How to Find Your Dream Major

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If you’re reaching the end of the year with continued anxiety over your chosen major, it might be time to reconsider. Changing your major can seem overwhelming, but you shouldn’t feel undue pressure over it. The truth is that you’re not out of time to change your mind, even if this is your last semester! You don’t want to live the rest of your life wondering, “What if….?”

However, there is a point to be made that everyone experiences some major doubt over the course of their college career. There might be a few rare people who never waiver, but for everyone else, picking a major isn’t an easy decision. If you’re really considering switching, ask yourself these questions before you do anything drastic (or neglect to do anything at all).

What Makes You Happy?

This might seem like the most obvious question out there, but there’s a reason it’s first. Don’t just consider what things you like — which TV shows, theme park rides, sports, bands, whatever. Those are great but think big picture.

Are you fulfilled by pushing yourself to complete the next puzzle? Consider careers in medicine, government, or even air traffic control.

Maybe you want to see new people and visit exciting places. The United States has 270 embassies that need Foreign Service staff. You could be a pilot or teach English abroad.

There are many things that might make you happy, but ultimately you can narrow it down to the next question.

How Can You Best Achieve That Happiness?

This is where reality kicks in. Maybe you like the idea of solving puzzles for a job, but you can’t imagine going to school for seven years to become a doctor. Maybe you do want to travel, but you can’t learn languages to save your life.

That’s okay; it doesn’t mean that you can’t do what makes you happy just because you lack a skill in one area. Instead, focus more on how you can work in a field that interests you. Take personality tests, visit your school’s career counselor, and research thoroughly. There are definitely dozens of jobs in the field that you’ve never heard of.

And if you really can’t find an existing way to do what you want to do, be an entrepreneur! They represent 10 percent of the workforce, and you’ll be in good company. Getting to set your own hours and be your own boss are pretty powerful perks. Not everyone has what it takes to be an entrepreneur, but if you’re driven enough to get to this point, chances are that you do.

What Will Get Me There?

The last piece of the puzzle is to consider what path you have to take to get your happiness. Sometimes it’s pretty straightforward. Wanna be an engineer? Get an engineering degree. Wanna be a lawyer? Go pre-law, and get your J.D. afterward. In some cases, you might not love your new major, but remember that it’s getting you to a larger goal.

Sometimes, though, it’s less laid out for you. Most jobs have several related degrees. A lot will just care that you have the relevant experience or even just a minor in the field. Some jobs won’t care at all what your degree is in, just that you have one.

You can take some time to ask yourself all these questions, but don’t let them sit on the backburner for too long. Eventually, you’ll have to make a decision. When you do, look up what classes you need to take and get a plan in place. Years down the road, you’ll be glad that you took the time now.

Why Liberal Arts Degrees Matter

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When it comes to picking your college or major, we talk a lot about ROI — or, return-on-investment. Basically, it refers to what you get from putting in time and money. And when it comes to colleges and ROI, liberal arts degrees gets a bad rap compared to STEM programs (science, technology, engineering, and math).

But liberal arts degrees have loads to offer students! From preparing students to be global leaders and instilling in them a holistic education, studying liberal arts can pay off. Here’s what you need to know about these special degrees.

 

Not All Students are STEM Students

We all have our different talents, interests, and skills — it’s what makes the workforce so dynamic and diverse! If we all studied STEM, then we would have a world full of scientists and no historians, museum curators, musicians, etc. Studying liberal arts means you have a different path to forge!

 

Job Opportunities Galore

Contrary to popular belief, liberal arts majors have loads of career options once graduating. And while you may not go into the higher paying, in-demand jobs, you can find fulfilling work as teachers, artists, writers, journalists. And, surprisingly, there are many liberal arts majors that you might only believe belong at research-based schools like economists, psychologists, and even graphic designers.

 

A Heart for Service

Many liberal arts majors take on jobs in nonprofits, politics, or service fields. This is because liberal art students are taught to make a difference in the world. Many liberal arts schools require students to perform service hours as part of graduation requirements or to take on personal projects that connect them with their community. This real world experience is perfect for those who want to make their living changing the world.

 

Philosophy and Critical Thinking Matter

One of the hallmarks of a liberal arts degree is coursework in philosophy. Most liberal arts schools require you take at least one class in it, if not more. These classes are meant to teach you how to think outside the box, make major decisions, and be a thought leader. Sounds pretty great for those who want to run a company or go into the public sector.

 

Outside Perspectives

Liberal arts majors also focus on multiculturalism and lense theories. For example, you may take a reading course where you view a famous book from a new perspective (such as a feminist point-of-view). This is meant to put you in the place of others so that you can learn from them and see why they may think a certain way. It’s a great way to understand how to communicate better with others.

 

Stepping Stones to Something Else

Many liberal arts students don’t stay in their field once they graduate from undergrad. Some take their sociology degree and go on to law school. Other English majors master in library science. Psychology students become doctors or therapists. Arts majors go on to become graphic designers with MBAs in marketing. Liberal arts majors and schools are often meant to be a starting point, not an end to school, so if grad school is in your sight, liberal arts degree may be perfect for you.

 

 

5 Careers for Social Work Majors

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You went to college to make a difference in the world – to help out your community. You want to study social work! It’s a great major for those with big hearts and even bigger dreams and visions for their lives. But what happens after graduation? What can you actually do with a social work degree? Here are a few careers you should consider as your next step.

