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choosing a college major

Career Other

3 Tips to Help New Students Decide Their Major

March 16, 2020

You’ve just arrived at college. Between the endless activities, free time and paths to choose for yourself, you are immediately bombarded with a plethora of choices to make. How do your study habits change? How do you make sure you get along with your roommate? How will you make friends? However, the most important one is a choice that centers on your education: your major. There can be a ton of pressure when choosing a major from friends and family, not to mention your own dreams of what field you’d like to work in after graduation. Here are three tips for helping new students decide their major. 

Consider Your Skills

When choosing a major, it’s easy to default right away to what you think will end up making you the most money. Everyone has occasional dreams of financial grandeur, and tying that into your decision of what to major in seems like a reasonable choice. However, make sure that when picking your major, you consider where your main skills and interests are. If you don’t have the passion for accounting but are a magnificent writer, think about how perfecting your writing to an elite level via an English major could pay off for you in the long run, versus merely being an average accountant. Sometimes, the “smart” choice in choosing a major isn’t necessarily the one that traditionally would earn you the most money. It’s the one where you can excel and perform at a high level. 

Think About After Graduation

When choosing a major, you’ll obviously want to keep what exactly it is that you want to do after graduation in the front of your mind. If you want to go right into the business world, a major that gives you a solid business background would be preferred. If you’re thinking about taking a gap year and then going to graduate school, a major that you think would help you perform well in your post-secondary education would be a smart move. While you certainly don’t have to be sure of what you want to do after graduation, you can think about a general field you wouldn’t mind having a job in and see if your education can inspire greater interest in the topic. 

Don’t Rush It

When you arrive at school, it may seem like you have to decide on a major as quickly as possible so you can start classes and tell friends and family about the direction you have. But don’t make the mistake of declaring a major just for the sake of declaring a major. Take your time to work through the different possibilities of what you could specialize in your head before making the decision. The last thing you want is to regret rushing to declare a major in a year when you’re in the thick of classes and it’s too late to switch. Think through what you really want out of your college experience, and then use that to guide your choice.

Choosing a college major is a high-pressure situation. However, if you consider what your skills are, think about what you want to do after graduation and don’t rush into making the choice, you can be sure that you’re making a choice that you can be confident in. Once you pick your major, you’ll be free to dive into your studies and enjoy all that the college experience has to offer.

Other Transition

The 4 Most Make-or-Break-It Factors When Choosing a College

November 4, 2019

There’s a lot to consider when choosing your future alma mater. Is attending a big, football-happy university a priority for you? What about a smaller, more intimate liberal arts school? Do you prefer a college town over a big city? There are dozens of factors to think about when shopping around for colleges. Here are five things to consider when choosing where you want to get your degree:  

#1. School Size 

When contemplating a small, medium, or large-sized college or university, consider how your future college’s size will affect your ability to meet people. Does it have fraternities and sororities, or another way of meeting people? Does it offer any clubs and team sports that interest you?

School size also affects class size, and class size affects how well you learn. If you do well in smaller-sized classes, look at colleges with smaller professor to student ratios. If you’d prefer to try your hand in big-hall lecture-style classes, consider a larger school. 

#2. Campus 

Is your heart set on a beach campus, or do you want to attend class in the middle of the city? Some future college students couldn’t care less about where they spend their all-nighters. Others are set on studying at the most buzz-worthy campuses. But consider things beyond city size. What’s your preferred type of weather? If you grew up in Arizona and hate the cold, you probably won’t love Vermont and Alaska’s winter. If you’re looking to ski in-between classes, we don’t recommend going to Hawaii. Choose a school with a location where you can see yourself living comfortably.

#3. Major 

Does your dream school have a good program for your major? Does it even offer it? It’s easy to get wrapped up in a school’s social scene and instagramability, but don’t forget to look at its programs. For example, if you’re set on becoming a doctor, make sure your school offers a pathway to medical school. If a school doesn’t offer your desired major, see if there’s an alternative way of reaching your end goal.

Keep in mind, 80% of college students change their major at least once, so don’t limit your college choice based on your future degree—especially if you think you might pivot your studies at some point. 

#4. Cost

College debt: two words that strike fear into every ramen-eating, penny-pinching college student. If a college’s tuition cost is well beyond what you can handle, don’t go into debt chasing a fun college experience. 

Here are three ways to cut down on tuition costs: 

Look into scholarships. 

Every school offers scholarships—and they’re not all athletic or academic-based. Ask schools about the scholarships they offer, and look into state and federal scholarships and awards. 

Apply for FAFSA (free application for federal student aid). 

If you’re a US citizen with a valid social security number, you can apply for a federal loan. FAFSA also includes grants and work-study programs.  

Save money. 

Put money into a savings account while you’re in high school and save money where you can while you’re in college. The faster you pay off your student loans, the less time it has to appreciate. Remember: debt is frustrating no matter what stage of life you’re in, but luckily there are ways to manage your student debt.

In addition to worrying about pesky student debt, you also need to think about how you’ll get by as a student. Is rent pricey or feasible in your college town? What about the fuel costs? 

Consider the Big Picture 

Beyond cost, school size, campus, and academics remember that there’s a slew of even more things to consider when choosing the right school. A college’s greek life, class count, and campus are weighty factors to consider when you’re shopping around for colleges—but don’t let it be the only factors you consider. Remember to find the fit that is right for you; these are the best 4 years of your life, so make the most of it with a place you really enjoy being at.

BIO: Bailey Caldwell is a freelance journalist whose work focuses on all things tech, cybersecurity, and the internet. She enjoys researching and learning about new resources and technologies.

Career Other

It’s OK to be Doubtful About Your College Major Choice

August 4, 2016

Some obvious and rather scary thoughts you may feel when you step foot onto your new digs for the next four years of your life may consist of fear, panic, excitement, joy, and/or doubt. As a matriculating sophomore, I understand your position and you should know that it’s okay

Keep these tips in mind when deciding on a major:

  • Remember: you are not married to your major! If you have room in your schedule, make sure to take classes that correspond with your interests and hobbies. These classes may help you understand what direction you’d like your career to go. Alternatively, if you’re already on a set path, these classes may give you a mental breather during the week.
  • Understand the college or university you’re deciding upon. A liberal arts education is “an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change.” A college that focuses on this type of approach typically facilitates a “close interaction with faculty and students.” Whereas STEM majors are becoming an “ever-present part of life throughout the world,” those fields are becoming more and more important. Which means career opportunities for students will be unlimited in any of these fields.
  • Strive to make a wise decision when choosing a college major. There is more than enough opportunity to change your major or pursue other careers in the future. A recent study conducted by CareerBuilder suggests “that plenty of Americans never work in the field that they prepared for in college.” This statistic may seem alarming, but reminding yourself of it can help take some of the pressure off.
  • Make sure you take you time in your decision, understanding yourself and what you want before choosing a major. Put your happiness and passions first.