Choosing a major is a crucial decision for your future. Though some students know exactly what they want to study when they enter higher education, others may have more difficulty deciding on the right major. College offers a fantastic opportunity to explore your passions, find new interests and experience different areas of study. Whether you're in the process of applying or you're already in college, this guide can help you make the right decision about your college major.
1. Evaluate Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Take the time to consider your academic strengths and weaknesses. If you've always struggled in math classes, you may not want to pursue a math-heavy field, like accounting. If your least favorite subject in school was always English, then a literature degree probably won't be the best avenue for you. While you can always learn new skills, it's best to be realistic about your strengths and weaknesses.
To evaluate your academic strengths and weaknesses, try:
- Looking at your past grades in each subject.
- Talking with your high school teachers.
- Evaluating your standardized test scores.
- Asking close friends or parents for their input.
Making a chart or list can help you determine your academic strengths. List out your highest grades or scores in each area. For most people, their grades and testing will reveal a difference between certain subjects, even if their scores are all similar. Feel free to break it down to individual assignments — if you always do better on papers in English class and score lower on science quizzes, that's valuable input for your decision.
In addition to academics, you'll also need to evaluate your preferences and study habits. Look at how you learn, what types of classes you enjoy and what assignments excite you. For example, if you have trouble concentrating when reading and prefer to do projects rather than write papers, look at majors that assign less reading and offer more hands-on applications. This information will guide you toward a career where you'll be successful.
2. Explore Your Interests and Passions
After you know your academic and personal strengths, you should consider your passions and interests. Ask yourself, what difference do you want to make in the world? For many students, the extracurriculars they engage in support and nourish their academic strengths. If you've enjoyed your time on mock trial teams, pre-law could make your shortlist of majors. If you like learning how to code with classmates in your free time, a computer science degree would be a great match.
However, you may not always be able to use your extracurriculars to find a career path. For example, if you spent all your time on a sports team, even though you may have excelled, it doesn't give you much insight into choosing a major. In these instances, you may need to spend a little more time exploring your passions and interests — and that's normal.
Though you don't always have a huge range of class choices in high school, you have a lot of freedom when choosing your college classes. Even if you aren't sure about your major, your first year of college is a great time to explore your options. You might be surprised how many people discover a passion for something in college they'd never explored before!
3. Look at the Job Market
The goal of your college major is to land you a job after graduation. If you have a general idea of what areas of study interest you, narrow down a specific major by researching the job market in that field. You can explore job growth trends and typical paths to employment for professionals in that field. In many industries, college internships are becoming essential to landing a job.
Other questions to consider include:
- Do I need additional education or certifications to enter this field?
- What's the average salary for entry-level positions?
- What do the majority of people in this field study in college?
Also, consider why a college education is essential to you. Do you want to attend college to explore knowledge and gain valuable insights into your passions? Do you see a degree as a direct path to future employment? If you research your intended major's job prospects and become distraught by what you see, you can still find ways to succeed in the future. Many students double major or minor in subjects with better job prospects.
However, you may not want to focus solely on projected income and job growth. Picking a career solely on the money you could potentially increase your job satisfaction down the line. Of course, it's always possible to change careers, but consider this point as you look for a major.
4. Ask for Input
Although Socrates advocates to "know thyself,"' it's not always easy to see where our strengths lie on our own. That's why it's a great idea to ask for input when choosing a major. Friends and family can offer a perspective on your strengths and interests, so don't think you have to make this decision all on your own.
School friends and study partners might tell you what academic areas you seem to shine in — perhaps your lab partner notices you always get the right solution, or your friend loves the arguments you make in English class. Parents and guardians can also give you perspective on how you've performed in different areas throughout your life. Feel free to ask your teachers for advice, as well.
5. Remember You Can Change Your Major
While the pressure to pick the right major might be enormous, know that it's not a permanent decision. If you decide the major you've chosen isn't the right fit, you can work with your advisor to alter your degree path and change your major. Don't think you're alone — nearly one-third of college students have changed their majors at least once in their college careers.
Often, if you change early enough in your college career, you can still graduate on time, too.
Be a Difference-Maker — Explore Wingate's Majors
If you're still undecided about your college major, explore Wingate University's academic programs. With 37 majors, 10 pre-professional programs and 40 minors to consider, the probability of discovering your passion here is very high. Additionally, we offer continual guidance and support with both academic and career advisors for every student.
Wingate University's mission to be a difference-maker sets it apart from other universities. Here, you can explore your passion while discovering ways to make a difference in this world through internships, research, study abroad opportunities and service projects.