What's Your Major
Deciding Your Path for College
If you’re feeling undecided, do not worry. “Undecided" or "Undeclared” is actually the most popular answer for most college students, and over half of students change their major at least once. Here are some great points to consider when making this important choice.
Do you need to make the decision now?
Some schools require you to declare a major upon application, while many only require a declaration before graduating. Learn the requirements for the schools you are considering.
It is important to consider some of the advantages of choosing a major sooner. For some schools of study, mapping out your plan as soon as possible could help avoid extra years to finish your undergraduate coursework. However, four year undergraduate universities in the U.S. require about two years' worth of General Education courses, buying you some time for finding what's right. There are plenty of choices for electives as well, so you have the opportunity to do some first-hand research.
BMI FCU Tip: Find interesting courses that will double as meeting General Education course requirements. If, at the end of the course, it doesn't interest you for a long-term degree or career option, you've at least accomplished one more General Education course toward your degree.
What majors are you considering and why?
Do a little more research. Which majors are required for the field you like or the job you want? Social media is your friend in finding people who work in the industry, so try LinkedIn or Reddit. Ask your family or friends if they know anyone in this field. Visit your campus advisors to connect you with people in different departments. Your school orientation will have several resources as well. There is no wrong choice, but much like your finances, planning ahead will leave you well positioned for the future.
BMI FCU Tip: Write down a list of your dream jobs. Then learn a little about each of them:
- What degree is required for each?
- Are subsequent degrees required?
- Do any of these jobs have a common degree or means of study?
- What is the average salary?
- Are these jobs predicted to be around in ten years? For example: If the degree is in technology or health care, the answer is likely yes. If you'd like to be a newspaper journalist, you may want to make sure you learn some digital skills along the way.
- Are you interested in this area of study, or do you feel obligated by money or other pressures?
Is there more than one way to accomplish your goal?
While any type of college degree will put your resume above a non-graduate, some degrees can be highly lucrative. Unless your area of interest is narrow and requires highly specialized training, you have a few options. There are ways to get the most out of your degree, even before you are certain about your career path.
BMI FCU Tip: There are several areas of study that allow for some post-graduate career cross over. These are among the most versatile and lucrative college majors:
- Computer Science or Information Technology
- Communications, Marketing, or Journalism
- Government, Political Science, or Law
- Business or Economics
- Nursing or Medical Studies
- Psychology or Sociology
Is my college known for this field?
This is an important question that requires a little more research - are you sensing a theme yet? Most universities will leave you in good hands with any of the programs listed above. However, some schools are known for excellence in certain areas of study. In Ohio, for example, medical degrees and agricultural studies are prominent. Some schools - even lesser known schools - will have excellent programs in your desired area of study. Adversely, some schools that are otherwise reputable, might have less developed programs. Knowing this can help if you are deciding between schools.
BMI FCU Tip: When researching areas of study, focus on how "developed" the program is. It doesn't need to have all of the following, but it is important that a college values your department enough for you to get the most out of your degree. College is no small investment, so spend your money, your time, and your efforts wisely.
- Is there a variety of course choices?
- Does the program have several professors, and do they have decent resumes?
- Does the program engage in student advancement opportunities? I.e. Are there work-studies, apprenticeships, clubs, or extra-curriculars intended for the program? For example: a political science program might have a trip to Washington DC, or a pre-law department might have a great debate team.
- What is the graduate success rate for this department? While some degrees are harder than others, colleges want students to succeed, so a higher graduation rate is ideal.
Relax, research, repeat...
Declaring a major does not have to be a difficult or frightening task. Allow yourself the time and the positive attitude to consider your options. The average American changes their career path entirely 4 to 5 times in their lifetime. Do not panic. Be honest with yourself, do your research, and work hard. It is, after all, your future.
Head back to our School Resource Center for additional tips and tools.