Deciding what to study in college is one of the most important choices a person will make. After all, your college major will likely shape both your academic and professional futures. But with so many options to choose from, how can you be sure you're making the right choice? It can be hard to know which major to choose, but it's worth taking the time to research all your options and find a major that's right for you.
Why Choosing a Major Is Important
Choosing a major is an important decision that can have a significant impact on your future. Not only will it affect your career prospects, but it can also influence the kind of lifestyle you lead and the people you associate with. Your job prospects and salary potential will vary widely by field of study, and some majors are more competitive than others. That's why it's important to carefully research different college majors before making a decision. By taking the time to choose a major wisely, students can set themselves up for success during and after college.
Can you change your major in college?
Of course! While you're earning your degree, you want to make sure you’re in a program that best suits you. Always keep in mind that it's okay to change majors after you make your initial selection.
What's the Difference Between Major, Minor, and Certificate?
One of the first decisions you'll have to make is whether to pursue a major, minor, or certificate. What's the difference? A major is the main focus of your studies. It will make up the majority of your credits, and you'll likely complete a capstone project or thesis in your senior year.
A minor is a secondary field of study that you can pursue to complement your major. For example, if you are studying architecture as your major, you might minor in construction management. Minors typically consist of fewer courses than majors and may not require a capstone project.
Finally, a certificate is a shorter program of study that takes one or two years to complete. Certificates usually focus on specific skill sets or occupations and may not need as much coursework as a college major or minor. For example, many schools offer certificates in areas like information technology infrastructure or health services management.
How to Choose a Major
To help you figure out how to decide between majors, consider the following ten tips:
1. Consider What Your Interests Are
Your college major is one way to pursue your interests and turn them into a career. What are the things that you enjoy doing? What topics do you find yourself naturally drawn to? Do you like working on your own or prefer interacting with people? Do you like reading, writing, or doing math? Once you have a general idea of what interests you, you can start looking at majors along those interests. For example, if you're interested in technology, consider a major in IT. If you're interested in math and science, you might want to look at engineering or biology. By taking the time to consider your interests, you can narrow down your options and make the decision-making process easier.
2. Consider Your Passions
Another place to start is by examining your passions. Passions put a fire in your belly and a drive in your heart. Do you love helping people? A major related to the health care field could be a good fit. Are you passionate about the environment? A degree in environmental science or ecology could help you work toward meaningful change. Do you love animals? A degree in nonprofit management could help you lead at an animal shelter. If you have something you're passionate about, pursuing a major in a relevant field is one of the most effective steps you can take to position yourself as a change-maker.
3. Educate Yourself on All Available Majors
Take some time to educate yourself on all your options. Research different majors and learn about the careers they can lead to. By doing some research, you can begin to cut some of the majors that are not a good fit for you. The more you know about your options, the easier it will be to choose the right major.
4. Think About Your Strengths
One way to narrow down your choices is to think about your strengths. What are you good at? What comes easily to you? Choosing a major that plays to your strengths can help you succeed in college and beyond.
5. Seek Out Help from a Mentor
A mentor is someone who has experience in the field and can offer guidance and advice. They can provide information based on their experience and help you identify your interests and strengths. They can help you explore different majors and careers and offer insight into what it takes to succeed in various fields. If you don't have a mentor, try reaching out to your family, friends, or your school's career center. By talking with a mentor, you can better understand your options and make an informed decision about your future.
6. Consider the Anticipated Demand for Professionals with Various Majors
When choosing a college major, thinking about the future is crucial. What kinds of jobs will be in demand when you graduate? What is the anticipated demand for professionals in a particular field? Some majors are in high demand, and many jobs are available, while others are in decline, with fewer opportunities. For example, if you're interested in nursing, you'll be happy to know that the demand for nurses is expected to increase in the coming years. Evaluating the job market before choosing a major can help ensure that you have a successful career after graduation.
7. Talk to Other Students About Their Majors
One of the best ways to choose a major is to talk to other college students about their majors. This can help you learn about the different types of majors available and what each entails. Hearing firsthand about the experiences of other students can give you valuable insights into what each major has to offer. Talking to other students can help you identify your own interests and passions. If you know someone majoring in something you're interested in, ask them about their experiences and whether they'd recommend it.
8. Talk to Your Family and Friends
It can be helpful to talk to your friends and family members about what they think would be a good fit for you. They may offer insights into what you're good at and what you're interested in that you didn't consider. They could know of some resources that you didn't even know existed. They might have majored in a subject you're considering and can offer advice or could share their experiences in the workforce. With their help, you'll understand what majors are in demand and may lead to fulfilling careers.
9. Take Intro Classes for Majors You're Interested In
Taking an introductory class will allow you to sample the coursework and get a feel for the subject matter. Intro classes can provide an overview of the career paths available for graduates of that major. As a result, they can be a great way to learn about majors you're considering, to make an informed decision about which one is right for you.
10. Speak to an Advisor Who Can Create a Major Tailored to You
At the University of Minnesota College of Continuing and Professional Studies, an advisor can help you create a major tailored to your interests and ambitions. Advisors have a wealth of experience and knowledge about the various majors offered at the school. They can help you identify which ones might be the best fit for you or to create a customized major that combines elements of several disciplines. This type of major can be particularly beneficial if you have specific career goals in mind. By working with an advisor, you can ensure that you choose a major that will help you achieve your long-term objectives.
Learn More Today
Explore how to design your own degree at the University of Minnesota College of Continuing and Professional Studies. Our advisors are ready to help you choose a major, apply, and pick the right courses that meet your unique goals.