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Choosing a college major

Updated on March 7, 2009

How do you choose your college major?

Whether or not you think you know what you want to do with your life, I strongly suggest waiting to choose a college major.

A lot of young adults think they know what they want out of life, and simply put, what you value and want out of life at this stage won't be what you value and want 5 or 10 years from now. You have a lot to learn about the workings of the world, and the worst you can do is to decide on a set path for life before your early 20's.

That said, you still need to select a major at some point. If your college allows it, I would suggest going undeclared your first year, and while taking your core requirements, sampling classes in majors you may be interested in. The worst thing you could do is select a major sight unseen, only to jump in next quarter/semester and find you hate the material, hate the department or hate the classes. If you don't like the experience of the major, you're probably not going to like the field your major and degree applies to.

If, after a year or two of study, you're still undecided on a major, or you find you like several fields, but your interests are too numerous to suitably double major, then pick a general or neutral one. Earn your degree in humanities or in liberal arts. This will allow you to study a variety of subjects and give you a well-rounded education.

See, I have a secret for you: save for specialized fields like medicine and law or specialized positions, the actual subject of your degree rarely matters. When seeking employees, most employers aren't looking for a specific Bachelor's degree. They just want to see that you have one, that you've put forth the dedicated work to earn a degree, as such a work ethic and the demonstrated critical thinking it involves is a strong professional quality.

And in the cases where the type of degree does matter, assuming you later find a potential career you really want that requires it... the required job often requires a post-graduate Master's degree and schooling beyond a Bachelor's degree anyway. You can simply study the field of your choice in graduate school. If a Bachelor's is all you need, it's usually simple to return or remain in school, enter the necessary major and earn the necessary credits, since you will have fulfilled most of the basic requirements already.

Don't put too much pressure on yourself to pick the perfect major, because your idea of perfect at 18-20 won't be your idea of perfect at 23, 25, 30 or beyond. And by your mid to late 20's, you may find that 'perfect' isn't really what you want after all. By keeping your mind open to different possibilities and earning a degree that keeps possibilities open, it gives you an adaptability to seek out satisfying situations as your circumstances, goals and dreams change.


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      redwolf75 9 years ago

      Nice writeup Gomez. Quite reassuring for a college freshmen stressing out about his future direction and major.