How to Choose a College Major

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how to choose a college major

Choosing a College Major

Strengths and Passions Lead to the Right Career Path

Some people seem to have been born knowing what they want to be when they grow up. They stick to their dreams and get the degree or certification they’ve always wanted. Choosing a college major is simple for those kinds of people, but not everyone is so decisive. If you have no idea which career path to pursue, you may feel anxious or even depressed. However, you’re not alone. Almost half of all college students have no clear-cut decision as to which career field to pursue.

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College Advice: What Really Motivates You?

Follow Your Passion When Picking a College Major

Study What You Love

Your everyday choices provide clues to help you determine your career path. If you naturally gravitate toward a certain field, finding a job in that industry may fulfill your calling. Base your program of study on your likes and interests — but also consider your strengths.

For example, if you often babysit your friends’ or family’s children, you probably enjoy kids. You love to participate in their projects, read to them, and make them feel better about themselves. Perhaps you should consider a college major in childhood development. This curriculum opens opportunities in career fields such as teaching, speech-language pathology, or school administration. All these positions allow you to fulfill your love for children while performing meaningful work.

Build on Your Skills

If possible, blend both your skills and your interests. Combine your love of animals, for instance, with a strong background in biology, chemistry, and physics, with a degree in veterinary science. The field encompasses specialists in a variety of areas, from pathologists to large animal doctors and aquatic veterinarians. All these positions require good business skills, a strong academic record, and excellent interpersonal skills.

Consider All the Obstacles

However, a veterinary science degree means years of additional advanced math and science classes. The classes, including zoology, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, and animal science, among others, are difficult. Additionally, you may encounter other obstacles. Veterinary schools are highly competitive. Admissions committees typically look for undergraduate students with several years of veterinary technician experience or the like. Successful admission may mean rejections from multiple schools or even study abroad. Be prepared for any potential obstacles when deciding on a major.

Use your dreams and life experience, combined with your skill set, to help determine your field of study. Make sure you base your choice on your dreams and interests, not those of a friend or parent. Doing so ensures you overcome any possible roadblocks that may come between you and obtaining your degree.

You Can’t Dismiss Your Interests

No Matter How You Think They Won’t Help Choose a College Major or Career

What Makes You Unique?

Although you may think your dream career involves a degree that no college offers, consider alternative means to get the necessary background. You may want to pursue art, music, fiction or poetry writing, comic book or graphic novels illustration, or even stand-up comedy. For almost any interest or passion, a college major, certification, or degree program exists. These programs give you the opportunity to pursue your dream, no matter how seemingly unrealistic.

If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It

Of course, a degree in music, creative writing, graphic design, painting, or performing arts doesn’t mean you’ll become the next Bono, J.K. Rowling, Stan Lee, or Ellen Degeneres. To pursue a career in one of these fields, you may have to start small. Choose a degree in an area relative to your skill set and interests, such as literature, rhetoric, fine arts, or performing arts. If that seems too scary or risky, obtain a general liberal arts degree. Use your junior and senior years to take classes in drawing, painting, acting, film, or interpretive dance. Find the courses that offer additional insight into your interests.

Get a Solid Foundation

When choosing your “core classes,” select critical reading and writing to obtain a rock-solid base. From there, go on to create your unique style and approach. You can bend or even break the rules once you have a thorough understanding of them. Every degree requires basic reading comprehension and communication skills.

Start Small, End Big

You may have to begin your career in a job related to your true career goal. For instance, your first job in music may be as a roadie for a band. Drafting copy for an auto mechanic website may jump-start your fiction writing career. Instead of fine art painting, you may work in a graphic design shop. A sound booth may be your entry job to the stage. However, all these jobs can pave the road to your future. However, even if you work in these kinds of industries for a long time, you almost certainly will move up in rank. More importantly, you will have medical insurance, vacation time, stock options, a 401(k), and so on. If you dedicate yourself to your passion, you’ll find time to record a country song, write a fiction novel, or practice your comedy routine.

Ask Around

Spend a summer or two as an intern in your dream career field. Speak with your university advisor, but also talk directly to professionals in the field. Find fellow students who are following the course of study you are considering. Ask them what they like or dislike about their majors. If you find recent graduates with your major, ask them if they thought it was worth it.

Be Open to Change

However, if you wake up one day and realize you no longer love your chosen field, don’t be afraid to change your career path. Switch your major and work toward a different degree. Changing may slow you down for a semester or two, but it’s better than spending the rest of your life in the wrong job.

As the adage goes, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” It’s more important to love what you do than work in a field that makes your parents proud or impresses your friends. People who do what they love are happier and healthier, and they inspire those around them.

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