5 Stress-Free Tips to Choosing a College Major

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5 Simple Stress Free Tips to Choosing a College MajorAn Article by contributor Karleia Steiner.

Declaring a college major is an important step for many students to move closer to beginning their professional career. However, there are many college majors available, and choosing the right major can often be a stressful decision for many prospective college students. This guide will help you choose a college major without all the added stress, by providing you with five simple stress-free tips. 

1. Take a Career Quiz 

The first step in choosing a college major is knowing what you want to do once you graduate. Having an end goal will make it easier to see which path to take, so having some idea of an ideal occupation will make choosing a major that much easier. Career inventories, like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Strong Interest Inventory (SII or Strong) are multiple choice tests that produce information on your personality, how you process information and interact with others. It then shows careers that other test takers with similar results pursued and enjoyed. Remember, these tests are not deterministic. Just because you’re a certain type now, doesn’t mean you will stay the same over time, or that the jobs produced are the only jobs you’ll enjoy or thrive at. Career inventories give a rough idea of possible career paths, and having an idea of some occupations that might fit you can be a beneficial first step in choosing a  major.

2. Do Career Research 

Once you’ve picked a few possible career options, it’s important to research the careers and determine what aspects of a career are important to you. If you will need a certain salary range, can these careers realistically provide that? Will you need to relocate to areas where these types of jobs are more plentiful? Which careers have the potential for long term growth or stability? What do you need out of a career, and will your choices provide that?

Also spend some time researching the education path for each career. Is a Masters required? PhD? What certifications or licenses are there? Are there dedicated majors required, or can you piecemeal one together? Knowing the amount of education, and the path you’ll need to take can help you narrow down your prospective career choices.

3. Talk to Someone in Your Prospective Field

Once you’ve picked one or two careers that you are really interested in, try and find employers or employees that work in your field of interest. Ask a teacher, counselor or family member if they know anyone in your desired field. Reach out to professionals on LinkedIn or other professional networking sites, and use your informational interviewing skills to pick their brains: how did they get to where they are, what would they suggest for someone thinking of going into their field, what do they wish they had known going in, etc… 

4. Talk to College Representatives 

The next step in choosing a college major is to find colleges that offer majors you are interested in and gather information about the majors as far as whether they’re 2 year programs, 4 year programs, or longer. Some majors can easily be obtained as well, such as an online masters in electrical engineering. Find out if a minor is required, and if so, what the options for minors are. Request to speak to professors and students if possible to determine what their experiences with the major have been, any recommendations they may have, as well as thoughts on job prospects. 

5. Put Everything Together 

Once you’ve gone through all of the previous steps, you should have a list narrowed down to one, two, or three options. Look at the differences in average pay, the curriculum, the time it takes to earn the associated degree, and tuition differences. Combining this data together and looking at the notes you’ve taken can help you easily pick your major. Taking your time, doing your homework, and making careful informed decisions can take most of the stress out of choosing a major.

 


About the Author

Esme Smith

Esme received her M.A. In Counseling from St. Edward's University, and worked with students at Concordia University Texas' Career Center. She developed a passion for Career Counseling after leaving undergrad without much guidance, and grappling with unsatisfying work. She strives to help others bridge the gap between graduation and "the real world."

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