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what are the most important things to consider when choosing a major?

I'm indecisive about my major and I just want some advice that'd help me choose the right one for myself and my future. college major

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Yogesh’s Answer

This is very important question as it is going to impact a lot of future choices! Back when I was in college, my choice was driven by a few factors 1. My interests 2. areas that I'm good at 3. current and future career opportunities where my interests and areas that I'm good at overlap and so on. Though I did not wrote them down back then but I had a few discussions with my peers and my seniors on this topic. Sometimes, you would want to know what would be a typical day in a life of a people working in the field of your choice looks like. You might also be interested in knowing whether you can handle the subject matter, if that excites you or puts you off, will it be interesting for you to keep up even if it is challenging at some point, do you understand the details of what you are going to study? Finding answers to questions like this will help you narrow down your choices. However, it is clear that it should be driven by your interest and ability.
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Chanyce’s Answer

Hi Isabelle! If you're just starting out at college, I'd recommend taking a few intro classes in different majors that you think you might be interested in, to see if anything sparks your interest. As a Freshman, I knew I wanted to study art, but after taking an Introduction to Interpersonal Communication class, I realized that I was also passionate about communication and eventually decided to add it as a second major! I also looked into graphic design, journalism, and art history. I have never regretted studying my passions and now work in a role that uses skills I built in both of my majors!

When I was in school, I spent a lot of time stressing about making the "right" choice on a major. I was so worried that I would choose the wrong thing and never end up getting a job! Something my academic advisor shared that I found really helpful was that many people change careers throughout their lifetime, and it's very possible that the career choice I made in school may not be where I say forever. Getting a degree opens up a lot of different job opportunities, even outside your major, if you are able to speak to the transferrable skills, like critical thinking, in an interview. That lifted a lot of weight off of my shoulders and I hope it does for you too!

Thank you for the help! Isabelle H.

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Allie’s Answer

Hi Isabelle! Picking a major can be very stressful, and I understand that you are looking to make the "right" choice. I believe it is important to look into what skills you are looking to gain from your college experience. At the end of the day, the skills that you gain are going to be more important than what your actual major was.

For example, I have a Bachelors of Fine Art from a private art school in Detroit, MI. My major was photography and I had a minor in Art Therapy. I am currently building my career in the communications and marketing space. When I was in college, I would have never guessed that I would end up working in the communications field, but when I took a step back after college, it all made sense. In college, I focused on how to communicate and get a message across through art and photography. I learned how to communicate with clients, promote myself as an artist, and learn how to express an idea through photography. Without this experience, I wouldn't be able to help communicate in the "corporate world" and support marketing campaigns.

I also suggest to utilize any career services that are available to you at your school. School counselors are a great resource that I wish I utilized more. They will be able to help you find resources and guide you to what you are looking for.

Just remember, it is what experiences and skills you build in school that will help you figure out what you want to do when you are done with school.

Good luck!

Thank you for the response! Isabelle H.

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Keith’s Answer

A college education is an investment in yourself and your future. You will be spend a great deal of money and possibly go into debt to get an education. You can follow your interests and explore new ones in college but you should also think about where you will be once you graduate. Will you have a marketable skill? Is that skill in demand? Check online job boards to see how many opportunities are posted for people with the same credentials and what those jobs pay at various levels of experience. Your education should be a good investment. Ask others, including teachers, what kind of jobs are available with the degree you are pursuing.

Your career may follow a completely different path than you may have planned so it helps to have a range of skills and knowledge. I worked in technology and several of my co-workers came out of college with Music majors. They started doing a small amount of technology work and, over time, this became their career path. Music was still a passion for them and they pursued this interest outside of work.

