6 Things to Consider While Exploring College Majors

Choosing a major is a difficult decision and many students start college while still being undecided on their major. While going in undecided is an option, having an idea of your major before applying is ideal. That way, you can search for colleges that offer said major. You owe it to yourself to spend some time exploring college majors and try to identify one that’s best suited for you. Here are 6 things you should consider while exploring college majors.

Student pushing open a door, with a plant in the foreground.

Your Dream Career & Passion

Have you always dreamed of pursuing a particular career? Maybe you dreamed of becoming an architect and designing futuristic or environmentally-friendly buildings? Or perhaps you dreamed of becoming a journalist or a physician? If you are passionate about a particular career, the choice of major is pretty straightforward. You’ll have to choose a major that will qualify you for a career in your chosen field. Choosing a major you’re truly passionate about can be exhilarating. You’ll enjoy the coursework and be motivated to complete your assignments. Knowing that you’ll use the skills you’re learning in your major in the workforce is also a big incentive.

If are undecided about your dream career, start by shortlisting the top five most suitable careers. Then explore each one further till you have eliminated all but one. Consider what’s really important to do in a career. What would give you the most satisfaction and fill you with joy? What kind of work environment would you feel most comfortable in? Answering these questions will help you make more realistic career choices.

Want an easy way to explore careers and discover relevant majors and schools? Check out College Raptor’s free Career Center!

Your Strengths & Weaknesses

Assessing your strengths and weaknesses is important.  Unfortunately, students usually overlook this aspect while exploring majors and careers. While you do want to choose a major you’re passionate about, you also want to ensure that it plays to your strengths. You may dream of pursuing a career as an architect. But if you’ve always struggled with algebra, geometry and trigonometry in high school, college could become an endless struggle for you.

Choosing a major based on your abilities boost your confidence and motivate you to perform well in college. Getting good grades will further boost your confidence and motivation. All of this will set you on the path towards a successful career.

Average Median Salary

There are some people who may scoff when you talk about the earning potential of a major. It may seem like a boring, materialistic reason to choose a major. But the fact is you cannot afford to disregard factors such as salary potential. College is expensive. Most students graduate with a mountain in student loan debt. If your chosen career doesn’t pay well, you’ll never get out of debt. You need to earn enough to afford your monthly payments while also enjoying a decent quality of life.

Careers within STEM, architecture, medicine or business are the highest paying. Teaching on the other does not pay very well. Of course, you don’t want to think about money in exclusion. You should weigh it against your passions and abilities.

Annual Job Openings

Employability is another factor to consider when choosing a major. It’s important to have a realistic picture of your job prospects after graduation. You may want to major in Roman military history or Greek mythology but what job prospects do these majors offer? You cannot afford to choose a major based solely on your interests. Regardless of anything else, you still have to pay back the thousands of dollars in student loans that you took to fund your degree.

You’ll have to reset your major exploration if your selected major has low job prospects. Start by checking out the annual job opening rates in different fields. This will give you an overall idea of which professions are facing shortages and which have low job projections. Use this information to weigh the major you’re interested in against the employability that that major offers. You may have to compromise and choose your 2nd or 3rd preferred major if your first choice offers poor job prospects.

Discover both average salaries and annual job opening rates at the Career Center!

Minors

A college minor can complement your chosen major, round out your degree, or expand your knowledge of a particular passion. The minor you choose can lend weight to your resume when you apply for a job after graduation. For example, let’s say you choose to major in Business. Choosing a minor in marketing can help to boost your employability.

Number of Careers Related to the Major

Some majors may lead to a diverse range of careers. Other may qualify you for a very few specialized careers. Take Kinesiology for example. Majoring in Kinesiology will qualify for very few, niche professions. Make sure you’re truly interested in that particular career if you choose a niche major.

Things You Can Do to Dive Deeper Into Major Exploration

Here are a few additional tips:

Research

Reading about majors and careers will help broaden your horizon and introduce you to many majors you may not have considered. You may also find that a few that you thought were exciting may actually bore you to tears. A few others may involve taking courses that you are likely to struggle with. Starting early will give you plenty of time to dig deep into potential majors and learn more about them.

College Raptor has an extensive catalogue of majors to explore! Check them out here.

Job Shadowing

Take your exploration one step further with shadowing activities. Shadowing involves following a professional in a particular field for a week or more. A behind-the-scenes look at a career can be eye-opening.

Summer Activities

Taking up a summer or part-time job, attending community classes or open-to-public classes hosted by local colleges, and volunteering are other things you can do to explore college majors. Better to start early and spend time exploring majors than to regret your choice later.

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