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How to Pick A College Major

Updated on February 8, 2009

College Major

There are so many different professions and careers to choose from, which all stem from a large number of different majors.

It can be rather overwelming when you first get into college, and your college advisor asks, "What will you be majoring in?" Many students don't know, and most don't choose a major until their second year of college.

Most college student change their major a number of times. I've heard stories where students will be the near end of their degree program and decide that they want to go a whole different route with their life.

Hey, that works for them. I wouldn't be able to put in all that time and effort to change at the last minute. That's why I opted not to start college until I had a major picked out. Well, actually I gave up and chose one of the majors that my dad threw out. It lasted a few semesters, before I decided I just didn't want a degree in radiology. Yes, a good profession, but it's just not me.

I was then back to square one and not taking classes anymore. When I finally chose 'business' as my major of choice, I started back into a new college and hit the books right away.

Choosing a Major

The one misconception that I had when choosing my major is that I needed to know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life before I chose a major. I felt that the I needed to choose a profession in order to pick my major. This is actually a misconception that many young people have.

You need to pick the major and let the profession find you.

...If that makes any sense...

By choosing a general major, business, I can go into a number of fields and hold a varied number of positions. I will let the decision of my profession and future career find me when it's ready. (Of course, that doesn't mean I won't be out seeking a future profession.)

When choosing a college major, most students don't realize that for the first year and a half to two years, you'll be taking preliminary courses that most college degree programs require. Basically, you'll be taking basic English, math, history, and science courses.

So, in reality, you have that time to choose a major that suits you and your personality.

Popular College Majors

The top ten most popular college majors include:

  1. Business Administration and Management
  2. Psychology
  3. Elementary Education
  4. Biology
  5. Nursing
  6. Education
  7. English
  8. Communications
  9. Computer Science
  10. Political Science

Other popular college majors include:

  • Mathematics
  • Chemistry
  • Engineering
  • Social Science
  • History
  • Criminal Justice

Suggestions to Picking a College Major

  • Looks through the college bulletin, highlighting classes that sound interesting. You may find a pattern.
  • Talk to your college advisor about the different majors that interest you.
  • Look for the syllabi for different majors because you may find more classes that interest you in one degree program versus in another.
  • Talk with upper- classmen about their majors. You may find that what they're studying sounds interesting. By talking to others further into their chosen degree program, you can find out what work they intend to do, what classes they have looked forward to, and what classes they have dreaded. You should hopefully find out how they channeled their interests in choosing their major.
  • Keep a list of careers that you may be interested in. Keep the list constant and update it regularly by cutting and adding different career options. You may be able to lead yourself into a major by looking at a list of careers you'd be interested in.
  • Talk to professional in the fields that you are interested in. Find out exactly what the job entails and how their job relates to what major they chose. This may enlighten your path by letting you see how professional chose their majors and how it has been involved in their career.
  • Pay close attention to what you like and enjoy. Consider the little things. If you find yourself often critiquing movies and commercials, maybe you'd be happy in a field of advertising.


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    • Sharp Points profile image

      Sharp Points 3 years ago from Big Bear Lake, California

      Thank you I have had a really hard time with this question. This is the best advice that I have read yet. Bookmarked this page, plan to read it again for sure. Voted up, great work!

    • profile image

      Jessica 6 years ago

      "You need to pick the major and let the profession find you."

      Yes, that makes SO much sense. I am in my third year and still undeclared, and I really believe that it's because I have been thinking profession-wise instead of major-wise. I am only now realizing how limiting it is to take that approach!

    • Leighsue profile image

      Leighsue 6 years ago

      When I first start college I did not have a major, just signed up for the courses that I liked. But as I progressed, it became clear that I would major in science. Godd hub, very informative.

    • GetSmart profile image

      GetSmart 6 years ago

      What a great hub! Thanks, I will be sharing this. :)

    • matthadley profile image

      matthadley 7 years ago

      Great Hub. As a college teacher I sometimes find my students uninterested in some of there college major's I think they lack the will because they choose a different major that they would aspire. Choosing a college major should be carefully thought of and taken to consideration especially that the educational system has been severely crippled due to the some families financial problems.

    • askjanbrass profile image

      askjanbrass 8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I think choosing a college major has become one of the greatest challenges for today's prospective students. There are so many different fields to choose from, and at times that can seem quite daunting.

      This was quite a good Hub. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • profile image

      Eiri 8 years ago

      This is so true. Before I transferred to a JC near home, I spent my first year of college at Mills College in Oakland. When I was in high school, I thought maybe something having to do with international relations would be right up my alley because I wanted to work overseas in Japan eventually. When I looked at the classes that I would have had to take at Mills though, none of them interested me, so I was back at square one. Since being back home and going to classes, I'm thinking of majoring in history because I like to deal with facts, solid information; not hypotheses or experimental ideas. Only thing is I'm not too sure what I can do with the history degree besides teach it (which I'm not interested in, esp in this economy where teachers are being cut back), or be a historian (not sure what all that entails, but if it means constantly writing essays non-stop, forget it). My aunt's suggested I become a librarian, but I can't work well in quiet areas--it just gives me the creeps.

      Thank you so much for this Hub, and if anyone has ideas for me, please share them.

    • profile image

      Natasha 9 years ago

      Loved you blog.

      Your tips help me very much when i was chooseing my major.

    • profile image

      johnny yuma1 9 years ago

      Lissie Yes in the USA, a person gets their degree in whatever they are majoring in. What part of Australia are you from? I have a friend from Sydney that posts her poetry on

      Good Hub Whitney!

      Johnny Yuma

    • DrJim profile image

      DrJim 9 years ago from Oklahoma

      Good Hub. I don't think amajor should be chosen until your Jr year after all your GenEds are done.I've seen too many young people fail because they picked a major that was not their passion and just gave up...keep writing

    • jdeschene profile image

      jdeschene 9 years ago from Boston, Massachusetts

      This hub is very illuminating. My favorite suggestion of yours is to look at which classes seem interesting and see if there's a pattern. Thanks so much for this hub!

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

      Lissie- I guess that a major and a degree is relatively the same. Some US colleges call it a degree program and others refer to it as a major.

    • manoharv2001 profile image

      Manoharan 9 years ago from Bangalore - 560097, Karnataka, India

      great hub

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 9 years ago from New Zealand

      It sounds like in the US a major is more like what I would call a degree? In NZ or Australia if you want to do a nursing degree you have to apply and be accepted for a specialised degree. For engineering you may get a first year gneralised - but after that its mechanical or electical or chemical or mining - you can mix and match. The BA and BSc are more general - in fact a major is often not required at all - you just have to do x number of courses at an advanced level.