What to Look for When Choosing a Major

According to the U.S. government, college graduates can expect to earn almost twice as much money as high school graduates over the course of their working lives. Because of this, getting a college education is often one of the most critical aspects of long-term success. While most people understand the importance of getting some kind of college degree, they often have trouble narrowing down their options and selecting a single area of study. If you find yourself having difficulty choosing a major, a few different factors must be evaluated before making a decision.

Getting Started

When making this decision, you must first evaluate your own preferences and desires. Determine what it is that you enjoy doing and relate this to a particular area of study. If you are interested in many different areas of study, make a list and try to narrow it down to the top three to five choices. Your own desires are one of the most important factors to consider. Do not choose a career simply because you think it pays well. You must enjoy what you're doing or you will eventually get tired of it. When evaluating your options, you'll need to consider several aspects including:

  1. Your level of interest
  2. Your skill level
  3. How challenging the major would be
  4. Long-term potential

If you're struggling for ideas, consider taking a self-assessment exam. These exams are available online and are sometimes offered by guidance counselors. This type of exam will ask a series of questions designed to determine what subjects you may excel at. After taking a self-assessment exam, you may be able to narrow down your options even further.

Career Paths

After determining what you may be good at and what you enjoy, you'll also need to look at the long-term viability of the career path. Do some research to find out what types of jobs you could engage in after obtaining your chosen degree. Some degrees are better than others when it comes to providing multiple job options. For example, getting a degree in anthropology will provide you with a very limited number of career options, while getting a degree in general business or marketing may leave the door wide open for you. If you are unsure of exactly what you want to do, it is sometimes better to choose a more general area of study so as not to limit your options after graduation.

Job Growth

Another factor to consider when choosing a major is the number of jobs that are available once you get out of school. Some areas have an abundance of jobs available once you graduate, while other fields are tougher to break into. For example, the healthcare field appears to be growing and will have many jobs available for years to come. By comparison, some areas may not be hiring when you get out of school. To gauge expected job growth, look up your profession on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. The BLS provides detailed assessments of what they expect for job growth in nearly every profession over the next several years. While this should not be the only factor to look at when choosing a major, it should play into your decision in some capacity. If you enjoy two or three different fields, you may want to lean more towards the one that has an abundance of jobs available.


When narrowing down your options for a college major, the projected income of your future profession should also be considered. This information can also be obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While income should definitely not be the only factor to evaluate when choosing a profession, it may help make the decision for you. If you enjoy two or three different areas equally and jobs are plentiful in all, the income may help you decide. With all other things being equal, having a higher income can definitely be helpful.

With that being said, income alone should not motivate you to choose a particular career. Many people spend their time studying for a career simply because it pays well and has good benefits. Then after working in that field for a few years, they get burnt out because they do not enjoy what they're doing. Choose a major because you enjoy the material and not only because it offers the potential for higher pay.

Making the Decision

After looking at the future job data, earnings potential and your personal preferences, it's time to make the decision. Complete the appropriate paperwork with your school to declare your major. This may require you to consult with your advisor or counselor to complete the process. At that point, you'll begin choosing the courses that you'll need to complete your degree program. Typically, once the decision is made, it provides some relief and allows you to focus on the task at hand.

Author Bio: Cindy L. is a homemaker, wife, and mother to three children. In Cindy's spare time, she enjoys helping her friends and family save money on their car insurance.

Categories: College Life   Tags: choosing a major, how to choose a major, choosing a college major, choose major, choose a major