Incoming college freshmen or students in the undecided major category, give me five minutes of your time. Did all those career tests in high school help you solidify what you wanted to do with your life? Do you know without a doubt what you want to study during college?
If you’re like me, probably not. Picking a college major is a huge undertaking and feels like a big commitment. I think I changed my major three times in college; I started out in journalism, then moved to pre-mortuary science, and ended up studying history and historic preservation.
Picking History was easy for me because it was something I was interested in. While all of my business major friends were freaking out over their accounting final, I relaxed at the end of the semester knowing my huge term paper was complete. Studying History came effortlessly because I loved it and wanted to learn about it.
Most of my business major friends dreaded class every day. They hated business. It simply wasn’t what they wanted or were interested in doing for a living. So why on Earth then would you put yourself through four years or more of torture and drudgery in college studying a topic you despise only to get a career in a field you’re not even interested in?
Money. Plain and simple. When I asked my friends why they studied business, it was for the potential jackpot job they hoped to land post-graduation. And that’s fine as one aspect to consider when choosing a college major; however consider the following as well when making your choice:
- What Do You Want to Do?
Are you studying accounting or art because you want to and are passionate about it? Or did someone force you into it? More than likely if you like the subject you’re studying, you’ll be more motivated to go to class and do the work involved.
- Consider the Skills and Traits That Are Your Strengths
Are you really good with handling numbers or large gobs of information? Can you simplify really complex ideas down to a level most people can understand? Consider those skills when focusing on a major to pick. If you aren’t good with numbers, going into accounting may not be the best option for you.
- What Can Your Major Really Offer?
Do some Internet research or talk with other people in that major. A history degree offers more than just studying history itself. You read historical pieces critically, study trends or statistics, make educated guesses based on a collection of facts, and write lengthy reports based on the information you gathered. Many liberal arts degrees can offer a level of critical thinking that other majors may not, and when spun the right way on a resume can compete well with other majors—especially when coupled with work experience.
- Talk to Professionals In Your Career of Interest
If you want to be a top level business executive, try to get in touch with them and ask questions about how they got to where they are now. How much schooling was involved? Ask what they thought helped them get to their position? And while you’re at it, ask what they look for in future employees. Gathering information from the source itself will help you shape the path you need to travel down to get to where you want to be.
- Figure Out What You Are Interested In and Take a Class About It
If you want to be a writer, take a journalism or writing class that isn’t just your typical composition class. Ask the professor questions and explore what you can. I took one accounting class because I wanted to see if a business degree was right for me. I dropped it after one class.
Go on a fishing expedition for more information and see what you catch. Instead of trying to pick a major blindly, consider what you like and what skills you already have to hone in during you college career. Despite picking History as a major and everyone telling me it wouldn’t get me anywhere, the writing, critical thinking, and information-analysis skills I refined through my classes helped me land a job on the marketing team of the #1 online mortgage lender —without ever taking a marketing class.
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