A guide on how to make one of the hardest decisions in life
Finding out what you want to major in college is not just a hard decision: it is one of the most difficult choices you will ever have to make. The main reason for this is its impact on your future! Choosing the wrong major will deter you from your path in life and it will lead to obstacles that won’t be easy to overcome later. I think we all can acknowledge the fact that being a teenager AND making important long-term decisions is not a good combination. That is why we have decided to offer you a short yet very helpful guide on what factors you should consider before deciding on your major.
The first thing you need to ask yourself is not “which major I should choose”; instead a more effective question would be: “which major would me right for ME.”
- Start by considering your abilities, even in a very broad sense. What are you skilled/able to do? Understanding what areas you have skills in and which areas could use work is a great way to start the elimination process when choosing a university major. Although, you should also keep in mind that university is a place to learn and develop, so you shouldn’t simply discard every field in which you aren’t so skilled at yet.
- Don’t forget to prioritize the things you are passionate about. Your interests are a fine way of determining which major to choose in college. I mean, if you like doing something, why not get paid for it, right? But, interests change over time, especially in your late teen years and early 20s. Passions, on the other hand, are not only areas of deep interest, but they also incorporate your values and abilities into something that becomes a burning, lifelong desire.
- Now that you identified your passion, leave the idealistic way of thinking aside for a minute. Try to answer another question: is your passion employable? In other words, will you be able to easily and readily find employment in a related field after you earn the degree? The best way to avoid this would be to major on something broad, rather than something super niche.
- Will this field still be relevant years from now? With the rapid technological changes happening in the world currently, it is important to try to figure out which jobs are likely to disappear in the future. Artificial intelligence and automation are changing the game right now, and employment staples such as accounting are no longer a safe bet.
- I know this is a hard pill to swallow, but you need to keep in mind the financial outcome you hope to achieve with your major. Will your field of interest and passion (which will likely also be relevant in the future) pay the bills?Check out this link: https://cew.georgetown.edu/cew-reports/valueofcollegemajors/ to see specific reports on how much value each major has in terms of earnings after graduation in each U.S. state.
- Don’t pressure yourself too much! Allowing time for yourself will raise the chances of you making the right decision. No good comes from rushing and stressing – you might very well end up just going with a mediocre choice in order to stop the pressure. Even if you are entering university, most schools and their advisors recommend that you wait before declaring a major. In the U.S., it is common to leave the declaration of your intended major until the end of your sophomore year. If you are nearing that sophomore year’s end and are still undecided as to what you’d like to major in, don’t worry. You’re not the first, and you surely won’t be the last. Consider taking a semester off to find yourself, or perhaps even a gap year sabbatical, traveling around the world or working full time. This can really put things in perspective for you.
- Also, make sure to not fall into the trap of myths or things you often hear people who haven’t done proper research say. For example, I am pretty sure that you’ve heard that STEM always pays big. That’s a myth! It’s true that computer science and engineering top all the pay rankings, but salaries within specific majors vary greatly. Even English or history graduates who make just above the median lifetime earnings for their major do pretty well when compared to typical graduates in business or a STEM field.
- Take the median lifetime earnings of business majors, the most popular undergraduate degree. The typical graduate earns $2.86 million over a lifetime. When you put business graduates side by side with those who graduated with what are considered low-paying majors, you’ll see that those who are slightly above the median salary in their fields are not that far behind the business grads.
- Check this amazing article out by The New York Times to break some other myths you might have. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/03/education/edlife/choosing-a-college-major.html
- After all this deep analytical thinking, would you like to try another fun way of choosing a major? Try taking a personality test! A popular one to take is the Myers & Briggs MBTI Personality Type Test, which separates people into 16 psychological types. These often are a great way to figure out if a particular university major, minor, or career choice is right for you. After taking the test and getting the results, check what career would be best for your personality type here: https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/jobs-for-myers-briggs-personality-type.
If even after considering all the steps offered in this article you are still having doubts on what you career path you want to follow and which major to choose – don’t despair yet. We are here to help! Genie Consulting would be more than happy to give you all the information and advice you need in order for you to make the best choice that will ensure you a successful and fulfilling future. Book an appointment now, and expect all the worries and stress to disappear!