Almost any modern job for college graduate will use information technology in some way. Even if your career path is not in technology itself, taking a few classes related to information technology will prepare you for the future. Having some background in this area may differentiate your resume from the competition. When you graduate college with a degree you will be competing with others that have the same degree. Your resume needs to have some differentiation that will make it stand out.
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Abigail’s Answer

I agree with many of the answers above. Just know that you don't have to have all the answers and you may have to explore. Some colleges encourage exploration more than others and it can depend on the major how quickly you should decide. One consideration to keep in mind though is that for certain majors, it can take a decent amount of semesters/quarters to get through the material. So if you land in a hefty major after some exploration, it can impact how much time and money it will take to get to graduation. More directly, delaying the choice of a major can cost you more money. But not all the time and it depends on where you finally land.

Setting aside concerns of time and money, philosophically, I would recommend choosing something you find deeply interesting. Your reasons for something being interesting are yours alone. If you are interested in a major that will make you a lot of money someday, go for it as long as you're interested enough to do the work and do it well! If you love a major that is not considered a "career track" but you truly love it, I say go for it. There's some career researchers out there saying, for example, that creative and liberal arts majors can lead to more lucrative careers than you might expect. Also, these majors teach skills that can't necessarily be automated or addressed through tech. Therefore, there's a possibility that careers that require novel thinking, artistic and creative skills will increase in value. I don't know if that's guesswork or not but I've linked to an article below from a labor market data company that studies the connection between majors, skills, and job outlook.

https://www.economicmodeling.com/2019/01/15/the-real-long-term-labor-market-outcomes-of-liberal-arts-grads/

For what it's worth, your exact major may or may not be as critical to employers as the skills that you've developed in the process. It might be worth reframing the question of majors into what kind of skills you want to build. Then, knowing that, go back to your list of potential majors and see which align with those skills you want to build.

Personally, I probably didn't think enough about the impact of my decision of majors. I wouldn't say that I got the most "useful" major. That said, my language major and liberal arts minor allowed me to live abroad, develop strong communication skills, and see myself in many careers. That has it's plusses and minuses but overall it has worked for me.

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Ryan’s Answer

Hi Isabelle. I would recommend that you focus your major on what you are truly passionate about, and then work hard to have the best academic outcome. It is important to make sure you pick up skills that are increasingly in demand such as critical thinking, computer fluency, math, and communication. However, you will find that if you center your studies on your passion you will excel in school. This will open up opportunities in the future in areas that might not be obvious today. Also, once you enter the working world, you will want to be in a position to continue to follow your passion.
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Daniel’s Answer

To add to the great answers already provided, I highly suggest finding ways to get involved in the area of study or field of the major you have interest in to see how it feels to practice it in real-life. For example: try an internship, a practicum, a meet-up group, etc.
This is a great way to determine quickly if it would be a fit for you as a career before devoting a semester, year or full education to a major only to find out you don't really like it.

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Harlie’s Answer

When choosing a major, the best thing for you to do is to keep an open mind: Take classes out of your comfort zone, do something you never heard of. As you go through college, you will learn what you are interested in, and what your ARENT interested in, which is equally important. Once you have an idea of what you like, deep dive into possible careers with your interests, talk to career counselors, friends, etc.
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Jason’s Answer

Go with your interest as the first selection criteria. Ultimately that's the best way to go about it because you want to do things that you are interested in, and you will be actively engaged.

The worst thing is to find something you don't like, or just because it "pays well". Many have taken the latter path and it has become a never ending cycle of negativity, usually because they just don't find value or enjoyment.

Keep in mind that you can always make a great career out of anything, by doing something you enjoy as you will want to spend time and do well in that area.

Jason recommends the following next steps:

Research on topics or areas that you are interested in
Audit a class or two if you have time to see if that's really want you want to do
Ask students already in the major(s) and get their thoughts. Try to talk to a few and not just one for each major
Talk to career counselor in your school if you have one
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Mohd’s Answer

I would suggest you take up few internships to learn what the job/industry is about and go from there. You must enjoy what you do so working at a firm will definitely give you a sense of that. You should try different industries and not just the ones that you like because you might learn that you love something you never expected to. As an example I interned in many different roles such as marketing, merchandising, finance etc.
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