Whether you are just beginning college or finishing your core curriculum, you may be wondering what to choose as a major area of study. Choosing a major is an important decision, and there are several things that should factor into your choice.
First, you must love what you are going to study. If you do not like a particular area of study but think you can get a good job with that degree, then you are probably setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. Only a love for the subject can sustain you through hours of grueling study and a future of working in that field. If you simply hate business, it does not matter if you make good money with a business degree. Therefore, future income should not be your only consideration in choosing a major. Instead, you should choose something in which you are interested and for which you have a natural talent.
This is not to say that you should ignore money, either. While you may love art, few people make a living as artists. You might want to consider related fields that will offer you a decent income as well as a chance to do what you love, such as teaching art at the high school or college level or working in an art-related business or as a graphic artist for an advertising company.
You should also consider the major fields offered by your school and the strength of these programs. It does little good to major in an area in which your school offers a very limited curriculum; if this is the case, you should consider changing schools.
This is a difficult question to answer because the answer depends on your ultimate career goals. There are many jobs held by people who did not major in that field, and there are many college majors working in areas outside their fields of study. If the question is, “Can I get a job with my major?” the answer may well be “Yes, no matter what you study.”
On the other hand, there are some jobs that simply will not be available to you if you do not have a particular degree. It is important, therefore, to research the job market before you commit yourself to a certain major, or prepare yourself for the extra work required to get a double major or a second degree.
One thing that you probably do not want to do is change majors once you have put in a certain amount of time into your studies. Students frequently do this, but the result is that you will spend far longer in school than anticipated, especially if you choose a new major that is very different from your old one. For example, if you begin as a biology major and switch to English literature, few of your classes will transfer from one major to the other.
Of course, if you begin a program and realize that you are not suited for it, you may have no choice but to change majors and to choose another course of study. It is better to cut your losses early if you realize you are not going to succeed in a certain major; however, you should give yourself a fair chance before you change course, and you should be prepared to do some “catch up” work in your new major field.
At the beginning of your junior year, your academic advisor should begin to talk with you about your proposed major. Many colleges require you to fill out a major declaration form and file it with your academic advisor stating that you are choosing a particular course of study. This form becomes a legal document that must be changed with your signature if you change majors at a later time.
Many colleges also change your academic advisor once you become a major in a certain department. You will receive an academic advisor assignment from your new major department who can better guide you on course choices within your major.
You will also receive a proposed course of study that outlines required and elective classes for your major. Most majors require about 45 hours of study in your major field and 15 hours of study in guided electives. Your academic advisor can help you choose electives that will support your learning and give you a better educational experience.
Choosing a major is just as important as decision as choosing a college. Many times both go hand in hand and without making the appropriate considerations about your field of study before entering college you may very well end up learning a very expensive lesson.