15 Tips to Choose a College Major You Won’t Have to Change
When you choose a college major, you are making a commitment that can make or break the rest of your college career and send reverberations throughout your adult life. What kind of reverberations those turn out to be depend entirely on the success of your decision-making.
The call that you make will implement a chain of additional decisions to influence the rest of your life. No pressure, right? In the following article, we are going to help you make a decision that you can stick with and never question. Get it right the first time, and there is no end to what you can accomplish.
So strap in and get ready to remember each and every one of these suggestions. Somewhere in there lies your future. Good luck!
1. Flock to What You Have Read
Reading of any kind is a constructive activity that will shed more light on who you are as a person. Reading fiction will naturally get you drawn to certain characters, worlds, and professions while helping you boost your vocabulary. Reading non-fiction gives you the opportunity to pick a topic and do a deep dive on it.
We recommend reading a little of both. It will help you learn how to relate to your world while building valuable life skills.
One word of warning: some people will try to devalue certain types of reading material as “junk.” When you are struggling to develop a reading habit, ignore these people. Anything is better than nothing. Once you get into the practice, you’ll be in a better position to find the content that can help you toward a college major and chosen profession.
2. Think About the People Who Fascinate You
If reading isn’t your thing (and it really should be to at least some extent), then take the opportunity to explore some of the people in your community who can help you see the value of an education and a chosen job path. Make a list of the men and women you really respect.
Can’t find any in your hometown? Think outwardly. List influential people in your region, state, or nation. What is it about them that draws you in? What would be your educational path if you chose to follow in their footsteps? Hint: look up what they did to get where they are and seek to replicate it.
3. Examine Your Past Grade Performances
Having a really difficult time figuring out where you’re supposed to go or what you’re supposed to do? Look at your current grades. Do you see a pattern of wins and losses when comparing to them to previous years?
If there is something you are continually good at, then you should consider taking on a major that is in that particular field. Take this moment to drill deep and figure out what options you might have.
A word of warning here: just because you’re good at something doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a future in it. You need to be as logical as creative when it comes to approaching a major. Ask yourself what the possibilities are of that skill set being useful in the near or distant future.
4. Ask Yourself What You Have Always Wanted to Know
We learn best when we are curious and thirst for knowledge. If there is something that maybe you’re not particularly good at (yet) but you are eager to learn, consider making it your major. Of course, you’ll want to get started with it as soon as you can to make up any lost ground before your major electives begin.
Continually stoking that need for knowledge will ensure that you arrive at a major and a profession you can enjoy. The more you enjoy what you’re doing the better at it you will become!
5. Research Where the Jobs Are
Where do you plan on living? What are the major job needs in those markets? Some people find this a valuable way to choose a college major because they prioritize other things over money and career. Yes, they understand it is important to make a living, but they’re more drawn to recreational opportunities and living somewhere exciting.
While you’re there, you’ll want to do everything in your power to earn a decent living so you can explore all the area has to offer. In this sense, the job becomes a matter of function instead of passion. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this no matter what some will tell you about following your passions.
6. Talk to Your Friends About What They Will Do
Some friends are paying better attention to their college futures than you are. When it comes time to make a decision, you should seek their counsel. Find friends who are the most like you in terms of interest and competency. Ask them what they are going to major in and then determine if it sounds like a course you want to pursue.
A word of warning though: You don’t simply want to go along. That’s not the point of seeking peer guidance. It’s to get you to start asking the same questions or evaluating your life circumstances to see if there are any similarities or anything from which you can learn. Always carve your own path.
7. Do a Job Shadow
Job shadowing is a useful activity that many high schools will make available to their students. The reality is that high schools should make it mandatory because it gives students a taste of what it’s really like to work in certain professions. It also provides useful opportunities for them to have questions answered by someone actually working in the field.
Word of warning here, though: don’t do a job shadow with someone who is unwilling to open up and show you their job, warts and all. You don’t need an idealized version of what a job is like. You need to see it in operation. It’s only a useful practice if the participating professional is willing to offer that glimpse.
8. Visualize Your Future Life
What do you value the most in life? Job? Money? Vacation time? Family time? Where do you want to live?
There are many questions that beget further questions when it comes time to visualize your future, and you should be asking and answering all of them for yourself.
