How To Choose Your Major (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Jan. 6, 2021

Find a Job You Really Want In

Venturing out into the world can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. This is especially true if you are in the beginning phases of your professional life. One of the best ways to approach any situation is to prepare.

When you first arrive at an educational institution, it is an entirely new experience full of many different opportunities. Even though you should be open to new and diverse possibilities, you also have to create a plan for what you want to do once you complete your degree. This begins by choosing the right major.

To begin your educational career, you will need to choose your major as early as possible. Determining your major will help you decide which is the correct path for you in your career. It will not only help you pick the classes that you will love – it will help you reach your goals a lot faster.

This article will help you understand why choosing the right major will help you accomplish many things during your educational and professional career.

Why Choosing the Right Major Is Important

If you choose to pursue the educational route, you will need to consider what your endgame is. Keep in mind that there is no pressure to rush your decision – however, the earlier you make this choice, the quicker you will be on the road to success.

It is essential to pick courses that will cater to your desired career path. For example, if you are interested in becoming a medical doctor, you will need to take science classes. Majoring in Chemistry, Biology or Pre-Med, can help you in your pursuit of a medical career.

Some careers will require you to complete a specific degree or license. By picking the right major, you increase your chances to land your dream job.

What You Should Know Before Choosing Your Major

Before jumping in and choosing a major, you will need to keep a few things in mind. Picking a major is a big step, and it is something that will steer the choices you make throughout your academic career.

There are many different reasons why a person chooses a particular major. Some people know precisely what they want to do for the rest of their lives, while others are still trying to figure out exactly what they want to do, so they pick their major later in their educational careers.

Here is a list of things you might want to consider before declaring your major:

  1. Are you passionate about the major you are choosing? Ideally, you will want to choose a major that you are passionate about. Before declaring a major, make sure that you are pursuing it out of your own volition.

    Believe it or not, many people are pressured into choosing a major they do not want by their friends and family. Loved ones will at times insist you pick something that will ensure that you have a stable paycheck. The problem with this is that many times they do not take your feelings or passions into account.

    Though it might be admirable to follow one’s passion, you will need to consider if that is something you will want to do for the rest of your life. Now, this does not mean that the career path you choose will not guarantee you a steady paycheck.

    Sometimes passions wane or even change, and you are left with a career you no longer wish to pursue. It might just take a little bit more work than others.

    At the end of the day, you will need to be comfortable with your choice.

  2. Figure out what you are good at. Sometimes picking a major can be as simple as figuring out what your skills are. For example, if you are good at listening to people and love giving advice, perhaps a psychology career might be the best suited for you.

    These are things that you can cover with a career advisor. Remember the old saying, “do something you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” Finding something that fuels your passion and offers you stability will give you the confidence you will need to get far in life.

  3. What will your salary be? Before picking a major, create a financial pro and con list to see which is the right path for you. Sometimes you might be put in a position where you might have to choose between financial security and pursuing your passion.

    There is nothing wrong with choosing a career that will help you pay the bills. However, keep in mind that you do not always have to make this choice. There might be a way where you can both have financial success while still having a way to pursue your dreams.

  4. Where are you going to study? Location is another thing you will need to consider. Perhaps the institution you are interested in does not have the major you are enthusiastic about. Are you willing to forgo your ideal institution to follow your dream career or vice versa?

    You might have to consider relocation if you have chosen a very limited major, like Blacksmithing, as there might be only a handful of institutions that offer this degree. Ensure that when you are researching an institution, you find every college or university that offers your major and create a list that shows you the benefits of each place and how it will advance your academic career.

  5. How much will this cost and how will you pay for it? When choosing a major, you need to factor in your studies’ overall cost and how you are going to pay for them. Knowing this will also help you ultimately determine whether or not you will be able to relocate for your studies or if you will need to find an institution closer to home. Tuition can range from $5,000 to $50,000 per year.

    Typically, should you choose to study out of state, you might run into higher tuition until you become a state’s legal resident. Usually, this means living in the state for six months or longer, changing your mailing address, working for an extended period, etc.

    There are many things you will need to take into account when looking for a payment alternative. Having to work during your college years takes a lot of balance and discipline. Try looking for a work-study program that might help you. You might also try applying for a grant or a scholarship program to help you cover the cost of your studies.

  6. What will the workflow be like? It is important to understand what you will be getting yourself into. Before choosing a major, remember to research every aspect of the career you are applying to. Many newcomers make the mistake of assuming that the career path they have chosen to do for the rest of their lives is a simple task. They believe it is something that will not take too much of their time.

    Take a teacher, for example. Many think that this is a career that will not be as time-consuming and have summer and winters off. When the truth is, this career takes a significant amount of time, energy, and sacrifice. Make sure that when you choose a major, it is something you can feel comfortable with and not overworked.

  7. What are your career goals? Ultimately you will need to ask yourself what your goals are for the future. Some careers might require you to have more than a four-year degree. The field of medicine, for example, will have you complete a bachelor’s degree and a medical degree. If this is the case, you will also need to find the right approach to make it happen.

  8. Get advice from someone in the field you are interested in or a career advisor. Sometimes when you are unsure of what you want to do, the best thing is to ask someone who has gone through it before.

    Asking someone who has gone through this process before might help clarify any doubts you might have. A career adviser is a person that can help you choose the correct courses you will need to reach your goals successfully.

  9. What if you cannot decide on a major right now? One of the most vital things you should know is that there is nothing wrong with beginning your academic career without having declared a major.

    In the end, your college years are a time where you will get to know yourself and discover things you never knew. If you are unsure of what you want to do for the rest of your life, try taking a few courses in the things you are interested in. Who knows, it might be in one of these classes that you find something you are passionate about.

  10. You can always change your major. Nothing is written in stone if you have begun your studies and have later realized this is not what you want to do – you can always change your major. If and when you decide to make the change, make sure that your courses are transferable to your new major. That way, you can ensure you keep all the courses you need to graduate as quickly as possible.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a major can be a difficult step when you are first venturing out into the world. It’s not something you need to rush into. Take the time to try and figure out what you enjoy doing and whether you will want to do it for the rest of your life.

Remember, you can always change your mind. There is no reason you should put yourself through years of studying and working if it is not something you are comfortable with.

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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Topics: Education, Guides