Many students get confused while selecting their major, particularly if they have multiple interests or are unsure of the career path they want to pursue or undertake. According to the 2021 CollegeDegree study, three out of every five college graduates would switch academic programs if they could go back in time.  

There are several things you should consider before deciding on a major course. It includes factors like program cost, employment rates, and salary expectations in that field. Also, you should take into account your personality, professional and personal goals, and interests.

Including these factors into your decision process can help you select a major that corresponds to your values, mission, and passions.

Six Crucial Things to Consider When Selecting a Major

Selecting the right major is an essential step in your academic progress, so don’t rush into it. Below are six things to consider before deciding on a major. 

1) What are your top priorities?

Some students choose majors primarily based on job opportunities and potential earnings. Alternatively, other students pursue specific majors in which they are interested or have skills. Before selecting a major subject, evaluate which of these three elements— economic benefits, interests, and ability — are relevant to you and your career goals. 

2) What are your interests?

Studies have shown that students who select their preferred majors outperform those who enrolled in the random course and cannot identify their interests. 

To get help recognizing your interests, consider taking an aptitude test. For example, the “Myers-Briggs Type” personality indicator questionnaire can help you determine courses that are closely related to your interests and personality. 

This popular examination uses your attitudes and habits to assign you one of 16 personality types, typically represented by four letters or characters. Examples include ENTP (extroverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving) and ISFJ (introverted, sensing, feeling, and judging). 

You can also learn about different study courses and their potential career paths by participating in student organizations, volunteering, managing a side business, working part-time on campus, or completing internships. 

3) What are your key strengths?

Understanding your natural abilities and talents is extremely important as it will help you enroll in a program that best matches your strengths and interests. It might be your parents’ dream to see you as an artist, but what if you want to become a businessman or scientist? Just because someone has a career path in mind does not mean it is appropriate for you. 

One of the best ways to determine the type of academic field that suits you is to examine your class grades in higher secondary schools and your SAT or ACT scores. This can draw attention to your academic strengths in specific areas. 

4) What are the highest-paying professions?

It is essential to consider salary and future employment opportunities if you are studying just for earning purposes. Suppose you are motivated by higher income. In that situation, you may be interested in pursuing a degree in a STEM-related field. 

Nevertheless, some students are more concerned with the importance of their position than with the salary offered; they do not want a job solely for the sake of the money. Non-STEM courses that students are optimistic about include human services, education, and visual or performing arts. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a regularly updated list of the jobs offering the highest salaries. Psychiatrists rank first in this list, as do gynecologists and obstetricians, oral surgeons, and general internal medicine physicians. Other high-paying jobs outside of medicine and healthcare include chief executive officer, airline pilot, computer and information systems manager, architectural and engineering manager, and marketing manager.

5) How demanding will the coursework be?

Some majors may seem more difficult than others based on their typical homework load, frequency of exams, and course expectations. Your core classes (those directly related to your major) will account for a sizable portion of your college course load. So, before committing to a major, make sure you completely understand how demanding your weekly workload will be. 

The National Survey of Student’s Engagement, conducted by Indiana University Bloomington in 2016, determined the most demanding programs based on the total time students spent preparing for classes each week. The most difficult majors include architecture, aeronautical engineering, and chemical engineering. Easy programs, which typically require less preparation time, include communication, criminal justice, and public relations courses.

6) What does your college counselor say?

We advise students to check in with their professors before committing to any major. They’ve had similar discussions with hundreds of scholars and can offer valuable advice on choosing a major. Your academic advisor may even suggest a major you had not previously considered that would meet your academic and professional goals. 

When speaking with a college counselor, keep in mind that their time is precious and limited. So, try to bring the list of thoughtful questions to the meeting. 

Should you major in two subjects in college?

Undergraduate students are not limited to a single field of study. Most universities and colleges allow students to register in two or three majors at a time. Typically, scholars who double major select two areas of study that complement one another; however, you are not required to do so.

For example, students who want to work in international business may pursue a double major in business administration and a foreign language. 

Other common major combinations include:

  • Engineering and mathematics.
  • Accounting and finance.
  • Criminal justice and psychology.
  • Political science and philosophy.

If your class schedule doesn’t allow you to pursue two majors, you can also choose a minor in a secondary course that interests you. 

What if you want to create your own major or program?

Recognizing that many students have specific interests and professional goals, several universities now allow students to create their interdisciplinary majors. If you’re thinking about taking this route, you should carefully review existing majors to ensure that no existing programs meet your requirements. 

Next, you must consider whether your designed individual major program will match your current and future career goals. 

Finally, you should consult with your advisor to determine which classes to include in your curriculum. You can also talk to other students who have designed their majors to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of this option. 

Some examples of student-designed programs include music & technology, marketing psychology, and public education history. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Selecting a Major 

When is it necessary to declare a program or major?

It depends on your school. Some scholars declare a major in their first year, while others decide after completing their junior year. Individual departments may have their regulations and rules, so be sure to inquire before selecting any major subject.

What should you do if you cannot decide on or find difficulty in selecting a major?

If you are unable to select a major, you have several options. First, you can take classes or sessions from different disciplines to narrow your choices. Then, meet with your academic advisor to discuss the pros and cons of the program options you are considering. 

Can you switch your major?

Yes, you can change your program at any time. But if you take a significant number of courses related to one program and then switch to a different program. In that case, you will need to stay longer in school to meet the credit hour requirements of your new program.

Is it a bad sign if you apply to colleges with an undecided major? 

Certainly not. Colleges want students to consider their options carefully and not rush into programs if they are unsure.