It’s okay if the future you end up with doesn’t resemble the one you envisioned as long as you keep checking in. You want your future to be dynamic and vividly drawn. It’s the only way to reverse-engineer to get to what you need to do to get there!
9. Study Financial Literacy
High schools should be teaching students financial literacy every year as a mandatory course. Unfortunately, that is not the case. It is perhaps the most valuable piece of knowledge you can have, not just in life but also in choosing your major.
If you were able to sit down and look at the top-paying jobs in certain fields and then compare them against the true cost of living, it would offer a hopeful or sometimes sobering reflection of what it means to work in certain fields. This could keep students from choosing hopeless career paths and get them to start taking their college choices more seriously.
High schools might not make you do it, students, but you should do it for yourselves. Buy books from financial gurus and read them like you would a bestselling novel. There are some great financial minds out there who are good at making finances fun. Seek them out and make them a part of your personal learning mission.
10. Take Advantage of High School Career Days
Many high schools offer career days where students can have a chance to meet with professionals at work in their communities. In many cases, they can get firsthand information about what it’s like to work at anything from the local police department to a major corporation.
Teachers, prepare students for these career days by getting them to list and ask valuable questions to shine a light on these professions. Some information could be off-limits due to the nature of the company, but other organizations, like a public works agency for example, are full disclosure so tell your students not to shirk questions of salary, benefits, and job responsibilities.
11. Talk to Your Guidance Counselor
Some environments can be intimidating for introverted students to learn about certain jobs and professions. In these circumstances, guidance counselors can be incredibly valuable for shedding light and helping students understand the appropriate educational path to get to those goals.
A guidance counselor might also be able to arrange for students to meet with certain professionals or to browse literature and watch videos that provide further clarity.
12. Read Magazines Like
There are many entertaining, well-written magazines with expert photography and an accessible way of shining light on professional environments. Some of the best include Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Fortune.
If you have a hard time affording these magazines, most are available for free at your local library. You also might be able to get some for free through things like Prime Reading if you are an Amazon Prime member. Consider getting a subscription to one or two of these, and you’ll see a lot of cool ideas that might lead you on the path you were meant to go.
13. Start Your Own Business
We know running a business isn’t something that everyone can do, but you should at least try to start one. As a high school student, jobs like lawn mowing can help you understand valuable life skills like setting prices, collecting payments, providing customer service, and scheduling for success.
Lawn care not your thing? Don’t sweat it too much! The Internet has made it possible to apply for thousands of different jobs or gigs that you can do from the comfort of your own computer. That doesn’t mean all of them will be easy or pay well, but they will get you to start thinking about personal branding and what you want the world to think of when they think about you.
14. Look Up Cool Job Ideas Online
Doing basic Google searches like “coolest jobs in the world” or “coolest jobs in the US” or any preferred choice of adjective to describe “jobs” will spit out thousands of search results with list after list of awesome-sounding job titles. Skim the headlines until you find one that catches your eye.
Then, read what the best of the best have had to do to get those jobs. You’ll likely find a mix of education, luck, working jobs that seemingly had nothing to do with where they ended up, etc.
Word of warning: luck is not a good basis to pick a major. Always look for the outliers, who are those people whose success is almost impossible to replicate, at least in the exact way. They likely will not be good examples for choosing a college major because there was too much chance involved in where they ended up.
At the same time, that doesn’t mean chance works only for some. It can still work in your favor, but you want to give yourself the best possible opportunity in life through your college major. If Lady Luck wants to then come and find you, accept her when she gets there. Until then, make logical choices!
15. Create a Fictitious Resume
If you’ve done the work we’ve listed above, then you should have some idea of the work experience, education, and skills needed to succeed in a chosen profession. Now pretend that you have just gotten the job of your dreams. What was it about your resume that made employers unable to refuse you?
Lay it all out on paper. Create a fictitious resume for yourself that has the credentials no employer could possibly refuse. If you do this right, a clear picture of the classes you were meant to take should start to emerge.
Choose a College Major and Stick With It
Hopefully by now, you are ready to choose a college major. It’s not always easy to stick with the major you’ve chosen, but following the advice presented here will give you the best possible chance at choosing wisely.
[Featured Image by CollegeXpress]