How to Choose a College Major


    How to Choose a College Major?

    Ted Turner, founder of the television networks TBS and CNN, is widely regarded as a success story in the American economy. After he decided to major in classical music, he received this letter from his father, “I am appalled, even appalled, that you took classical music as your major. In fact, I almost puked on the way home today. “

    Was Turner’s father, a practical man, right to blame his son for choosing an impractical college major? Or is it better to determine your course of study according to your interests, regardless of the earning potential?

    Below we compare both options to show their advantages and disadvantages. We’ll also briefly discuss a third option: Just choose a simple major to find the easiest way to graduate. Read on to see all of our top tips for choosing a college major.

    1. Choose a college major based on employability

    In the personal finance arena, it is common practice to advise students to choose a major based on income potential. According to this philosophy, good majors are considered to have high earnings potential, and bad majors are low earnings potential.

    A recent study by PayScale found that the top five courses of study for high salaries are:

    • Petroleum engineering
    • Electrical engineering and computer science
    • Applied economics and management
    • Corporate research
    • Public accounting

    These majors are linked to above average pay early in a graduate’s career and pay over $ 100,000 per year mid-career.

    If your primary goal in college is to achieve a high return on investment, one of the top college majors could be an excellent choice. However, this advice ignores two important factors.

    Can you be successful in a related field?

    In general, the top majors lists are dominated by engineering, nursing, and “business” degrees. Some of the top majors are more than just degree programs – they are prerequisites for specific careers (ex.

    These jobs can be highly paid. But they can also be rigorous or have high burnout rates. If you don’t enjoy working on an oil rig, then petroleum engineering is probably not a good choice for the degree.

    Employers may not be interested in your major

    If you want to become an engineer, accountant or nurse, you need a certain qualification. But not every job has such precise requirements.

    Java developers need to be able to work within specific development frameworks, write unit tests, and develop high quality code. But they may not necessarily need a computer science degree. You may be able to learn the required skills in a coding boot camp or during an internship.

    A 2013 study by the New York Federal Reserve Bank found that only 27.3% of employees worked in areas with a college major match. That means almost three quarters of people were employed in unrelated fields. Throughout your career, college courses tend to be less of a factor than experience.

    That’s not to say that employers don’t care about majors. Employers will recruit them based on. But they usually won’t rule someone out if they’ve studied biology rather than economics.

    2. Choose a college major based on what you love

    Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, once said: “I never saw my college education as a technical education. If so, why shouldn’t I just go to ITT Tech? ” He often praises his time at Stanford as an important time in which, despite his impractical major, he learned, grown, and challenged himself.

    The folks at Sethi’s camp often advise students to choose a college major in what they love, or at least choose one based on their interests. In some cases, this advice might work. It can be valuable to learn to think big, or to hone certain skills.

    But in other cases it could lead a student to a high-priced school with poorly paid job prospects (for example, studying culinary arts at an expensive private university). Overall, there are a few moments when I think the interest-based approach can make a lot of sense in school.

    You know what you want to study

    College is a short period of time that you can study almost anything. If you are into the humanities, paleontology, or the fine arts this is the time in life to pursue them. Just make sure you don’t get into too much debt while studying.

    They know you will need further training

    If you have to go to law, medicine, or graduate school to get a job in your field, your major isn’t that important. Make sure that you create the conditions for your later school days. However, you may want to choose a course based on your interests rather than the “prescribed” routes.

    You want double major

    Some students (especially those starting their first year of college with high credits) have the bandwidth to complete two majors. If you have that kind of bandwidth at your disposal, it might be worth combining music or visual arts with business or computer science.

    They hope to stay in science

    A professorship is not always lucrative. But if you want to stay in science, make sure you love your subject. To become an academic, long years of study are required, often combined with low-paying graduate jobs. However, the only way to become a professor of archeology is with a relevant Ph.D.

    3. Choose an easy college major

    It is becoming increasingly popular to characterize college as an expensive sheet of paper, but lament that it is required for almost all jobs. People who have this view of college often advise opting for an easy major and leaving college as soon and cheaply as possible.

    This view makes me sad, but it is not without its justification. Only about 62% of students who aim for a bachelor’s degree graduate within 6 years. Students can invest a lot of time and money into their college education only to lose their bachelor’s degree.

    If you are only attending college for graduation, choosing an easy major may be the right choice for you. It can enable you to complete your studies part-time or to pursue other facets of life.

    How to get the most out of your education (regardless of your major)

    Regardless of your college major, it is important to consider how your college experience will affect your future income and wealth creation potential. To maximize career opportunities, students need to take a holistic view of their education.

    Academic achievement, jobs, internships, and outside of the classroom experience all affect your future employability. These are a few things that can help you maximize the value of your education.

    Minimize debt whenever possible

    Student loans can last for decades, especially if you borrow large amounts to fund an expensive school. While studying, try to minimize debt by applying for scholarships, working, and saving costs where possible.

    Take off coursework relevant to business careers

    Regardless of your major, learn a few business basics. Courses such as accounting, marketing, language, and introduction to computer science can help you embark on a career in business or technology. New graduates often add relevant coursework to their résumés, especially if their major is not immediately applicable to certain entry-level jobs.

    Invest in your field of study

    College is a time of growth and reflection. But this time is more profitable when you are fully invested in your studies. Whenever possible, publish articles, research, and attend conferences on your subject. If your school has speakers, try joining the welcoming committee so you can talk to interesting people.

    Track professional experiences

    Whether you are studying computer science or underwater basket weaving, professional experience is important when entering the full-time job market. If possible, complete paid internships in the summer.

    But don’t forget the part-time internships that you can do during the school year. Many smaller businesses and nonprofits are more flexible and allow part-time internships during the school year.

    Build communication skills

    Communication skills like responding quickly to emails, asking persuasive questions, listening attentively, and presenting are incredibly important. You can learn these skills through formalized learning (like a language course or Toastmasters) or informally through work in a company or an internship.

    It is also worth reading classic business books such as The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which can raise your awareness of your communication style.

    Doing hard things while studying

    During your studies, you need to develop confidence in your ability to solve problems and overcome obstacles. The best way to do this is to do difficult things that involve a likely risk of failure.

    Work with a nonprofit organization to help them achieve their goals more effectively. Start a grassroots initiative to promote art in your city. Take part in a political campaign, start a business, or do research in an underfunded laboratory.

    Specific goals are less important than learning to make an effort and solve problems. The confidence you gain by developing these skills will lead to long-term confidence in your career.

    Final thoughts

    Your college major will likely determine how much you enjoy college, and it can be your ticket to certain careers. So you don’t want to choose a college major lightly.

    However, your major does not determine your professional fate. Whether you choose your major based on career prospects, passions, or ease is less important than focusing fully on your entire education.

    And no matter which subject you choose, it is important to consider how you will pay for it. For a full breakdown of all of your options, see How to Pay For College: The Best Order of Operations.


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