Picking a college major can be as difficult as picking a starter Pokemon. Some students have had their hearts set on a career path since they were old enough to say "I want to be an astronaut!", while others are still searching for their dream major even with college drawing near. But don't worry, whether you're already on campus or just starting the college application journey, this comprehensive guide will help you choose a major that's perfect for you and will have you dancing with delight!
But wait a minute…
What is a major?
A major is the primary area of study that your degree focuses on. Your major will consist of several classes related to your core subject of interest. When paired with your degree, your major can help potential employers or postgraduate programs understand your level of expertise and knowledge in a certain area. Let’s say you choose to ‘major’ in business, you might pursue the Bachelor of Business Administration degree.
Students can pick from a variety of majors, ranging in specificity. You could pick “Medicine” as your major or get specific with “Veterinary Science”. Students ideally declare their major when they start school or by the end of their sophomore year. The chosen major determines your coursework, which will focus on topics related to your major.
Degree vs Major vs Minor
Degrees, majors, minors… With so many new terms thrown at you on entering college, it can all get so confusing! We’ve broken down the difference between degrees, majors, and minors to help you better understand these concepts!
First off, you need to know what a major is. And no, we don’t mean the musical key or the high-ranking army officer. A major is a specific subject that students choose to specialise in. Also known as specialisation, it is what most of your college curriculum will revolve around throughout your college life. A minor, on the other hand, is an additional specialisation that you can study, which will have fewer courses compared to a major.
Often you’ll hear people say, “I have a degree in ____.” and complete the sentence with the subject that they’ve chosen as their major. So is there even a difference between the two?
The answer is yes. A degree is what you earn once you complete your major and coursework requirements. Put simply, you get a ‘degree’ in a subject that you’ve chosen as your ‘major’.
How to choose your major
Choosing the right degree is a common problem that most students face. If you haven’t given it a lot of thought, you might be confused as to where to begin when choosing a major. We’ve put together this step-by-step guide to help you choose a major that is perfect for you!
Step 1: Find Your Passion
The first step when choosing your major is taking a look at what you like to do. Find what you’re interested in. If nothing comes to mind, you can try listing down what you enjoy doing. This might help you figure out possible fields that you might be interested in and career paths that might suit you. If you enjoy drawing and are interested in technology, you might want to consider pursuing a degree in graphic design. If you hold interest in both law and finance, you can try your hand at business law.
Step 2: Assess yourself
Passion shouldn’t be your only determining factor when choosing a major. Analyse your strengths and weaknesses to help you better understand how your current skill set and knowledge might help you study your major. If you pick a major that you aren’t that good at, you might have to work harder for your degree than the average student. Although this shouldn’t be your only determining factor, gauging your expertise in different areas will help you estimate the amount of effort and time you will have to put in to complete your degree. If a subject you are weak in is something you are passionate about, you can still pick it to improve your skills! You might just find that you love it!
Step 3: Do your research
Doing proper research on the curriculum and availability of your subjects of interest is a vital step when it comes to choosing a major. Don’t just pick a subject purely because you’re familiar with it. Understand how it might benefit your career, how much it will cost you (in time, effort, and money). Don’t just pick a college because it’s well-known. Instead spend time researching which college is the best for your particular major and whether they’re private or public.
Here are some lists to help you find the right college for your subject of interest:
- 10 Best Psychology Universities For Psych Majors
- 15 Best Schools For Mechanical Engineering
- Top 5 Medical Schools In Australia
Step 4: Estimate salaries
Once you’ve narrowed down your possible majors according to interest, skill, and availability, the next step is checking if your chosen major aligns with your career path. While doing this, make sure to also check what potential jobs you can expect to land with your degree and what the average pay range is for these jobs. Here are some blogs that might help you get a better idea:
- Highest paying jobs for English majors
- Highest Paying Jobs With a Psychology Degree
- Most Employable Degrees In the UK
Knowing how having a post-graduate degree affects your career scope and potential pay range is also important and can help you map out your future career. Check out our blog on the best majors for your future to get a head start!
Things to Consider When Choosing Your Major
Knowing what interests you is quite important when it comes to choosing a major. If you pick a major that doesn't align with your interests, you might not be able to fully engage when learning about it. If there are multiple degrees that fit your interests, you can compare them to figure out which major to choose. Here are a few comparisons of similar degrees:
Analyzing what your strengths and weaknesses are is a crucial step when choosing a major. Although you don't have to be exceptionally good in the major that interests you, it can help you understand how much effort you can expect to put into the coursework on choosing a particular major.
3. Pay Range
As mentioned before, priorities are something to consider when choosing a major. If money holds prioroty for you, it is important to also check what the average salary range is for potential jobs in the field of your chosen major.
Some majors such as STEM have extensive coursework that can be quite tedious for those who do not hold enough interest or expertise in the chosen field. It is important to consider how broad or specific your subject material will be.
The deeper you delve into the range of majors to choose from, the more you’ll realise how vast it is. To narrow down your options when choosing a major, it is also quite important to check whether colleges near you offer the subjects that you’re interested in. If not, then you might want to consider studying abroad, which comes with several benefits. If studying abroad, you also need to consider whether you can pay tuition fees for studying abroad while keeping up with the cost of living. You can also check out the scholarships available to help you with this. Bes sure to check out Australian scholarships, and Chevening Scholarship.
What if you can’t decide on a major?
With so many options available when choosing a major, you might not be able to pick just one. Imagine going to Professor Oak’s lab and seeing not just three, or four, or five, but hundreds of pokemon sat on the desk, waiting for you to pick one. If faced with indecision, you’ll be glad to know that you don’t have to choose your major right away. To figure out your major, you can try interning or volunteering in your fields of interest.
Can you change your major?
Yes, you can change your major in college. Sometimes the majors you pick in your first year might not hold your interest throughout the rest of your degree. Most college let you change your major as long as your credits align with the date that you expect to graduate on. For more guidance on planning your credits and building your schedule, you can visit your college counsellor.
Are double majors worth it?
Can’t pick between your top two options? What if we told you you don’t have to? That’s right! Most colleges and universities now allow students to double or triple major. Students who do this usually pick two fields that complement each other. However, this isn’t a requirement. Some common combinations when choosing a major include:
- Accounting and finance
- Political science and philosophy
- Engineering and math
- Criminal justice and psychology
Double majors, do however, require more time and effort to complete. So, if you don’t have enough space in your schedule to fit both majors in, you want to instead consider declaring a single major and one minor in your other subject of interest. Make sure you don’t confuse double majors with double degrees.
Designing your own major
If you’re unable to find a major that fits your interests, luckily for you, some colleges will let you design your own major. The process typically involves building your case, hitting deadlines, and working with professors to produce a culminating project. Here are some student-created majors:
- Music and technology
- Public education history
- Psychology of marketing
And that's all you need to know before choosing a major. Choosing a major may seem puzzling, but with a little bit of self-discovery and a sprinkle of bravery, you'll be well on your way to finding the major that suits you best. Don't be afraid to take a page from "The Matrix" and break the mould, because life is an adventure, and choosing a major is just the first step in a journey that's out of this world.