Maybe you’ve known since you were little exactly what you want to be, but you need to figure out which program is the right one to prepare you. Or perhaps you have no idea at all what you want to do when you’re older and you’re still trying to figure that out. Even if you know where you’re going to school or you’re already enrolled, universities often offer dozens, if not hundreds, of majors.
It can feel daunting—and that’s perfectly normal.
There are a lot of tools and resources out there to help you figure this out. And there are a few common questions you can answer for yourself to see if you’re considering everything you should.
When to Start Thinking about Your Major
Since your major very likely will sway your college choice, then the golden standard of sophomore year of high school is a time to begin thinking about it. But that doesn’t mean that you’re locked into a career path.
Most college students have their major picked out by the end of their freshman year, if not sooner. If you’re not 100% convinced on what degree you want to pursue, take a variety of classes to see what fields fit you.
And getting involved in student activities, both in high school and college, is a great way to identify your interests, skills, and other important considerations for this decision.
What to Consider
Knowing yourself can be essential to choosing a degree that’s right for you.
A few key things to consider are your…
Are you outgoing? Then consider a field where you work closely with other people or perform publicly. Or maybe you like using logic and reasoning to solve problems—there are a lot of careers that need people who can do that.
Personalities are complex combinations of factors that affect nearly every aspect of who we are. Understanding ourselves can take a lot of personal reflection. But there are tools and resources available to help you better understand what kind of a personality you have and what careers or majors might be right for you.
As a starting point, consider taking an online test such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or Focus 2 Career. These won’t answer all of your questions, but they’ll get you started and maybe introduce you to some possibilities you never considered.
Interests and Motives
You have 40-plus hours per week for 40 or more years at your job. Is it going be to something you’ll enjoy?
This doesn’t have to be profession-specific. Think about your general areas of interest.
A few worth considering are:
- creative arts and design
- government, law, and public policy
- health care and human services
- sport and recreation
Will you find what you do rewarding? And what do you consider to be rewarding in the first place?
A lot of students will think about this from the financial perspective, but what else makes you tick?
Make a list of what’s most important to you and rank it. Helping others? Time with family? Personal growth?
Look for a degree that will get you there.
Abilities and Aptitudes
Are you good at it?
Whether you have a natural talent or develop a skill through hard work, the better you are at something, the more likely you will enjoy it.
And, quite frankly, this can also be a tough realization. If you’re interested in something but continuously struggle to do it, the hard truth is that major or profession might not be right for you.
Who Can Help
If you’d like help thinking through some of these, meet with your school counselor if you’re still in high school or an academic advisor if you’re enrolled in college. They’re there to guide you through this.
They will often be able to direct you to other people who can offer advice or insights: career coaches, faculty members, or student leaders, to name a few.