How To Go About Choosing College Major

Choosing college major is the first step to take before deciding where to go for college. Choosing the right major can do wonders for your life and save you years of effort and propel you to success. The best college major is one where you are able to succeed tremendously even with little to moderate effort. This will motivate you to achieve even more as you will start to see positive results from your efforts quickly. When you are making rapid progress in college with a particular major, it also means that it is the right fit for your interests and innate abilities.

Occasionally some of us get into the wrong college major either accidentally, due to external pressure or due to misinformation. So it is good to have a clear step-by-step approach as I’ve presented below.

What Excites You?

Any task or learning that brings you joy could shed light on a suitable college major. Motivation about a particular field or major is a good sign of success in that field. Think about all the times in your childhood when you did very well at something, either in school or in other activities in your community or elsewhere. Perhaps you did well in sports, or you might be good in arts or science or music or theater. Or were you an all-rounder who has been good at almost everything? If so, in which of the activities did you perform the best?

Are you able to build genuine relationships with new people? Do you have leadership qualities? If so, a business major might be something to consider. Were you very popular during your school years? If so, what was the reason for the popularity? If you are good at building great perceptions or maintaining relationships with a large network of people, perhaps political science is a field to consider.

Best Bang for the Buck

A college major that is a good fit for your personality type, strengths and interests can enable much greater success for you. Going over your previous school experience will definitely shed some light in this area. It is also good to combine this with a more scientific approach to uncover your hidden strengths, capabilities and interests. Upon high school graduation, a person’s life experience is quite limited and so a simple quiz or an assessment is a good way to go more in-depth into your personality and core abilities.

Strengths and Interests

Get an idea of your personality and core strengths by taking one or more simple assessments. There is a free Career Personality Profiler test which you can take. When I took the test, I received a basic free report which was quite comprehensive in itself. The test was easy to complete in a few short minutes. You could also take the paid version for a more detailed report. The report lists broad strengths along with career recommendations for the personality type of the test taker.

CliftonStrengths for Students is another popular assessment tool for a detailed listing of a person’s core strengths, This is a students’s version of the test which can help you with choosing college major. In my case, I’d completed the Top 5 CliftonStrengths assessment for success in my workplace. I’ve been using the results of the assessment for many years and have found it to be very helpful for understanding my natural strengths in any situation.

The strengths-based assessments will enable you to figure out in broad-terms whether a Science or Mathematics field, or perhaps Healthcare, or Liberal arts, or Education or Public service or Technology major is right for you.

Related Electives and Topics

In some cases, you might have come across multiple areas which are part of your core strengths. For example, if your strengths report reveals that you are a good “Logical Thinker”, “Builder” and a good “Researcher”, perhaps both an engineer and a scientist are good occupations for you. In such a case, it would be good to figure out which of these give you the greatest joy and sense of accomplishment.

In this case, you also need to figure out which science or engineering field is right for you. To figure this out, take a small online course perhaps on Coursera or Edx, or take an AP test or read a book on these topics to determine which would be a better fit for you. If you find that more than one field such as Mathematics, Chemistry and Information Sciences is right for you, you can choose the one you are most interested in as your major and the rest of them among your electives.

Degree with Multiple Majors

If there are multiple fields of study you are interested in, there are two ways to go about it.

  1. Choose one degree major and the others as electives. In case you decide later on that another subject is a better fit as your major, you can enroll in another degree program at one of the colleges such as Excelsior or Charter Oak and then transfer all the credits from the prior degree to the new one.
  2. Choose an Individualized Studies degree program at Charter Oak State College which will allow you to choose multiple subject areas or majors as part of your degree program.

In-Demand Occupations by Industry

So now that you have a better idea of what to select as your college major, make sure that there are enough job opportunities that are relevant for your major. Not only should the opportunities be wide and growing but the starting pay should also be high enough for you to afford a good standard of living that meets your living expenses.

Here are a few resources for researching in-demand occupations for college graduates:

  1. 25 Best College Majors for a Lucrative Career
  2. Best-Paying Majors for a Career for 2019
  3. Highest-Paying Industries
  4. 25 Highest Paying Careers for College Graduates

 

Here is a list of college majors with reduced job opportunities along with information on alternative equivalent majors. This will help you choose the right major or to tweak your college major to match the career opportunities out there:

15 Worst College Majors for a Lucrative Career

Conclusion

By tying together your prior experiences with your strengths & interests, and then by further refining your interests by taking a few courses of learning, you can arrive at a suitable college major for your unique needs. Choosing college major does not have to be complicated. The series of steps described above are simply guidelines that will ensure that you arrive at the right major.

More importantly, just follow your heart more than any report, advice or guidelines. If a particular subject matter gives you joy and you could just work on it for hours and not even notice the time going by, that might be your true-calling or your life’s overall purpose. Choosing a college major that matches your life’s purpose is the ideal way to complete college for a future of happiness and success unlimited!

 

4 thoughts on “How To Go About Choosing College Major”

  1. Hi Padma, I enjoyed reading your article on How To Go About Choosing College Major. There’s a lot of helpful and interesting information. I can relate to what you are saying about any task or learning that you enjoy doing can shed light on a suitable major. My son was good in Math and Chemistry during his high school years. So he decided to major in Chemical Engineering. He graduated with a Bachelor degree in Chemical Engineering and loves his job.

    Best Wishes,
    Margaret

  2. Great article! I live in the Netherlands, so when I was 16-17, I needed to choose a major for University of Applied Sciences. I literally had no idea what I wanted to do. I liked biology and chemistry, so I picked Life Sciences. Well, it turned out to be not nearly as exciting as I’d hoped, so when I got my propaedeutics, I went to University for a major in Pharmacy.

    To this day, I’m not 100% sure of what I REALLY want to do for a fulltime job. However, I’m still graduating.

    As you’ve stated clearly in this article, you should focus on what excites you and on your strengths. This, I think, is the main takeaway for anyone that’s in the market for a major. Do something you like. Being multidisciplinary can also increase your chances on the job market.

    If you can turn your passion into your job, you’ll never work a day in your life!

    • Kevin, it sometimes happens that we end up searching and trying multiple subjects before arriving at the correct field. So don’t worry too much about this.

      In a way it is good that you have completed many college courses. If you later figure out what field is the best match for you, just contact Excelsior or Charter Oak or come back here for more of such colleges in my future posts.

      You can then transfer in your existing college credits to a new college degree and graduate very quickly and for a very affordable cost. It is possible to enroll in these degree programs from anywhere in the world, so there would be no need to move to the US during college. You can just visit the US for the graduation if you like but that is also not absolutely required :))

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