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how to choose a college major

Beginning your college experience comes with almost countless decisions regarding where you’ll attend school, how you’ll pay for your classes, where you’ll live, and more. However, as you prepare for college, one of the most dreaded questions is also one of the most frequently asked by everyone from parents, teachers, and even friends: What is your major?

How Do You Choose a Major?

Your undergraduate degree sets forth a structure for your future studies, as well as the career you’ll choose. Therefore, making a smart decision now can help set you up for success in the long run.

With many potential majors available, choosing the right one can be an intimidating process. Keep these tips in mind while making your decision:

  • Consider and set your goals. Before you choose a major, you’ll need to answer larger questions for yourself. Why am I attending college? What do I expect to get out of my studies? If the answers to these questions outline a particular career path, you’ve found a goal and a potential set of majors. If your goals are vaguer and include statements such as “to get a job” and “figure out what I want to do,” you’ll likely want to keep your major general to start.
  • Consider your aptitude. What are your areas of strength? Which are your areas of improvement? While it may seem obvious to choose a major that fits into your existing areas of success, now is a great time to discuss these areas with parents, teachers, and employers to determine how those skills translate into your potential college coursework.
  • Consider your preferences. Many times, your likes and dislikes align with your strengths and weaknesses; however, that’s not always the case. Choosing a major you’re not interested in simply because the coursework promises to come easily to you can be a recipe for disaster. Instead, make sure the classes in your potential major will keep your interest in the years ahead.
  • Consider your career potential. While you don’t need to decide on your eventual career path right now, a general field of interest can help you narrow your list of majors significantly. Some advanced careers, such as law and medicine, require graduate level education and specialized degrees. If you’re considering one of those careers, choosing an undergraduate major that easily lends itself to graduate school acceptance is key.
  • Consider the advice of others. While you are ultimately the one in charge of choosing your major, there are plenty of others who may be able to offer advice. For instance, your advisor has the skills and the resources to help you assess your choices. Other potential resources may be students and professors within the majors you’re considering; their experiences may help you determine whether a particular major is for you.

Choosing a major isn’t an easy decision. Fortunately, it isn’t a decision that needs to be made the moment you step on campus, and it isn’t set in stone. In fact, nearly a third of students change majors at least once in the first three years. At the end of the day, the key is to choose a major and classes that bring you closer to meeting the goals you’ve set for your education.

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