Get Ready For The World: Choosing Your College Major

college
Emily Charles

Emily Charles

LifeTech Academy Blogger

If you’re anything like I was in my senior year of high school, you have no idea what you want to do or what you want to study in college. If you’re like I was, then you might be stressed out, feeling pressure to make the “right choice” and might be feeling a little lost when you begin to think about what your future looks like. Choosing the major you want to study can be very intimidating. For some, it is an easy decision and they have known for a long time what they want to do and where they want to go to school… I have always envied those people. The majority of people in your position have no idea what they want to study or what they want to do – we’re all in this together! 

There are so many things to consider when you are deciding and I am here to help give you some guidance while you take this next step in your journey. My goal is not to decide for you but to help make the decision easier for you. Remember, nobody can make this decision for you. What you study in college should be your decision because it will be your career someday. Let’s hope that after thinking about the points below, that it’s an easier choice to make.

What Classes Do You Enjoy And Do Well In?

Think about what your favorite subjects are and what classes you perform best in. If there’s a favorite class or a few classes that come to mind, think about what it is that you like about it. Then consider if that aspect of the class can be transferred to a career choice. Make a list of all the classes (if not the whole class even just parts of the class you might like) and your hobbies and other interests. Once you have a list, look for what the things on it have in common and if that fits into a job description.

What Are Your Interests And Passions?

This is something a lot of people can get caught up on… following your passion. It is easy to box yourself in or turn down an opportunity/idea because it “isn’t what you’re passionate about”. This is something I am guilty of doing too. My senior year of high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go to school and everytime I looked at my options I came to the same conclusion: I’m not interested/passionate about that subject. I had the hardest time picturing myself doing the same thing (just one thing) for the rest of my life. I was telling myself two lies:

Lie #1: Once I pick a major and job, that’s the job I’m going to have for the rest of my life.

Once you choose a major or job, you are not trapped in that occupation like I thought, you can always change it later or pursue a different job. Once I got this message through my head I was able to make my decision with the reassurance that I can always change it later and my career can be whatever I make it. If I started working somewhere that I wasn’t happy with, I can look for a different job and from that experience I learned one thing I didn’t like and am one step closer to finding a career I love.

Lie #2: If I’m not passionate about it now then i’m not going to be happy with it later.

I used to be so caught up on finding my passion and pursuing a career path that I am passionate about. Now, after much thought and development, I follow a new mentality: Follow the opportunities and your passion will come later. If an opportunity comes your way and it excites you, go after it! Even if you don’t feel like you’re super passionate about it. I had a professor that sold office supplies and sanitary products for a couple years and she always said “office supplies and sanitary products aren’t necessarily things I am passionate about, but I had a passion for helping people. That’s what I was doing every day when I sold them products that provided solutions to problems they were having.” If you put 100% of yourself into an opportunity and perform at your best, the passion can come later. So don’t let your perception of an opportunity hold you back.

What Careers Can You Have With That Major?

Once you have picked your major you need to take another step and look for what jobs you can get with that degree. Look at the possibilities for a possible back up in case you someday decide you don’t want the original job you aimed for. Some other important considerations for the degree/job you decide to pursue:

  • Income of these careers. Is it enough to help you reach your goals and the standard of living you want?
  • Is there room for advancement in that career?
  • What does the day-to-day look like?
  • Qualifications outside a degree? Some occupations require certifications in software or other areas required for the job. Make sure you understand what it takes to get the job so youre ready.
  • The projected demand for that occupation and how hirable you will be upon graduation.

Have A Backup Plan In Place

It is always important to have a backup plan in place. Do you like the career options for the major you have decided on? Make a list of all of the job options that come with a degree and make a plan in case the job you like now doesn’t end up being the job you want once you graduate college. 

Choose Your Program Before Your School

The first biggest mistake that a lot of people make is choosing the school they want to go to and then choosing their major. The order of those decisions should be reversed. You should choose an area of study then choose a university with a strong program. While this may seem like common sense, it is a mistake that I have seen many friends make and has resulted in them either stuck in a program/school they don’t like or them needing to transfer to another school. 

How Do You Plan To Finance Your Education?

Something else to consider is the finances. College is expensive and that’s why this isn’t a decision you should take lightly. If you pick a major just to pick something then you will be spending thousands of dollars to take classes for something you are unsure about. Depending on how you plan to finance your education the stakes can be pretty high. All schools have different offerings to help you with the payment portion. You could be taking out FAFSA loans, applying for scholarships, you might qualify for more financial aid at one university than an alternative, or you could be paying out of pocket. Make sure you have a plan in place for how you are going to finance your education so you aren’t surprised down the road with unexpected costs and payments that could derail your journey. 

If you want to go to a private university/school, you will most likely be paying more. In state vs out of state costs for tuition (it’s typically higher for out of state). What will be your cost of living while you are going to school? While these are hard questions and not super fun to think about, it is SO important to consider your finances and factor that into your decision. 

Start Exploring The Possibilities Early

Think about the job you want and how you can test whether it would be a good fit or not before going to school for it. A couple ways you can gain exposure early are:

Job Shadowing.

You could ask someone that is currently in that position if you can shadow them for a day to see what it’s like. Make the most of your time with them and have a list of questions to ask them along with something to take notes on so you can write down things you liked and didn’t like about the experience. 

Research into responsibilities and the day-to-day.

There are countless online resources that will tell you what a typical day might look like in different careers. If after reading through the daily duties and responsibilities you don’t like it, then you know you may want to explore other possibilities. 

Career Assessment Tests. 

There are a lot of career assessment tests out there that ask you a series of questions to help you figure out what you might want to do. When I was in school, we used the program Career Cruising. LifeTech Academy uses Xello.world which is a similar program geared towards college and career planning.

I know this is a lot of information and that I have given you a lot to consider as you make these exciting next steps. My hope is not to scare you, but to prepare you and help you by making sure that you are asking the hard questions now. By thinking through your decision thoroughly, you are saving yourself time, money and stress in the long run. As always, your friends here at LifeTech Academy are willing to guide you each step of the way. Our goal is not only to help you be ready for college, but for you to be ready for the world!

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