Considerations for Selecting a College Major

photo_18977_20101109Just when you thought you had made it through all of the tough school-related decisions, life throws another curveball at you: picking a college major. Deciding on a major is a difficult process for young adults that can take months, or even years to accomplish. The New York Times writes, “What’s your major? It’s the defining question for college students — and the cliché that’s launched a thousand friendships and romances. It’s also a question that has become harder for students to answer” (Simon). Understanding that students everywhere are having difficulty claiming a major should bring solace to those who remain undecided.

Surprise Yourself

Undecided students should begin with taking classes in subjects that they are already excited about. However, they should also be open to exploring new passions through attending classes that they never imagined taking! You might not know about your love for analyzing the way the human brain works if you have never studied it before. Go ahead — embrace that psychology course!

The Easy Way Out

If something is easy for you, it probably means that it comes naturally. Being talented in a particular subject does not necessarily mean that you want to spend the rest of your life engulfed in it. While talent can play a part in your interests and projected career path, it should never solely determine a major or career choice.

Find Your Passions

When you are declaring a major, you need to consider the long-term implications of this choice. Rather than immediately declaring a major in that subject that comes easy, try something that you are passionate about, instead! U.S. News states, “After students have had time as high school seniors and college underclassmen to explore various fields of study, it’s likely that they’ve found one that greatly appeals to them. Follow that path, experts say, even if you’re unsure about where it might lead, and what starting salary it might yield. Those factors won’t matter in the long run, advisers say” (Burnsed). Of course, students should direct themselves toward what appeals to them.

Determine Your Goals

Most students want to enter the job market after graduation (Hello, student loans), so picking a major regardless of what salary or career options it may provide can be intimidating. Some experts do not believe it is in a student’s best interest to pick a major yielding an unclear career path. Forbes argues that “you must begin with a vision; a place you want to be four, ten, twenty years down the road, and a service you want to provide to the business community and to society, but make sure that there will be a sustained demand for these services. Then, you must think of the educational degree that will provide you the skills for this career; and the competition, the other people that pursue the same degree at the same time as you” (Mourdoukoutas). This quote seems to argue that the first step toward choosing a degree is to determine where you see yourself, and whether or not this goal is practical and achievable in the long run. Declaring a major should come after this discovery, serving as a portal to this goal.

Make it Count

The key is to find a balance. Pinpoint your goals, but also make sure that you enjoy what you will be doing. According to NBC News, “College students whose majors don’t reflect their interests are less likely to graduate on time and more likely to drop out, said Steve Kappler, ACT assistant vice president and head of postsecondary strategy” (Weston). This article goes on to reveal, “Blindly pursuing a degree solely for financial reasons can backfire if a student washes out because of lack of ability or switches majors, or schools, because of a lack of interest” (Weston). Never pick a career or major because it will lead to a higher paycheck. Do your best to get in touch with your inmost life goals and desires that you can pursue a career within.

Take Your Time

Let relief wash over your sophomore soul as you realize that choosing your college major is not the equivalent of marrying that major. There are no contracts or messy divorces. It is OK if you wait until junior year to declare your major! Understand, however, that delays and mistakes can be costly! Each semester that a student goes undecided is another semester they are paying for, which may not ultimately benefit their degree. NBC News goes on to inform, “Picking the wrong major can be an expensive mistake” (Weston). Sure, change your major in your senior year if you feel strongly about it. Just know that you will be paying for it in years of your life and paychecks from your pocket.

Make Use of Your Advisors!

Their job title is self-explanatory. Advisors are there to advise students as they pursue their degree! When students have concerns and difficulty zeroing in on a major, or they want to know the requirements to gain a particular degree, they should set up a meeting with an advisor in that department. If a student is torn between studying criminal justice and nursing, they should meet with advisors from each department and go over the expectations and requirements for that degree, along with the career paths and job outlook for these options. The Princeton Review claims advisors “know what it takes to tackle certain academic disciplines. Tell them your strengths and your interests. They’ll be able to highlight courses that might excite you as well as classes that are popular with other students” (Princeton Review).

Job Placement Center

We offer students and alumni access to our Job Placement Center. Students with questions regarding career choices should utilize this center while determining their major! If students want to declare a particular major but fear that they will not find a job with their degree, touring our Job Placement Center can help put students at ease, directing them toward career possibilities! Once you pick your path, FNU’s Job Placement Team is committed to assisting our currently enrolled students look for and find employment in their chosen fields of study. We make every effort possible for the graduate to transition from an exceptional university education to a lifetime career!

If You Are Still Unsure

Try out this quiz created by a professor at the University of Nevada to help students determine their strengths, weaknesses, and interests!

In All Reality

Picking out your major in college will take some honest self-analysis and a good amount of time. If you need help or still have questions, be sure to check out the programs that we offer, and contact a Florida National University (FNU) advisor today! As you begin this journey, it is crucial to remember that “choosing a major doesn’t limit you to just one career; choosing a career doesn’t limit you to just one major” (Leonard).

Works Cited

Burnsed, Brian. “5 Ways to Pick the Right College Major.” U.S. News. U.S. News & World Report, 19 Sept. 2011. Web. 02 Apr. 2014.

“Choosing a Major | College Major Selection.” Choosing a Major | College Major Selection. The Princeton Review, n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2014.

Mourdoukoutas, Panos. “How To Choose The Right College Major.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 14 Jan. 2013. Web. 02 Apr. 2014.

Simon, Cecilia Capuzzi. “Major Decisions.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 03 Nov. 2012. Web. 02 Apr. 2014.

Weston, Liz. “Picking the Wrong College Major Can Be an Expensive Error.” NBC News. NBC News, 27 Nov. 2013. Web. 02 Apr. 2014.