If attending college is right around the corner for you, then selecting a college major isn’t far behind. While many students decide on college majors before choosing a school, it’s a difficult decision for many others. There is significant social pressure on students to pursue their interests in college, but they are also encouraged to pursue marketable majors as one of the best ways to ensure stable, lucrative futures. So, what’s a student to do: pursue their passion; their talent; or a field that pays well?
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Find the middle ground.
According to a USA Today article, a study of a 2013 college freshmen class indicated that only thirty-six percent chose their major based on their interests while one-third of the students based their choice of college majors on finding employment after graduation. While this is not surprising given the country’s current economic situation, research indicates that students who choose interest-based majors do better academically.
Many students find that a satisfying middle ground involves choosing marketable college majors relevant to their interests. In the case of the online UF Sport Management degree program, for instance, students can combine a love of sports with a business degree. One recent graduate of that degree program says he was able to perform well academically because the major held his interests while helping him to develop the skills he needs to manage a business.
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Combine your interests with marketable careers.
Take a moment to make a list of what your likes and dislikes are, what your goals are, and what skills you possess. What are your strongest points? Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll be on the right path to finding your best fit for college majors.
If you’ve gone through twelve years struggling with math, for instance, you won’t benefit from choosing a math-related major, regardless of how lucrative your job prospects might be. Search instead for a major which incorporates your interests with training in marketable skills. Maybe you have an artistic streak—consider marketable creative majors such as web design or illustration. If you want to study sociology but also wish to enter the medical field, consider pursuing your bachelor’s degree in public health. Most, if not all, fields of study can be approached from a more marketable angle with a little research.
Many students have a general idea of what field they’d like to pursue a career in, but are unsure what specific job options are available in that field. If you’re one such student, referencing information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook is an excellent way to start looking at jobs you might like. Their website provides regional employment and salary data as well as an index of jobs in your chosen field which you may not have considered before.
Reach out for sound advice.
One of the most underutilized resources for students looking for advice in selecting college majors is the many professionals already employed in the field. If you have an idea of what you want out of your career, try reaching out to someone with a similar career through networking resources like LinkedIn or your college’s alumni networks. Ask them what they studied in college, why they chose that particular course of study, and if it provided them with the skills they needed for the field they’ve entered. If the college majors these professionals recommend seem completely different from those you’ve considered, look at the alternatives.
Once you’ve chosen the major you think best reflects your interests and career aspirations, don’t consider it set in stone. Many college students change their college major midway through college because their interests change, or because they finally realize what they want for a career. Take your time choosing your major to best combine your interests, your skills, and the training you’ll need for a future career you’ll be passionate about.