Simple tips for choosing a college major -- and a career -- you'll love

Simple tips for choosing a college major — and a career — you’ll love

All throughout high school, your classes were pretty much decided by someone else.  Sure, you could choose chemistry instead of physics or art instead of music, but your choices were limited.

College is a whole different world.  Now, for the first time, you’re in charge of what you study.  And it all starts with choosing a college major. That’s exciting.  And more than a little scary. 

So to make it a little easier — and a little less terrifying — here are some suggestions for choosing a college major you’ll love.  And a few ideas to keep in mind in case you think you’ve made the wrong choice.

Sort through the clutter

Odds are, there are a lot of people in your life who think they know exactly what you should study, and what career you should choose. And they probably mean well.  But when it comes to choosing a college major, you’ll have to take one of the most difficult steps in your life. 

You will have to put aside all of that well-meaning advice, ignore the statements about what a great doctor you’d make or what a fantastic lawyer you’re bound to become. This decision isn’t about what other people think.  You need to silence the chatter to start your selection.


Ask a lot of questions

This might sound like a contradiction.  After all, I just told you not to listen to other people, right?  But this isn’t about people telling you what to do.  It’s about you asking questions. You’re doing research, not trying to please family members or friends.

And your sources for information?  People who have gone into professions you’re considering. People who have found out, through experience, what works and what doesn’t. What classes are optional, and which classes you can’t do without.

Because you are asking the questions, you’re also in the position to decide which advice to accept, and which to discard. 


Am I seriously telling you that daydreaming is part of choosing a college major?  Yup. And it’s a step you can’t afford to skip if you want to find a major you’ll love.

Get comfortable, and then start picturing yourself in a variety of classes.  Imagine opening the book, and reading about the subject.  Think about doing a research project or writing a paper in the class.  Are there a ton of aspects about which you would like to know more?

Now do the same thing which careers.  Imagine yourself going to work each day as an engineer or a programmer or a writer.  How does that feel?

When you’ve narrowed it down to a few majors and careers, it’s time for the last step.

Be honest with yourself about your skills

For many people, this is the hardest part of choosing a college major.  Maybe you picture yourself as the next Wall Street mogul. But you’re too shy to sell anything, and math has never been easy for you. 

While your dreams could come true with hard work, you need to be realistic about how your skills match up with the majors and careers you’re considering.

Make your choice

It’s down to the wire.  You need to write something in that box declaring your major. 

You’ve gone through all the steps, and you think you have it nailed down. But what if you got it wrong?  What if three or four classes into your major, you hate it?  Or you’ve discovered a new passion?

Here’s the final secret.  Unlike so many other things in life, with college majors there are do-overs.  You can declare a new major, and start again.  Sometimes it will mean taking an extra semester or two, but it’s almost always doable, 

Choosing a college major?  Not nearly as hard as you thought!