Written by Chris Hernandez
With college in your near future, you may be thinking about what you want to major in. This comes along with knowing the careers associated with your selected major. It is important to remember that you may hold more than one job throughout your professional career and that many jobs are open to hiring people from different areas of study. This should give you some reassurance that there is no such thing as a ‘wrong major,’ which will hopefully take some of the pressure off of making such a big life decision.
Exploring different majors is an exciting journey of self-discovery as you consider what course of study best suits your goals. When choosing a major, consider the following:
Have you already found your passion? Sometimes, this is obvious, but more often than not, you will have no idea what you want to dedicate your life to. Another way to help you narrow down your major is to think about which subjects you have enjoyed. For example, if you loved geometry and have performed well in STEM subjects, you could be an architect, surveyor, or graphic designer.
If you are unsure what you are interested in, find other ways to discover what makes you happy. While majors can be easier to decide if you already have an idea of what you want your career to be, not every major corresponds directly to a class, and not every job corresponds directly to a major.
Choosing a major aligned with your interests helps guarantee you won’t lose interest down the line, whether it be halfway through your degree or years after graduating and working in that industry.
Do you have any special skills that would translate well in the workplace?
When considering your skills, it is important to take note of the multiple types of intelligence: musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and so on. Knowing which type of intelligence you possess may help you choose a career that will put your skills to use while helping you grow. For example, if you have interpersonal intelligence, you may find that you feel restricted working in a closed-off cubicle with little interaction among coworkers.
Reflecting on specific skills, types of intelligence, and learning styles can help you to choose a major you are likely to stick to and succeed in.
Maybe you know that you do not want a bachelor’s degree, but instead want to focus on a trade career like chef, electrician, mechanic, or physical therapist.
To answer this question, finish the sentence: “In ten years, I will be…”
Set future goals for yourself to help pin down what you’d like to accomplish in life.
Find out what success means to you: is it monetary or personal fulfillment? Not everyone has clear goals, but most people have an idea of what they want to be or have in the future. Keep your list and look back at it in a year, have your goals changed? College brings new life experiences that could very well influence your decision and change your plans. That’s okay! About a third of college students change their major at least once. It is better to find out you prefer to go another route in college than after graduating because it will be a lot harder for you to either change careers or go back to school at that point.
Once you have established your long-term career goals, you can work backward from there. If your dream is to be a lawyer, you may begin with a double major in English and political science before moving on to grad school.
This consideration is sometimes the key to uncovering your ideal major or career. Picture yourself in the work environment: can you see where you are? If you are able to imagine that, it can go a long way in helping you choose a fulfilling course of study.
To narrow down your ideal work environment, some questions you may ask yourself include:
Even if you don’t know exactly what you’ll be doing in the future, but you know you want to work in an office in a skyscraper, you may find that business and marketing majors are your next steps.
Though this may seem like the most important factor to consider, it is last on the list for a reason. Most careers pay enough money to support an individual or family, making salary a non-essential consideration when deciding majors. Also, you will likely work in a sector related to your major for the rest of your life, so it is important to choose something you like for reasons other than money.
On certain occasions, the cost of education can be restrictive for certain careers. In these cases, balancing out salary requirements against education and living expenses is a practical necessity.
Knowing what career path will bring you happiness and fulfillment is crucial when considering your major. We hope that these 5 self-reflection questions have helped you to narrow down your choices, but if you’re still unsure you can always apply as undecided. College is a period categorized by self-discovery and growth, so you can use the time you take to finish general requirements to find your interest and declare your major.