Choosing a college major is hard, and deciding on what you actually want to study can seem near impossible.
I get it. Truly.
There are so many different options, schools, potential career paths, and an increasing worry about finding a job after college, that make the entire process pretty overwhelming.
But it’s going to be alright. Climb down from the ledge, put the pint of ice cream away, and take a nice couple of deep breaths. After this article you will be well equipped to pick the major of your dreams. I promise.
How To Choose A Major
Here is a step by step of how to pick a college major:
Read about any available majors online
This needs to be as close to an exhaustive list as possible. Once you’re done with that, you need to find out as much detail as you can about each one.
Do a little research and spend a good amount of time on this step. It is important for you to have a firm grasp on the possibilities out there and what’s possible before you make any kind of information based on no information.
Some good information to research about these jobs would be:
- Average starting income
- What careers you can get with each
- What kind of classes are you going to have to take
- Which schools offer the major
- Are you going to need any secondary schooling to actually matter
Write down your strengths
“But Ken, I’m not good at anything……*sad emoji*”
Cut it out, and stop it.
Everyone is at the very least good at one thing. It doesn’t matter if it seems silly or impractical to you, write it down. The point of this, is for you to put practicality aside for a second and really give thought into what makes you tick and what you enjoy.
Any area of study worth learning about, and ultimately any career worth pursuing and sticking around at, will have to be something that you have the potential to excel at and that you have somewhat of a natural affinity towards.
Write down every professional job in existence
This is similar to the first step, but now we’re heading over to the career department. The goal here is to write down any and every job you’ve ever heard of, or even think might be a possible job. Why do this you ask?
Most of the time, we limit ourselves to what we think is possible, not what can actually be achieved or not in reality. You might discover your perfect job in a field you’ve never even heard of, or it might not even exist yet. So it’s worth giving thought to many different kinds of jobs, to discover where your opportunities may be.
Compare your findings
Literally take out a piece of paper or the closest white board you have right now.
Seriously, go get it. I’ll wait.
Ok great. The object of this step is to visually connect and be able to more easily compare all of the different pieces of information that you’ve just brainstormed. Trying to keep track of all the different options and variables that go into this decision can make your head spin, but when you organize everything neatly into one central location, it will make seeing some actionable patterns much easier.
Make three separate columns, one for potential majors, things you’re good at, and your list of jobs.
Go over the entire list. Spend some time really going over each thought, and mark each entry a 1-10. 1 means that it would literally kill you having to do that thing each and every day. A 10 meaning that you’ve reached the absolute pinnacle of Maslow’s Hierarchy.
This will allow you to put things further into perspective.
Talk To A College Counselor
Your school’s counselor can be a wealth of knowledge when it comes to your future field of study, career paths, and even identifying potential options for school that you had never previously considered.
Every school has a career or advising department whose main job is to advice students on how to get the most out of their secondary school experience. It may seem kind of lame, or like a hassle to ask them for advice, but it can be really beneficial.
- First, they know what courses are required for each major. You might THINK you wanted to be a doctor, until you realized that you had to take two rounds of physics, chemistry, microbiology, and calculus for 3 semesters. Doesn’t sound so fun now does it?
Getting familiar with your potential course load should be a key part of your decision before choosing a major.
- Second, they’ve talked to a million students. They probably know what you’re thinking and feeling long before you can find the words to express it. This basically means that they can take the jumbled mess of mixed emotions and ramblings that you keep floating around in your own mind, and possibly make some sense of things.
That’s why they call them guidance counselors. Let them guide you to collegiate enlightenment.
- Third, they don’t have any expectations or preconceptions about you. This allows them to be completely impartial when giving you direction about your future. No pressure from dad trying to get you to take over the family ice cream shop, no nagging from your cousin frank who wants you to become a salesmen like him, and especially no nonsense from friends who want you to start your own sustainability project in the outskirts of Tokyo and get an experimental entrepreneurial degree.
These people are sort of like a therapist. Objective, confidential (usually), and almost always helpful.
Bonus Tip: Relax.
It’s a proven fact that the average college student switches primary areas of study between 3 and 5 times while going to school.
That means that it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to explore. It’s also okay to not be 100% sure. Now that you’ve got some guidance and spent some time figuring out what the right major for you should be, just go attack it head on.
College should be a time of expanding your mental horizons, discovering new interests and passions, and gaining skills that will make you a valuable asset to society in the future.
Now go crush it.