What Major is Right for Me?
When it comes to choosing a major, everybody seems to have a different opinion. The main point of contention seems to revolve around whether a major should be chosen keeping potential careers in mind or whether a career should be thought of depending on your choice of major.
Truth be told, neither can be totally relied upon. There are innumerable graduates who will testify to the fact that their choice of career had little to do with their major and the other way around as well.
The crucial point is assessing what is right for you. If you're getting a degree to make yourself employment-ready, it would be better to choose a major that will help you get into the industry. If, however, your intention is to do something that you enjoy in college, you need not be overly conscious about your career options.
Either way, your major does not determine your life. At best, it's just a starting point to the rest of your career.
Five Steps to Help You Choose Your Major
Step 1: Assess yourself
This one would seem fairly simple and obvious. We're not talking about bouts of introspection. We're talking about evaluating yourself methodically and objectively.
Consider the courses in which you've performed well and decide which major they've prepared you for. Make use of self assessment tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Strong Interest Inventory (SII) test. Write down your findings.
Find out what's most important to you. Are you more interested in achieving job satisfaction or a good salary? Often, you may find that while you do want to earn a good salary, your natural inclinations attract you towards the non-profit sector. It's crucial to eventually strike a balance between your values and needs.
Step 2: Narrow your options
Go through the list of majors that your college offers and eliminate those that you're definitely not interested in. Evaluate the criteria and admission requirements and then eliminate all those that you do not qualify for. Now, you're ready for a preliminary round of research.
Step 3: Research - the Preliminary Round
Research popular websites like Onet Online and the Occupational Handbookto find out what careers you can pursue with the majors that you are considering. Find out how the job outlook has been for the past few years.
You could also look at a few academic journals and trade publications to find out what exactly your major would prepare you for and if you have the required skill sets. Academic conferences are also excellent options for finding out more about your potential majors.
Weigh the pros and cons and eliminate all those majors that do not fit your skills and interests. Also visit Online Degree Perceptionsif you are interested in taking an online course or attending a distance learning facility.
Step 4: Research - Look for Insights
Talk to department advisers and other faculty in the major that you're considering. Apart from being a wealth of information, they can give you more insight and help you clarify your goals. If your college offers career counseling, fix an appointment with a career counselor and share with him/her your objectives for considering a major. A career counselor can help you see things from a different perspective and consider options that you previously hadn't.
Some colleges conduct information sessions of 30 to 60 minutes periodically. Attending one of these can give you a peek into all kinds of inside information, how to apply and graduate, how to conduct meaningful research, potential internship and career opportunities. It is also an excellent opportunity to network with other students who're already in the major, department advisers and faculty.
Step 5: Time to Act!
Once you've narrowed down your options to about two or three, it's time for some action. Get a feel of the major either by sitting in on a class or attending an introductory course.
If your objective in choosing a particular major is a good job, you should seriously consider finding out more about the careers that the major will prepare you for. Conduct informational interviews with people who're already working in the career and look for job shadowing and internship opportunities.
Remember that choosing the right major is only the first step to the lifelong journey that your career is bound to be. And while getting the first step right can definitely help you finish well, it is not a guarantee to a bright future. There are many other choices along the way that you'll be called to make. Ultimately, a major cannot make or break your career or your life, only you can!