Choosing a college major is a challenging task. It is equally interesting. One thing that you need to be clear about is that your choice of major does not keep you in boundaries of a specific career for the rest of your life.
However, choosing a major or at least having an idea about subject majors of your interest is important in choosing and applying to US colleges. This article mainly deals with introducing you to majors and a few guidelines that you need to follow before deciding a major.
What is a major?
Major refers to a special area of study that you will pursue during your years in college. Generally, there are general course requirements for colleges. The courses on subjects like Chemistry, Economics, or Political Science, among others, which you can choose as your specific area of study apart from the general requirements are known as majors. You can even design a major on your own in some of the colleges in the US.
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Importance of a major
The major you choose is not the all in all for what you are going to do or be in the future. You can see many graduates of a major working in fields that do not relate much to the major. There might be prerequisites of a few courses in order to study certain subject masters or doctorate. But, generally choosing a major does not destroy your prospect in any other field of career.
When should you declare a major?
For most colleges, you do not need to declare a major for your admission. Typically you will decide your major in sophomore or junior year of your college. However, the answer may vary across colleges and programs. Some colleges may even ask about your expected major on your application, but they don’t need declaration at that time.
If you are interested in a major that requires a lot of classes, or classes that are limited to students in that major, then it is better to declare early. Some majors demand a strictly regimented order of courses, and if you fall behind, you may have to extend your college stay by a semester or two.
Factors to consider while choosing a major
You may not need to declare a major before your admission, buy brainstorming about them is necessary. If you are certain about what major you are going to study in college, you can make your application more promising and convincing. You will know about what activities are important for you in high school if you have an idea on your major preference.
You need to keep in mind the following factors before deciding on majors:
Choose a major that designs you for your career goals. Maybe you already have an idea about what you want to be— a nurse, an economist, a businessman, or a web developer? Before you choose your major, be clear on what the major incorporates. You can even take a few classes in the relevant discipline. You can even compare how you were in the high school classes of the subjects that correspond to the majors. Make sure you’re ready for the coursework required for the career of your dreams.
Some people need to focus on finance. You need to understand how much your major is going to earn you after graduation if you are paying on your own or taking out loans. Some majors that have high earning potential are engineering, actuarial mathematics, computer science, physics, statistics, government, and economics. Keep your quality of life in mind, too—that six-figure salary may not be worth it if you’re not happy at the office.
Subjects You Love
This can also be related to your career. Generally, students pursue a career depending on their interests. Your interest in certain subjects can indicate your interest in certain career. It is a self-motivation for you to choose a major with subject areas that are of your interest. If you love what you’re studying, you’re more likely to fully engage with your classes and college experience, and that can mean better grades and great relationships with others in your field.
If you are interested in political science, don’t give it up just because you don’t know what possibilities are there for the students of that discipline. You can dig further to know about the discipline in order to decide whether you really want to go forward in choosing it as a major or not. Many liberal arts majors provide students with critical thinking skills and writing abilities that are highly valued by employers.
Explore your interests if you are undecided.
It is okay if you truly don’t have any idea on what major you want to pursue. Many schools don’t require students to declare a major until sophomore year. This gives you four semesters to explore your interests in order to decide a major. Make the most of any required general education courses—choose ones that interest you. Talk to professors, counselors, and friends in order to know about their views about your interests.
Exploring your interests will help you find your best fit major—and maybe even your ideal career. You can start exploring your interests from high school as well. This is preferable because you are fresh and raw during your time in high school and you can shape yourself according to your will.
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You can change your decision
Some people might think that choosing a major is the closing of the door for their prospect in other fields. One of the most exciting aspects of college life is that it introduces you to new subjects and fosters new passions. It is possible that you might enter college aiming to study Physics but end up taking an Economics major to eventually be a successful economist. However, there is requisite coursework for every major. Some require you to take introductory courses before you move into the more advanced classes. Also, some classes are offered in the fall but not in the spring, or vice-versa. If you change your major late in the game, it may take more than the traditional four years to earn a degree.
Minors and Double Majors
One field may not satisfy your hunger for knowledge. In such cases, taking a minor in an additional subject of interest is the best way. A minor is similar to major since it is also an area of academic concentration. The difference is that minors require fewer classes.
Some undergrads may address their love for two different subjects by taking two different majors. Majoring in two subjects allows you to be familiar with two fields of interest, values, and views.
However, you will need to fulfill two sets of requirements and twice the number of classes. You will have to give more time to these fields. Combination of different disciplines—major and major or major and minor—make you more marketable. But, most students prefer focusing on a single major.