Choosing a College or University Major for Your Own Reasons

By on June 24, 2011

How should I choose a major? Are some majors better than others? What if I don’t know what I want to do after college? These are questions that many students ask perennially as they get ready to embark on their college journeys.  I won’t go so far as to say that these questions are unimportant, but I if you don’t know the answers and don’t have a plan, try not to stress too much.  An extraordinarily small number of students head to college knowing what they will major in and what they want to do with their major.  Of those that do (or say they do), few end up sticking to their initial plan.

There are endless college degrees to choose from, some of the most popular include business, nursing and psychology. The website Online University has a fairly good list of common majors and degrees that students pursue in college. The Princeton Review also releases a regular ranking of the top 10 college majors. While statistics and data on majors can be helpful when making your decision, the most important thing to think about when choosing a major is why you are choosing that particular one. Are you choosing it because your parents want you to? Because your friends are doing the same one? Or, because it’s supposed to be easy? If so, you’re taking the wrong approach.  There are multiple valid reasons for choosing a major, chief among them are two reasons: enjoyment and functionality.

As a liberal arts student, I suggest doing what you enjoy and are passionate about because its likely to also be what you will have success doing. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with choosing a major on the basis of functionality. If a particular major will help you follow a certain career path or set you up for grad school, you need to weigh your options. This is a personal choice you must make for yourself and nobody else. If you have financial obligations or are highly concerned about finding a well paying job right out of school, here is an interesting article about the value of different majors. Make sure to take those numbers with a grain of salt as they are only averages and certainly should not become the deciding factor in your decision. There are an infinite amount of paths to success you need to figure out what your definition of success is and how you want to achieve it.

You don’t need to have a plan and you don’t need to decide right away. Again, this may be the liberal arts side of me talking, but I would suggest taking a large variety of courses in your first year of college to gauge your interests and skills. Use the resources around you (advisors, upperclassmen, professors, etc.) to help you make an informed decision. Take some time to make a choice you’ll be happy with but remember, choosing a major is not a life sentence and should not be viewed as such.

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2 Comments

  1. Radhika Bora

    June 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    As a senior who is passionate about a million different things and can’t seem to decide on just one to pick as my major, this article was very reassuring. The point that students should take a variety of classes in their freshman year is particularly good. Since I haven’t yet been able to choose between a writing-, art-, or history-focused major, experience in different basic-level courses related to these majors (or even a completely different major) would probably be very helpful for me as a freshman in college.

  2. Andre Tarquinio

    June 26, 2011 at 9:48 am

    This article is very informative for me as a rising senior who is struggling with this decision. This article reinforces what I believe and that is students should choose majors that THEY are passionate about and not based on peer pressure from friends or family.

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