How to Select a College Degree Major

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At the start of their academic careers, many students often find deciding on which degree program to list as a major is one of the biggest decisions to make. It is an important decision and one that should not be taken lightly.

With technology rapidly evolving and, as a result, new degree majors in various subject areas being added all the time, the choices of a major are an enormous amount. First time, or even returning students, often feel overwhelmed by the vast number of degree programs listed in college catalogues.

When browsing through all the opportunities it is important to keep in mind that whatever major chosen is likely going to play a large role in guiding the career settled on, so it is important to get it right as deciding on a major is not a decision that should be made hastily.

Here are a few tips on how to select a college degree major:

Self-reflection

When selecting a major it is a time of reflection. To start, create a list of interests and then compare to see if the college you prefer has any degree programs that match. If so, think about what kind of potential job opportunities come with this interest.

Interest in the subjects chosen is critical, even if they aren’t the biggest career possibilities or high money earners. People who go after the big bucks, but aren’t truly interested in the subject, tend to end up making a career change later in life because they lack passion, so why waste the money and time on a degree that won’t lead to work that will be enjoyed? 

Think about your skills

While interest is very important, so are skills. In order to succeed in a degree program and, later on, a career, selecting a major where the right analytical, technical or talents are already possessed is important.

For instance, if a student may want to be a video game designer, but can’t seem to get the hang of programming, this is a problem. However, he or she might be more skilled as an artist, in this case, the student might want to consider majoring in graphic design and not get involved in the technical aspects of game design, yet still work in the field that is their chosen one.

Knowing what one’s aptitudes are is important when selecting a college major.

Career forecasts

Interests and skills are critical to build a career, but so is availability. There is no point getting trained in a discipline that is quickly becoming outdated, and most college degrees do reflect the rapid changes (i.e. technology) makes, but the updates and new courses added sometimes takes a bit of time.

One thing that can help students muddle through majors is to explore what kinds of jobs will be waiting at the end of the educational journey. Job forecasts can be an excellent way to match interests, skills with the kind of careers that will be available after graduation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a great resource to do this research.

Talk with an academic counselor

It is always a good idea to consult with a college academic counselor before registration. Admission counselors can offer a wealth of information for first time students and continuing students can see an academic counselor to discuss registration and degree options.

Even continuing students can benefit from checking in with a counselor between semesters, especially if a major doesn’t quite turn out as initially expected. A counselor can offer sound advice on what classes to select or perhaps even a better degree program which is better suited to the student.

Still unsure? Delay the decision

Often in the beginning of their college journey students are simply not ready to commit to a degree major; this is perfectly OK. It is better to delay a decision than go headfirst into a degree program that isn’t enjoyed, interesting or having aptitude. Sometimes it is best to explore options through general education courses and liberal studies that can help a student better pinpoint the direction they want to go.

Some of the most important factors to consider when picking a college degree major are interests, skills, and job forecasts. Students who take these into consideration and combine it with some sound advice from those “in the know”, they often have an easier time narrowing down their options and choosing the direction they truly want to go.  


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