Narrowing Down Your College Major Options

Here's how to narrow down your college major options.

Flickr user Quinn Dombrowski

Picking a college major isn’t always easy, and nobody should refer to eenie-meenie-minie-moe to choose. If you have a couple of options on the table, here’s how to narrow down your college major options.

Start with a Career and Work Backwards

Sometimes you may have two or three different passions you’re interested in pursuing. (Personally, I was flip-flopping between Marine Biology and Creative Writing for a while). It can help to mentally fast-forward and look at potential careers first, then work your way backwards to find which major suits that career best.

Research some careers in the fields you’re considering. Do any of them really appeal to you? Can you see yourself in that position down the road? What elements of the career do you dislike? Brainstorming the end result can sometimes make the initial choice easier.

To take it a step further, look for a part-time job or internship related to the career. This can help you get direct experience and get a feel for what it’s like.

Talk with a Professional in the Field

Say you want to be an archaeologist, and you’re considering either majoring in History or Anthropology. It can be a big help to talk to a bona fide archaeologist and hear what they have to say. You could set up an email or phone interview and ask them which background they’d find most helpful, or ask them what they majored in. Getting a firsthand account can be invaluable.

Or what if your two potential majors are completely different. Say you’re thinking either Nursing or Elementary Education. Track down someone in either position and ask if you can do a job shadow, or even just ask some questions about their jobs. Getting first person information can help you make a more informed decision.

Be sure to talk to your school counselor as well! They’ll have good insight into your strengths.

Thoroughly Research the Major

And what if you have a major in mind, but not a career? Then its time to sit down and get to researching. You can look up each major’s job placement rate, the average starting salary, career paths, and even which colleges are well known for those types of programs (College Raptor can help you out there!)

You can also discover niche offshoots of the general major. For example, if you’re considering majoring in Biology, you could look into the more focused majors relating to it, like Biochemistry, Biomedical Science, or Microbiology.

Utilize some of these tactics on how to narrow down your choices and find the right major for you.


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