How to Choose the Right College Major

Tips for Declaring an Undergraduate Major

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A college major is the main subject that a student studies while attending a college, university, or another academic institution. Examples of popular business majors include advertising, business administration, and finance.

Many students begin their college education without a clear idea of what their major will be. Others know from an early age exactly where they're going and what they have to study to get there. Most people fall somewhere in between; they have a general idea of what they want to study, but are considering other things.

Why Choose?

Choosing a major doesn't necessarily mean you’ll be stuck doing that particular thing for the rest of your life. Many students switch majors during their college career--some do it quite often. Choosing a major is important because it gives you a direction to aim for and determines what classes will be taken to earn a degree.

When to Declare a Major

If you’re going to a two-year school, you will probably need to declare a major soon after enrolling because of the short duration of the educational process. Many online schools will often make you choose a major as well. However, if you’re entering a four-year school, you are sometimes not required to declare a major until the end of your second year. Read more about how and when to declare a major.

What to Choose

The obvious choice for a major is an area you enjoy and are good at. Remember, your career choice will most likely be reflected in your choice of a major, so the majority of your classes will revolve around that area of study. In choosing a career, it would be best to pick something that appeals to you now and will provide you with job prospects in the future. 

How to Choose

The most important thing to consider when choosing a college major is what you want to do with the rest of your life. If you choose a major that doesn't particularly interest you merely because a job in that field pays well, you could end up with a few bucks in the bank, but be extremely unhappy. Instead, you would do well to pick a major based on your interests and personality. Don't shy away from the hardest college majors if those fields interest you. If you enjoy them, you are more likely to succeed. For instance, if you’re not a people person you probably shouldn't consider a career in human resources. People who don’t like math or numbers shouldn't choose a career in accounting or finance.

College Major Quiz

If you’re unsure of what major to choose, it may benefit you to take a college assessment quiz to help you pinpoint a college major based on your personality. A quiz of this type isn't infallible but it can give you a general idea of what majors might suit you.

Ask Your Peers

Consult with the people who know you best. Your family and fellow students may be able to help you decide upon a major. Ask your peers for their advice. They may have an idea or point of view that you haven’t considered. Keep in mind that anything they say is just a suggestion. You don't have to heed their advice; you’re simply asking for an opinion.

When You Can’t Decide

Some students find that they are torn between two career paths. In these cases, a double major may be appealing. Double majors allow you to study two things at once, such as business and law, and graduate with more than one degree. Majoring in more than one area can be beneficial, but it can also be difficult--personally, financially, and academically. Consider it carefully before taking this path.

And remember, you shouldn't be disheartened because you don’t know what direction you want your life to take. Many people don’t choose a major until they absolutely have to, and even then, change majors at least once.

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Your Citation
Schweitzer, Karen. "How to Choose the Right College Major." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Schweitzer, Karen. (2020, August 27). How to Choose the Right College Major. Retrieved from Schweitzer, Karen. "How to Choose the Right College Major." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 28, 2023).

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