Did you know that over 60%1 of college graduates would go back and change their majors if they could? Changing majors can be very costly and since attending university requires a substantial investment of time and money, you want to get this choice right. In turn, you'll set yourself up for a fulfilling future career. But not many people talk about how to choose a major in college.
You may already know some of the most popular majors in college, but that doesn't necessarily mean those are the best fields for you. So, how can you choose the right major for you? Keep in mind that this will vary from student-to-student and you should always go for a particular major or career field that makes sense to you. This article will show you how to do just that.
7 Tips on How to Choose A College Major
Here are seven tips on how to choose a major:
- Identify your interests
- Assess your strengths and weaknesses
- Define your career goals
- Consider the salary potential
- Evaluate the job market
- Consult with an academic advisor, career advisor, or guidance counselor
- Speak with working professionals
By following these steps, you’ll ensure that you get the best return on your investment for your college education, not only financially, but personally and professionally as well!
Step #1 Identify Your Interests
Start by asking yourself what you're most interested in. Even if you're still doing career exploration and aren't sure what your dream job is, you probably have a history of hobbies that shed light on your interests.
Maybe you loved reading as a kid or exemplified an entrepreneurial spirit with your childhood lemonade stands. Or maybe you lived and breathed music throughout your grade school years. By developing an awareness of your interests, you'll discover that some majors are a more natural fit than others, and so it’s easier to pick a potential major from there.
From there, you can use your freshman year to explore these interests and a few introductory courses in a classroom setting. Most colleges don't require you to declare your major until your second year, so you have time to try on different areas of study for size.
Step #2 Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Sometimes what you enjoy doing and what you excel at are slightly different things. If you want to enjoy a successful career after graduation, try to find a subject that you’re both interested in and possess a natural aptitude for.
If you’re not sure about your strengths, there are a few useful tests that can give you some insight:
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Test – Many businesses and schools use the MBTI to assess professional aptitude. This test takes into account your personality, preferences, and strengths, and then provides you with a helpful list of potential job opportunities.
- Truity Job Aptitude Test – This test uses the Holland Code and Big Five Personality framework to match your personality and interests with an ideal career profile.
While you shouldn’t outsource your entire major decision to an online test, using one can help you gain more clarity. These tests can also introduce you to potential career options you hadn't considered before.
Step #3 Define Your Career Goals
Even though many people will encourage you to “follow your passion,” being passionate isn’t the only relevant factor to a fulfilling career.
Some other things to consider are:
- Work-life balance
- Workplace environment
- Career growth opportunities
- Scheduling flexibility
- Job stability
When you factor in these elements, you may have a change of heart about your chosen major. For instance, even if you are passionate about philosophy, the underwhelming job stability might nudge you in a different direction.
Step #4 Consider the Salary Potential
Money isn’t everything, but it’s certainly a relevant factor to consider when you choose your major. After all, the point of going to college is to prepare yourself for your future career, so you can earn a living one day.
Some majors set you up for more lucrative professions than others. According to Glassdoor, the highest-paying college majors are2:
Before you commit to a particular major, review the associated starting salaries. While you can enjoy a profitable career path with most majors, some put you on a faster track to financial success.
Step #5 Evaluate the Job Market
In addition to salary potential, you also want to check out the job market for your chosen profession. Some job markets are taking off, whereas others are dwindling into oblivion.
Review job boards, recruitment companies, and other sources for the latest job market trends in the areas of your interests.
By choosing a specific major that propels you into a thriving job market with a number of career opportunities, your future self will thank you for it.
Step #6 Consult With Your Academic Advisor or Guidance Counselor
Academic advisors are there to help you choose your major. They have extensive experience helping students make this critical decision.
In turn, most academic advisors have a knack for hearing students’ interests and career goals and then matching them with a suitable major.
They can also connect you with alumni who are currently working in your prospective profession.
Step #7 Speak With Working Professionals
Finally, don't be afraid to reach out to professionals who have your dream job or career goal. Ask them about their experience:
- “What do you like about your job?”
- “What are the challenges?”
- “Would you choose a different path if you could? “
By getting the nitty-gritty details about a profession, you can see if it’s truly what you want for your future. In turn, you'll make a more informed decision about your major.
Step #8 Earn Your Degree with Alliant
If you’re ready to get your degree underway, check out the undergraduate and graduate degree programs at Alliant International University.
Alliant's various schools provide hands-on experience. You can learn from reputable experts, benefit from their real-world experience, and gain knowledge as you move to a meaningful career or pursue further education.
Can I Change My Major?
Even if you go through all these steps, you could still have a change of heart during your college career. Not to worry! A number of all college students experience changing majors at least once, with many shifting gears 3 or 4 times before they settle on one that sticks.
As long as you keep these factors in mind, you'll end up graduating with a valuable degree that can support you in your professional endeavors and career goal.
Keep in mind that choosing a major is difficult. If you feel like switching majors, then do it. Hopefully if you seek advice from a career counselor and do your own research, you'll have a better idea of the different job opportunities and career options available when starting off as a college student.
The professors at Alliant are respected experts in their field. They’ll prepare you for the real world, so you can succeed post-graduation. Alliant also offers you the chance to earn your degree online or in person at one of our California campuses.
To learn more, visit Alliant’s website today!
Already have your bachelors? Learn about one of our master’s programs in California.
- Best Colleges. New Survey Finds Most College Grads Would Change Majors. https://www.bestcolleges.com/blog/college-graduate-majors-survey/. Accessed December 28, 2021
- Glassdoor. 50 Highest Paying College Majors. https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/50-highest-paying-college-majors/ Accessed December 28, 2021