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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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