By: Sean Brunson
"Yes it was extremely hard (to choose a major) because there is so much pressure to pick the "right one" but talking to upperclassmen in the majors that I thought I would be good at and the ones that interested me really helped me make my decision. Also being undeclared freshman year gave me more time to think about it" (Gregoire, Interview).
A major is “a subject or field of study chosen by a student to represent his or her principal interest and upon which a large share of his or her efforts are concentrated” (dictionary.com). Hundreds of different majors exist, and typically college students just entering college will prefer some sort of majors, but some will still have no idea. Nonetheless an adequate amount of time for one to choose a major that he or she likes and would want to carry on in life also exists. In addition to that, the importance of most majors is that the one chosen will either directly give one certain skills to perform in that specific career or indirectly give one certain skills for a career that does not specifically pertain to that major. Regardless, a choice of major is one of the most important things one will do in a lifetime. However one should realize that even though a major is an important choice, one should not freak out about it because many options to make choosing a major easier exist.
Difficulty of ChoosingEdit
Choosing a major is one of the hardest decisions to make because so many choices are at hand. There are majors in “business, architecture, education, engineering, and even area, ethnic, cultural, and gender studies” (Major and Career Profiles, collegeboard.com). In addition to that, if those don’t prompt enough interest, then one could choose from hundreds of other options. Having said that, one of the leading reasons why choosing a major is a difficult process is because “some students choose majors because it will prepare them for a specific career path” (Choosing a Major, princetonreview.com).
To learn and prepare for the “real” world is the main reason students go to college, but without a specific subject matter learned, the “real” world might be a little more difficult. Also, such majors “will give you specific, practical skills that will be directly applicable to your post–graduation career” (Choosing a Major, princetonreview.com). Without these skills, performance in most jobs will be difficult.
Money and The MajorEdit
Some students though will think too hard about which major is the “best” major with respect to job opportunities. A number of factors could go into this “best” major, including one of the biggest factors: money. Typically most people want the job that pays the most. For example, according to Time Magazine, petroleum engineering is the highest paid major out of college, with salaries around “$120,000 a year” (The 20 Best and Worst Paid College Majors, time.com). A conflict arises though with this situation. This conflict is that petroleum engineering takes a lot of science-based classes, which can be difficult for some people. Without taking these science-based classes, the job cannot be executed. Therefore the result is that students have to choose a major that they just essentially love even though “you may pursue a career that has little to do with what you studied in college” (Choosing a Major, princetonreview.com).
Tips on ChoosingEdit
Choosing a major doesn’t have to be as hard as you think it should be. Many ways to go about choosing the right major are available. However the first step is the most important and that is, according to the Career Center at UGA, “in order to figure out what you want to do in life, you need to know who you are first” (Choosing a Major, career.uga.edu). They go on to say, “you need to be aware of your personality, interests, values, and skills” (Choosing a Major, career.uga.edu). These key attributes will help students find the major that they would like and in the end hopefully get them a career that is enjoyable.
To determine these key attributes, many different assessment tests are available to help narrow down the subject fields that one might be interested in pursuing. Once the subject fields have been narrowed, the student should take classes in that subject or subjects to see if it is the right fit. Students probably do not want to jump into those classes without knowing anything about them. A little research ahead of time could be quite conducive to success. Finding out what the subjects cover, as well as the degree of post graduation usefulness in the job world, would be very helpful.
Professors and UpperclassmenEdit
It would be a great idea to take the opportunity to talk with people who already have taken those subjects. According to one student’s declaration, the best advice is, “going to talk to upperclassmen, professors, advisors or even a career services type of place to make sure that the major you want will have jobs when you graduate” (Gregoire, Interview). Utilizing these groups of people could be very beneficial because they can give insights about the subject that the assessment tests could never have given. Plus these groups of people, especially upperclassmen and professors, are easier to talk to because they are essentially everywhere on campus. In addition to that, according to the Princeton Review, “upperclassmen are the real experts at the college and they have faced the daunting task of declaring a major themselves” (Choosing a Major, princetonreview.com).
The Future: Classes, Internships, and BeyondEdit
Once declaring a major, a student needs to tie it all back in with his or her college career, which means choosing classes and preparing oneself for the “real” world. This is one of the easier steps in making sure the major chosen is the right one.
Talking to an advisor can help direct one in the right direction in which classes to take, and advisors can also “highlight courses that might excite you” (Choosing a Major, princetonreview.com). Also since most classes for majors are required, this task is easier than one would think because one just needs to follow the university’s requirements.
Internships and BeyondEdit
Along with taking the right classes, internships are also a very significant choice in a college career because they help solidify a choice in major. Not only do internships help college students solidify their choice in major, but they also give them a rough idea of what the “real” world has to hold. Internships help students “find out how to prepare for a career in a specific field” (Internships, career.uga.edu), which is highly beneficial because it slowly transitions people from students to employees without blind-siding them completely.
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Gregoire, Katherine. "Major Interview." Personal interview. 24 Oct. 2011.