Up until now, you’ve coasted through school. You took the classes you needed to graduate, but you never felt particularly attached to that slip of paper verifying your efforts. Now you have to pick a major, and you still can’t decide which path to take. If you need help choosing the right major for you, try taking these three steps.
1. Think About Your Past
While you may feel tempted to pick a major because your parents want you to do so, only you truly understand your personality and which course is right for you. As you brainstorm for ideas, think about the following questions:
- What past jobs did you enjoy?
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
- What did you enjoy in the past but haven’t had time to participate in for a while?
- What classes did you find the most gratifying?
- What subjects gave you the most success?
Use the answers to these questions to guide you. Your interests and hobbies don’t change drastically just because you go to college. The things you enjoyed before are probably going to be things you will continue to like, so pay attention to your interests and choose a major that suits your personality.
2. Gain Experience
If you have yet to pick a career, you may want to gain a little on-the-job experience before you pursue further education.
For example, if you think becoming a psychologist could lead to a fruitful career, consider applying for an internship at a local medical center. If you find that the job too intense, then you might want to consider a different major. On the other hand, if you discover that you’d enjoy a job in a related-field, you may want to sign up for classes needed to become a therapist, social worker, counselor, or psychology teacher.
You can also gain more experience by getting a master’s degree. For example a Master of Education degree can help you get the experience and leadership skills necessary for some jobs. An MBA can greatly help when starting a new business or managing a large number of people. Higher education can give you experience that not even some jobs can.
3. Think About Your Budget
Statistics estimate that the average graduating class this year will have to pay more than $35,000 in student loans and other debt. And if you don’t want to join these statistics, you’ll need to consider which majors cost the most to complete and which degrees will lead to the greatest potential income.
Although pricing varies between colleges and universities, economics and foreign language textbooks tend to cost more than books for philosophy and English literature courses. And though best-paying jobs will fluctuate as time goes by, biomedical engineering majors tend to earn a starting salary of $53,800 which grows to $97,900 by mid-career. Childhood education, in contrast, often starts at $29,700 and grows to about $38,000 by mid-career. However, if you pursue a master’s degree in education and become a special education teacher, the starting salary jumps to $77,000 and grows to $95,000 as you advance.
While these three steps will help you pick a major, remember that you can always change your major if you decide it doesn’t fit your personality or lifestyle. College and graduate school can lead to a lot of life changes as you explore and discover what you enjoy most.