Monday, January 17, 2011

Choosing a Major

It's Time to Pick a Major!

Are you starting to freak out because you haven't selected a major? It's time to stop just thinking about it and actually take some action. Here are some useful tips to help you choose a major:

  • College alumni network: Ask alumni what they majored in and what types of jobs their degrees qualified them for. Are they glad they selected their particular major? Was the degree program difficult? If they had to do it all over again, would they select the same major?
  • Career counselor: Your college's career center has counselors who can help you with this important decision. They may suggest some books and offer some self-assessment tools. They'll set up meetings with faculty members who can answer questions and provide advice about specific majors.
  • Preview classes: Sit in on a few classes in the majors that interest you.
  • Changing colleges: If you can't find the right major at your current college, you may have to transfer to another school. Selecting a major is an important life decision, so don't choose an uninteresting major just so you can hang out with your college friends. There are plenty of websites on the Internet that provide lists of majors and the colleges that offer them.
  • Hot jobs: Ask career counselors for a list of the hot jobs at your college's career fairs. Find out which college degrees are sought after by employers visiting the campus. You may find something that interests you.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Take a look at the employment projections web page, which provides projections for a wide variety of jobs. You can search by education, training, or occupation. The website offers employment growth projections, salaries, and other useful information for many jobs. The Subject Area tab lets you access the employment and the pay and benefits categories, and these include a lot of useful subcategories. The Publications tab includes the occupational outlook quarterly, the occupational outlook handbook and career guides.

Useful Websites

Here's a list of useful websites to help students choose a major:

College Board provides information about majors as well as career profiles.

My Majors provides information on an array of majors. It includes descriptions of different career fields and the possible areas of specialization within each field.

Occupational Information Network offers a skills search activity that lets students identify their skills and match them to potential occupations.

Career OneStop; Career Infonet includes occupation information and state-based information about growing fields, trends, and other useful information.

What Can I Do With This Major? is a website that helps students connect majors with careers.

Choosing the right major is important. If you haven't decided on one yet, take some action!

Brian Jenkins is an expert on education topics. He contributes content to BrainTrack's guide to choosing a college degree program.
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  1. as someone who had picked a major (finance) based on the availability of jobs post-graduation, i'm almost inclined to say that the more important thing is to study something that you like. i know plenty of people who are going into finance who majored in areas like international politics or goverment.

    but great post!


  2. Kristen,

    The debate over choosing a major that you enjoy vs. one that will pay out is a popular one. Huffington Post fueled the debate with this particular article:

    I'm tempted to side with you however. While it is important to have a working knowledge of what career you want to go into, you can't spend four years studying a topic you hate. Especially when there is no guarentee that it will make you big bucks. And going to graduate school makes the topic slightly more complicated.