prepare you for any professional licensure exams, or do you graduate with certifications in addition to your bachelor’s? Research the industry and take note of what will be required of you to both get a job in the industry, and move up the ladder. Then check the program you’re interested in to see if it meets the criteria above.
What does the future look like?
This is the toughest question on the list to answer, but it is probably the most important factor when deciding on what to study. Yes, you will learn a lot while earning a bachelor’s degree in ice sculpting, but a long-term career might not be promising. Even if there is no market for your interest now, that could change in four short years – do some research. My advice is to read hobbyist magazines, email a leading company in the industry you’re interested in and get their take on the future landscape, or reach out to a professor at a nearby college about their field (Hint-they love to talk).
Deciding on a college major is one of the most important, and sometimes challenging, decisions a student has to make. What type of career do you want? What type of office environment? What are you passionate about? What will make you excited to go to work each day? And then, what major fits those requirements and helps you reach your goals? I can't answer these questions for you, but there are tools like the MyMajors assessment below. Don't be afraid to get additional help if you’re still having a hard time deciding. One of the benefits of taking this assessment is that it does a remarkable job of identifying a particular major and career field that fits your interests and aspirations. What will you discover?