Choosing a major is a decision many students make before even starting their college list. For most high school students, this is a scary thought. What if they choose the wrong major? After all, their choice of major will determine all future career prospects, won’t it?
If you’re a high school student, you’ll be relieved to know that this is a myth. Your college major does not determine all your future job opportunities. According to employment experts, focusing on developing transferable skills is more critical for students’ future careers than their choice of major.
So does that mean you could get away with choosing the easiest major? No! That would definitely be a mistake. Let’s break down how your choice of major influences your career opportunities, even if it doesn’t set them in stone.
Why Your Major Won’t Determine ALL Your Future Job Prospects
The job market of today is changing continuously. Employers are no longer interested only in an applicant’s academic background. They are more interested in determining if a potential candidate has a core set of soft skills that will make them an asset to their company.
Do you have solid leadership, communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills? Are you a team player willing to collaborate with other coworkers on projects? Do you have the necessary work ethic and professionalism? Are you up to date with digital technology? These are some of the attributes potential employers will want to assess.
So Why Bother With Choosing a Major?
Your major isn’t entirely useless, of course. If you have a career path in mind, choosing an appropriate major will help you gain the academic knowledge necessary to be successful in that field. It helps you but it doesn’t necessarily affect your career prospects. Naturally, certain careers such as doctors, nurses, engineers, and dentists, will require specific majors or programs to break into the field.
Also, don’t forget, you have to complete 4 years of college to earn an undergraduate degree. It’s worth taking the time to choose a major in a field that you’re interested in and that plays to your strengths.
Majors Still Affect Career Opportunities
Naturally, your choice in major still plays into your future career. A company trying to hire a Software Designer wouldn’t hire someone who majored in Zoology and didn’t have any computer programming experience. However, a company might hire an Accounting major for a Marketing position if that student has relevant experience. Maybe that student had an internship with marketing responsibilities. Or maybe they were in charge of their student org’s social media account and organized several fundraising events.
The point is, your major doesn’t necessarily set your career paths in stone. There is some flexibility. Experience is the key. Did you know many lawyers were English majors in undergrad? After all, English majors are adept at communication, writing, research, and critical thinking—all vital skills for future lawyers.
So How Do You Pick a Major?
There are a couple of methods of picking a major:
Choosing a Subject That Interests You
Many students start by majoring in something they excelled in during school. Love math? You could major in Mathematics or Statistics. Did you ace your AP Chemistry class? Why not be a Chemistry major?
Starting with the field you’re interested is a great strategy. From there, you can research types of careers related to that field, and even make connections with your professors about the industries.
Picking a Dream Career and Working Backwards
Already know what you’d like to do in life? Maybe you feel very strongly about becoming a brain surgeon. Biology or Pre-Med is a solid undergrad choice there. Always dreamed about becoming a farmer? Agricultural Sciences would be perfect for you.
Sit down and research which majors relate to your dream college. In fact, College Raptor can help you do just that. Visit our Career Center to learn all about specific jobs–including median pay, related majors, the best colleges for it, and more.
Undeclared: Exploring in College
Of course, if you’re not sure of either, you can always go into college undeclared. After a few semesters, exploring different general education classes, you can discover your interests. Keeping an open mind allows you to consider multiple opportunities.
Majors Affect–but Don’t Dictate–Your Future Career Options
In the end, what really determines your job prospects is YOU. Potential employers look at your experiences, interests, talents, and accomplishments when considering you. They look at the whole picture, not just the major you studied. Sure, it can be part of the deciding factor, but it’s not necessarily the be-all-end-all.
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