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A Guide to Choosing a College Major

 

Your choice of a major is an important decision. It has both long and short term consequences that should be examined carefully in the decision making progress. Not only will your major play a role in your ultimate career path, it also most immediately determines how you interact with your college or university as well as your intellectual development. There are so many choices of majors precisely because no one major or group of majors is the right one for every student. Our guide and suggestions should be considered along with your individual requisites as you make your decision.

  • Identify your aptitudes and interests. Success in a major depends on your aptitudes, interests and ability. As you look through the possibilities take the time to check out the requirements demanded by possible majors and honestly assess your ability and inclination to complete them.
     

  • Factor in the job market. Many departments have prepared lists of careers applicable to graduates of their discipline. Your advisor can also direct you to this information. Try to picture yourself in these careers and assess if they are suitable. Donít be completely guided by todayís job market. Our fast changing world may make your choice less desirable in 3 or 4 years. Choose a major and career that suits and, in fact, reflects you as a person. 
     
  • Be creative and flexible. Use your electives to add classes like statistics, computer science, accounting, economics, advanced composition, management, speech or other technical and applied courses to meet requirements for the major.  Knowledge and skills in these areas may make you a more marketable job hunter later on.
     
  • Factor in grades. The grades you achieve are used as an index of your suitability. Employers and admissions offices use grades as an indication of what you have learned, your dedication, enthusiasm, and self-discipline. Choosing a program of study interesting to you usually means that you will be more dedicated, have more enthusiasm, be more likely to discipline yourself, and, as a result, earn higher grades.
     
  •  Be aware of advanced training requirements. Some professions require certifications or advance degrees. Make sure you know what is needed other than a major to follow your career path and make plans for fulfilling these requirements.
     
  • Change your mind. It may not be easy and it might cost you some time but the fact is it is far easier to change majors now than to interrupt your life in five years to return to school for a degree in another discipline. Donít be embarrassed to tell your advisor that your priorities or interests have changed. Intellectual life presents an impressive array of options.
     
  • Let your career goal drive your choice. Many graduate and professional schools expect you to take particular courses. Many recruiters looking for people with certain skills expect to find courses on the applicantís transcript that reflect these skills. 
     
  • Get practical experience. Classes are not the only barometer.  Jobs, volunteer activities and extracurricular activities all come together in validating your choice of a major.

    Once you have found a major that suits your interests and aptitudes, make it's requirements and flexibility work for you.. Take a good look at your major and see if you can use statistics, computer science, accounting, economics, advanced composition, management, speech or other technical and applied courses to meet requirements for the major; knowledge and skills in these areas may make you a more marketable job hunter later on.

    You might assume that future graduate study would have to be in the same area as your undergraduate major. In reality, many graduate programs do not restrict selection on the basis of major. Some only require completion of specific courses, leaving the choice of major open (law and medicine are examples) and for many having related experience and strong academic skills is more important than having a particular major.. Thus, people often pursue advanced degrees in areas that differ from their undergraduate studies.

 

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