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How to choose a major

Experts say students should consider their passion, opportunities and potential earnings when choosing a college major.

What career should I choose? What should I major in? What degree will I be happy with 10, 20, or 50 years from now?

All major decisions (see what I did there). You need to pick a major your future self will thank you for! Let us walk you through some tips that should make answering that terrifying “how to choose a major” question a bit easier.

This guide on choosing a college major will show you:

1.What is a college major and why choosing the right one is important.

2. How to choose a major that is right for you and your future career path.

3. How to figure out what you want to major in during your university studies.


1. Pick a major based on abilities

Abilities are what you are able to do, generally speaking. Understanding what areas you have skills in and which areas could use work is a great way to start the elimination process when choosing a university major.

However, don’t discount the fields where you lack ability just yet; you’ll be able to build those up more during your studies – it is a place to learn, after all.


2. Pick a major based on values

Choosing a major based on your core beliefs will normally lead to work that is more rewarding and encouraging.

However, don’t look too hard at your values when choosing a major, either. University is a time of experimentation and self-discovery, and most people solidify their values during their college years.


3. Pick a major based on interests

Your interests are a fine way of determining which major to choose in college. I mean, if you like doing something, why not get paid for it, right?

Just remember that, as with your values we previously mentioned, your interests may change over time. The years of university make current interests more volatile than the years before and after it.


4. Pick a major based on passions

At first glance, your passions seem just like interest areas, only stronger. But this is quite an understatement. Passions are areas of deep interest, sure, but they also incorporate your values and abilities into something that becomes a burning, lifelong desire.

Following your passions, whatever they may be, is one of the best ways to choose a major, and it generally has the least second-guessing later on. However, as with your interests, passions may be defined later on, even after university is over.


5. Will you still enjoy it years from now?

You have interests and passions and these ideas that you value. But what’s to stop you from switching positions or changing your mind? Who’s to say how you’ll feel even 10 years from now – not to mention 20 or 30 years from now?

If you’re not so sure how to answer this question, consider something more general or broad in scope – perhaps Literature instead of majoring in Appalachian Literature of the 1940s.

6. Is it employable?

In other words, will you be able to easily and readily find employment in a related field after you earn the degree? Avoid the possible discouragement from employment rejection later on by considering a broader field of study rather than something super niche.


7. Will it be around later in life?

We live in a time of unrelenting technological progress and innovation. Artificial intelligence and automation are changing the game right now, and it’ll only be more so in the future.

You might have answered that, yes, it is employable, but will it stay that way for decades to come? Employment staples such as accounting are no longer a safe bet.


8. Will it pay?

You might be the most adamant while saying that money doesn’t rank high in your decision-making process when deciding which major to pick. But let’s be honest – it does matters

Take a look at this graphic depicting the career earnings projections of graduates in different fields of study.

At less selective schools, unfortunately, there are many more students pursuing career-based majors, as there isn’t such a strong alumni network or as many professional contacts in each field. Elite schools’ students are also likelier to continue on to graduate studies, giving them more time to hone in on the major that’s right for them.


But don’t let this dishearten you. The great thing about the larger, more-inclusive schools is the sheer volume of courses and certificates offered. As a young adult still looking for your way, this is the ideal sandbox to flirt with different areas of study until you narrow in on the right one.


Once you’ve filtered schools down to the one or few that sound the best for you, take a look at their list of under graduate programs and majors to determine which specific program suits you.


August 23, 2022

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