Going to college can be intimidating for many students. One of the most daunting tasks can be choosing a major that is right for you. There are many factors to take into consideration before deciding on what major you will start off with in college. As a college graduate, I have learned what to do (and what not to do) when choosing a major and career path. Follow these basic guidelines to help you decide what will be the right path for you.
Grab a Pen and Paper
It may seem old fashioned but dedicating a notebook to your notes on what major you want is a useful tool. I would suggest one with at least one folder built in or using a binder with paper and folders. You can take it with you anywhere and show it to your high school counselor when you ask for advice or have meetings. It’s easy to take with you to any college prep events you attend and you can keep all your paperwork in one place. When I was getting ready to go to college, it was right when most universities went almost completely digital with paperwork, and I still found my notebook helpful. It allowed me to always have information at my fingertips.
Make a List
Make a list of all your favorite activities or causes you’re passionate about. Perhaps you’re very athletic and have played multiple sports in high school. This could translate into a major in sports medicine or even broadcasting. Maybe you are passionate about civil rights and were on debate teams. Political science or even pre-law might be a good fit for you. Make the list as long as you like. After you have made the list, rank each interest from the lowest to the highest and look at your top five. This can help you narrow down your focus a lot. I had a three page long list when I was preparing for college and it allowed me not only to make an informed choice, but to get to know myself a little better.
Now that you know your interests, you will want to explore careers that are relevant to those interests. If you have a careers class at school, I would encourage you to take it. It will give you a lot of insight about the job market and careers that fit your skills. The Occupational Outlook Handbook online can give you ideas about projected growth, salary and the training you will need to get a career in your field of interest. Ask your counselor if your school has any software programs that can help you find what jobs may fit your skill set. I took a course in high school that allowed me to take quizzes and even practice modules on what a career might be like to help me make a better decision.
Pick the Right School
Now that you have more data on the career path you want to follow and know the types of majors that can get you into that field, you can select where you want to go to school. While there can be may factors on where you attend your post secondary education, the right type of school is important. If you want a career that only requires an associate’s degree or less, you will want to probably choose a technical or community college rather than a 4-year institution. Some may choose a military career and go right into the service. If you want to pursue a master’s or PhD., like if you want to be a doctor, you will want to choose a 4-year university. I chose a 4- year university which allowed me many options for classes to take and the environment I desired for school.
Once you determine the right type of school, you need to find what school offers the major or majors you’re interested in. Liberal arts colleges tend to have a vast array of majors that can lead to the same career path. I went to a large university and was able to have my focused major but also explore other interests. Most colleges and universities have their available majors listed on their website and you can search for what interests you. Ask your counselor if he or she has recommendations for an institution that has your chosen major.
The next steps are of course taking any applicable testing and applying to the institutions that fit your needs. Your counselor or adviser can walk you through every step of this process. Keep track of your test scores and dates, and where and when you applied to colleges (I told you that notebook would come in handy). This will let you not worry too much about the time frame between applying and hearing back about their decision. If you’ve done all your homework and prepared thoroughly, you will feel confident in your choice of school, and your choice of major.
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