How to Decide Which Major is Right For You

By: Judi Robinovitz | Last Updated: May 27, 2014

Choosing a major is a pivotal point in every college student's life. You might be swayed by the opinions of your parents, your friends or other professionals, but the only one that should decide what you'll be studying for the next four years is you. Selecting a major you'll enjoy that will in turn become a career you love is no easy feat. You could always leave things up to fate, use a flowchart or you could select a major by balancing passion with realism.

Know Thyself

Yes, you're about to hear what countless school advisers might have already told you. Knowing yourself is the first step to picking your major. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you really, really love doing? What can't you stand? If you're stumped, try asking those who know you well what kind of career they think matches your personality. Use these opinions only as a starting point, but remember not to base your decision solely on what others think. Another word of caution: even though you should follow your heart, it's always a good idea to research the demand level of the particular career you're interested in. Knowing if there is a market for your major can help you in the decision-making process.

Go Back to the Past

Can you remember what you used to love as a child? Maybe you really liked reading growing up. If that's the case, a degree in English, literature or journalism could be right for you. Alternatively, if you enjoyed (and still enjoy) helping others feel better, but don't like the idea of becoming a doctor, a pharmacy technician certificate from an online school like Penn Foster could be a great option. Thinking back to what you used to enjoy in your early years is the best way to remain unbiased and choose a major around something you've been interested in all your life.

Explore Other Options

Taking elective courses along with your basic requirements can expose you to new topics you might not have even known existed, says YouniversityTV. If you think Intro to Philosophy looks remotely interesting, go ahead and take it. You might not become a philosophy major, but the class itself might influence your career decisions in surprising ways. For example, PHI 101 typically goes over how to craft a convincing argument. This is a useful skill in any field and may even entice you to choose a major focused on making a difference in the world through verbal and written communication. Don't be afraid to use your first years of college to find yourself through learning.

Gain Real World Experience

While your college degree can influence your future, internships also affect your resume and career path, comments Teen Vogue. Additionally, an internship can give you a preview of what is to come. Your sophomore year of college is the best time to move from the classroom to the real-world; you'll have settled into your major and if you end up realizing you chose the wrong field you'll still have time to make some changes. On the other hand, an internship could help you realize you might be in the right industry but not doing the right job. For instance, if you're a Visual Arts major that interned as a photography assistant and felt that this wasn't the right fit, it's possible you would enjoy other venues such as graphic design, painting or drawing. Don't give up right away on your chosen major and find out if there are other positions you can intern for.

Topics: College Planning Educational Consulting


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