Going to college is an exciting and terrifying step into the adulthood stages of life. While the freedom that comes from moving to a campus can be great, it can also be incredibly stressful learning how to juggle money, self-care, and classes at the same time. On top of this, new students are tasked with picking a major in which they will concentrate their studies and deeply affect their future careers. This choice is stressful and can be overwhelming when the most important information is unknown during the decision-making process.
The Facts About Undergraduates and Majors
Choosing the right major is hard, and some research has found that around 30% of undergraduates change majors at least once within the first three years of enrollment. For undergraduates pursuing a bachelor’s degree, this increases to 33%, and, for those pursuing an associate’s degree, this decreases to 28%. Interestingly, about 10% of students state that they have switched majors more than once. This does depend somewhat on the original field of study, in that students who began in a STEM field were much more likely to change. The rate of change in non-STEM fields is much lower in comparison.
Clearly, choosing a major is a huge life decision, and this is reflected in how frequently students change their minds. The major chosen as an undergraduate can have strong implications in qualifications to work, qualifications to attend graduate school, and even in personal happiness. While it is likely that one will change majors at least once, there are a few things to be kept in mind when first declaring a major and when thinking about changing majors.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Major
Choosing a major is a challenging life event, and lots of consideration should go into the decision. Among the things to be considered, happiness and career prospects are among the most important. This article is meant to provide some insight that may or may not apply to each individual in the same way, which is important to keep in mind throughout the whole process of choosing a major. Ultimately, the choice is only yours.
Many would say the most important consideration in choosing a major is to know what is exciting to you. You will be much happier now and later if you choose an area of study that is exciting for you. Imagine yourself at work years in the future and pick a major that is most closely related to that job. You will learn more transferable skills and have more fun while doing so. Another way to determine how exciting you find an area is to experiment by taking a class in the subject.
How much you want to be paid is also a key factor in this decision. STEM majors tend to have higher starting wages as these sorts of professionals are in high demand. Non-STEM majors usually do not bring in as much money until graduate level studies are pursued, which may take longer and be more expensive. The internet is filled with resources to help you compare salaries between majors, but, even with this consideration, happiness is key.
If You Have a Variety of Interests
For you, a single major may not be fulfilling or challenging enough. You may then consider undertaking a minor. A minor is like a major in that it will be in a specific field, such as chemistry or music, but it requires less classes. A minor may be just enough to satisfy your craving for more knowledge and understanding without too much added stress. In fact, many programs require a minor for those who choose only one major!
If a minor is not enough, then you may choose to take on a second major in a similar or unrelated field of study. This would provide you with skills and values from two different fields, which is perfect for those who deeply crave to understand the world or for those whose future career points towards a combination of methods from the two majors. Of course, this entails completing the requirements for two separate programs and can take more time. You may also choose two majors and minor if you should desire. As long as it makes you marketable, happy, and able to function, you should go for it.
Choosing your major does not need to be hard. You should do what makes you happy and promises to bring a life of fulfillment, and this will vary from person to person. You should also consider job prospects and how much money your major is predicted to make. Keep in mind that you can customize your college career by adding a minor, another major, or both. Ultimately, you are the most important factor to consider when choosing your major.