So let’s say that you’re a freshman at your university, straight out of high school, and feeling overwhelmed by the strange new world that is college. You have a couple interests in mind, possible career choices, but you don’t exactly know what you want to do for the rest of your life. Many times, the stress of having to choose a major can lead a person to choose the wrong one, wasting time and money taking classes they don’t need. To avoid making a mistake in choosing your major, here are a couple of things to consider:
“What’s my personality like? Am I more introverted, extroverted, analytical, ambitious, etc?”
This question is very, very, very important (so important that I had to say it three times!). Everybody’s personality is different, and some personalities thrive in certain professions more than others. For example, an outgoing person who loves to work with people will probably not enjoy working in a lab or sitting in a cubicle all day. However, a more introverted person who enjoys working alone will likely do well in this environment.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that your personality should completely define where you should and shouldn’t work. It’s always good to challenge yourself in life, and if that means that you want to overcome your shyness and work in a profession that involves face-to-face interactions all day, go for it! Just make sure to consider certain aspects of your personality when deciding on the major that will help you achieve your career goals.
“Which majors are in demand right now or in the near future?”
If you’re looking to be in college for a short time (two to four years) and are ready to start working as soon as you graduate, you should probably consider a for a high-demand career. There are certain majors in STEM fields, like science and engineering, that tend to require a more schooling than an associate’s or bachelor’s degree to land a lucrative job. If you’re looking to find a good-paying job right after college, consider going for an associate’s degree in healthcare or computer programming. These jobs are always in demand, and will most likely guarantee a steady paycheck shortly after graduating.
One thing to think about with these “in-demand” careers is that less education and training will usually result in less pay than other careers that have more education requirements. But you can get started in your chosen career field and continue with your education. This brings us to the next question:
“How much money would I like to be making in the next 10-15 years? What sort of lifestyle would I like to have?”
I know, I know, you shouldn’t choose your major based on how much money it could earn you in the future. However, I do think that it’s something to consider in the decision-making process. I know that we’d all like to live like the rich and famous, but are we all willing to work for it? Doctors can easily make six figures a year, and they’ve worked very hard to get to that place in their lives.
For example, a doctor will need to have a bachelor’s degree with a major in anything that will require them to take certain science courses (like biology or chemistry), then take the MCAT (a notoriously difficult exam), then apply to medical schools, then attend medical school for four years, then attend a residency program that will last between 2-3 years, and then they can finally work as physicians. See why they’re making so much? Majors that are almost certain to result in a high-paying career will usually require a lot of work - and money - from the student. If you’re willing to work hard and understand that there is the (very likely) possibility that you’ll have student loans to pay after graduation, then go for a major that will take you longer than four years to complete! Just do it at your own risk.
“What are the things that truly make me happy? What’s my passion?”
I’ve left the most important question for last. I like to think of this as the most important consideration because it’s really the only one that you can decide. People like to add their input as to what we should do with our lives, and some of it may truly be helpful. But a lot of times, input from others can actually confuse us even more if we’re unsure of which path to take in college. This is why you need to look deep into your mind and soul and think about what you like to do. Do you like to volunteer? Do you like to be creative? Do you love meeting new people and learning about their stories? Often times, this consideration can be the one to help you decide which major to declare. Do what you love, and work with the things that interest you. This way, you’ll never be that person who says, “I hate my job.”