How To Choose a College Major

How To Choose a College Major

February 9, 2011  |  General Tips, How to

How To Choose a Major

From a Bachelor’s degree in psychology to a health care administration degree, choosing a college major isn’t always an easy task. For some it may indeed be as simple as making pancakes (if you consider that as simple) while for others it’s a tedious task filled with anguish and despair. This article will try to mitigate that anguish and quench it like water quenches the fire.

Where to begin?

The first and most obvious thing to consider when picking a major is what you’re main interest is. We all have one or two things that are very close to our hearts, things we dream about often and we find ourselves discussing relentlessly long into the night. If you’re unsure about what makes you feel like this, just simply ask your friends and family. If there are things that you’re passionate about, chances are that you speak about them a lot whether knowingly or unknowingly. This my friend is where we begin.

Money is funny

I would strongly advice against only looking at the financial aspect. Sure it is rather wise to ask whether or not your desired major has potentials to bring in the dough, however it is also prudent not be limited by the dollar sign. The number of people who have become blinded by this piece of paper is staggering, you do not want to find yourself working in a job you despise simply because the average salary for that occupation is 8 % higher than the occupation you would have preferred.

There are numerous sites that give you statistics on average salaries and there’s no need to mention them here. Just simply make a search for the term average salary and you’ll find enough to fill your belly. Do keep in mind though that these are only averages as the mathematician would be quick to point out. An average says very little about the disparity of the given sample so while an occupation such as medicine does indeed have a higher average salary than that of a software engineer for example. On the other hand the disparity is higher in the latter, i.e although most medicine majors make a high living some software engineers make an extremely high living. Forbes 100 richest list is filled with engineers and not doctors. The lesson being, if you are going to look at the money aspect you should look at it thoroughly.

In conclusion, look at the salary as a type of side dish and not the entree.

Examine Your Grades

Look back at your academic career and see which courses you scored the highest on. These are the ones that not only caught your interest but also the ones you’ve mastered. Although there is an obvious correlation between the courses that you received a high mark on and the ones you enjoy, this isn’t always the case. Post hoc ergo propter hoc, correlation doesn’t mean causation. There are things we are good at without enjoying doing it and things we aren’t very good at while having a burning passion for that subject. Don’t be afraid of the latter case, if you really like something and you find it difficult it could serve as an opportunity to step away from your safe zone and try something else for a matter. Don’t be afraid to chase things you like simply because they are difficult.

Cut once and measure twice

What ever you do don’t jump into a major too quickly without giving it proper consideration. You don’t want to feel bad about having to change later on. Make sure you do your research first and look at all the relevant options and then decide what major suits you the best. Also, don’t forget to ask your friends and family about advice. Who knows, they may have a thing or two to say that opens up new doors.

About the author

ABDERISAK ADAM is an author, blog writer and a PhD candidate in the institution of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology. He is also the owner and webmaster of, a website dedicated to the discussion of study techniques in the context of higher education. Adam is the author of a number of publications including 'The Study Guide PRO'. You can connect with him through Google+, Linkedin or by submitting a form.

1 Comment

  1. I am having the toughest time trying to choose a major for college. I live in Ohio and am hoping to stay local. There are a few different colleges with multiple programs that I am interested in. My parents have recommended that I look into the pre-professional programs because it will lead me right into grad school and then into a career immediately after graduation. I know most Ohio colleges have multiple pre-professional programs like Walsh, , but I am not sure which one to focus on. I am worried that if I get into a major that it will be too late to switch to another if I don’t like it. I am not excited about spending the next 6 years of my life in college which is making this decision even harder. Is there a point when it is too late to pick a major? I am planning to attend my Freshman year without a major but just focus on the pre-requisites.

    Thanks for your blog post. It was very helpful for me.


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