Career Paths and College Majors: Does a Major Matter?
Spring semester is here, the time when college freshman and sophomores begin to choose their majors. A hard decision for most, as many students fear that it might set a career path they have to follow for the rest of their lives.
While the major you choose IS important – especially if you’re going to be a doctor or lawyer – it doesn’t mean that if you “choose wrong” you’ll be making a “mistake” that you’ll regret later on.
So – how to choose? Brian Eberman, CEO of StudentAdvisor.com, shares his tips for selecting the right major for you today, and for your future:
A degree is a foundation for a flexible future. The average American now changes their job 7 times over the course of their career, so you should be prepared to discover more about yourself post-graduation. Until then you're going to need to pick a course of study in order to graduate.
Here are a few things to consider before you declare your college major:
"To thine own self be true."
What are you good at? What do you love doing? Instead of choosing a major because “there have been 7 generations of X profession in my family” or “my mom has always dreamed of having a child who is an artist/chemist/dentist”, now is the time for you to decide what makes YOU happy.
Consider your strengths and what you both like and can excel at doing. Are you analytical, creative, detail oriented, driven, outgoing or thoughtful? Think it through and if you aren’t sure find some experiences that will help you figure out the kinds of activities that are right for you.
Work a variety of internships.
Internships are the new entry-level job. They're rare opportunities to "test drive" a potential career. Through an internship you can often discover the path to the perfect major. Don’t wait until Junior year to experience an internship – make use of those school breaks and summers. Consider working with graduate students and faculty in a field that interests you. You can learn a lot about a profession from this kind of work, and some schools even have paid undergraduate research positions.
If you decide that you want to be a pro football player/Broadway star/CEO (ahem), spend some time studying the career paths of others that have achieved success in those areas. Not everyone can “make it big”, and you may be surprised to learn how much work is actually involved. Decide now if you can put in that much time and effort.
Follow your beliefs.
If there is a cause you are passionate about – the environment, battling childhood obesity or animal welfare – it can open a door to a lifelong passion. Every cause has hundreds of positions that need to make it tick – from bookkeeping and research to marketing and political advocacy, there are many ways that you can get involved for a lifetime.
Keep your options open.
For those that still aren’t sure – and you are not alone – consider a major that leaves many doors open. Research bachelor's degrees in less specialized topics (such as business or communications) introduce a huge array of career paths. Don’t stress and take your time to understand what interests you.