First Things First

There are many jobs you can get with just a BSW (Bachelors of Social Work). However, for many jobs where you will be working with a “case” or “patient,” you will need to take it to the next level with a MSW (Masters in Social Work). Don’t let that discourage you if graduate school is not in your plans. There are many amazing social worker jobs available that start you from the bottom and work your way up.

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1.   School Social Worker

Making your difference may mean heading back to school where you can work with children. A school social worker spends their days talking to students about their lives, monitoring behavior challenges, and coordinating with parents and teachers. They are also there to provide mental health assistance in case of an emergency or community crisis by providing counseling, education, or interventions.

Most states require school social workers to have a Master’s degree. However, they are paid an average of $47,500 per year and typically get the same level of benefits as teachers such as summer vacations, retirement plans, and stable careers.

2.   Residential Counselor

Residential counselors are usually found in living centers such as mental health facilities, rehabilitation programs, and nursing homes. They provide mental health care for the most vulnerable patients, and they work with loved ones in understanding necessary care. Residential counselors often develop programming and activities that help in recovery or treatment or they oversee group therapy sessions.

Residential counselors are usually licensed with a Master’s degree and have a specialty such as addiction, geriatrics, or adolescents. Depending on their roles and the facility they work in, the salary is typically in the high $30,000-$50,000.

3.   Licensed Clinical Social Worker

If you want to go into business for yourself, consider becoming a LCSW – a licensed clinical social worker. These are professional therapists who help families or individuals work out their problems through regular counseling. Many work in small practices or on their own as a private provider.

However, you do not need to just get your LCSW through a Master’s program. You can also consider receiving your MFT (Marriage and Family Therapy), LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), or LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor). The difference between these certifications are the type and extent of therapy provided, as well as specialty areas.

4.   Non-Profit Advisor

A change from providing therapy or counseling is providing expertise to community non-profits. Working with charities or social groups can be equally rewarding and get you in front of a community faster. For example, you may consider working with an international adoption agency or helping with adult education programs for homeless populations.

Non-profit advisors usually make less at $30,000-$40,000 per year, but the position typically does not require a Master’s degree. It’s a great job to get your feet wet and to help you decide if you want to move up in the future.

5.   Politician and Government

If you have grander ambitions to change the world on the larger scale, you should also consider going into politics. You may want to be the politician yourself or assist in a government office. This may include working as a community planner, assisting with Child Protective Services, or becoming a victim’s advocate at a community shelter.

Many politicians today need a higher degree, whether in law, MBA, or a graduate social work. However, if you start as a government worker, you can get your name out there and find a specialty or issue you are passionate about.

Top High-Earning Majors for College Graduates

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Thinking of money

Selecting your major or intended field can bring up a lot of questions regarding your future, where your passions and talents lie, and what kind of impact you want to leave on the world. Of course, whatever your major, you almost certainly want to ensure that your education pays off post-commencement. Here are the top eight majors for those looking to earn big bucks after graduation.

1.   Engineering

Nuclear, chemical, biological, agricultural, computer, aerospace—the options for this field of study are varied and plentiful. The good news is that no matter which track you choose, engineers have some of the highest earning potential of any major. Employers are desperately seeking detail-minded engineers—and they’re more than willing to pay for someone with the specialization they need.

2.   Computer Science

Nowadays, almost every job involves some kind of computer services. This has led to a huge demand for all versions of computer science major: coders, software designers, IT managers, engineering, and many more. Jobs in this arena are plentiful, and specialization (such as focusing on design, security, or programming) can open up even more opportunities in the technology world.

3.   Finance

Managing the wealth of individuals or a business can be a difficult—but lucrative—challenge. Graduates with finance degrees often work as financial analysts, portfolio managers, and corporate development financiers. They are tasked with predicting the markets and adjusting investments of the people or organizations they serve. Though the undertaking is high-risk, the payday can be well worth the four-year education and certification process.

4.   Statistics

Math-minded individuals have been flocking to statistics programs due to high demand for statisticians in areas like actuarial science, financial analysis, and engineering. Even without an advanced degree, the average pay scale in the United States starts at $80,000 to $120,000—and it only increases with further education and career advancement.

5.   Geology and Archaeology

What do Indiana Jones, Lara Croft, and the majority of scientists featured in disaster movies have in common? They studied geology and archaeology. To be transparent, obtaining a degree in either of these challenging, science-heavy fields isn’t for everyone; it requires a love of everything related to natural and social history. But it pays off in the opportunities it opens: seeing places no one has ever seen before, studying small but important changes in the earth—and getting paid a hefty price to do so.

6.   Construction Management

As the economy has recovered following the housing market collapse of the 2000’s, building projects have once again taken off. Because of the collapse, there is currently a shortage of individuals who are trained to purchase materials, manage a staff, and enforce safety measures on job sites. This has created strong demand—and many construction companies are willing to pay top dollar for construction managers.

7.   International Business and Relations

International business and relations majors study the culture of countries in relation to their field (such as the political climate of Mexico or the purchasing metrics of Japan) and how to apply those to the public and private sectors in the United States. Many work for international businesses or in posts with international organizations like the United Nations. These majors provide a wide range of opportunities that also have excellent long-term prospects for jobs and earnings.

8.   Marketing and Communications

The average individual sees more than 5,000 advertisements per day. That staggering number becomes simply mind-blowing when you consider the amount of people who work on creating those messages and visual designs. But marketing and communications isn’t just advertising; it branches into sectors such as public relations, speech writing, and even production.

Regardless of what you see your earning potential as, selecting a major should not just be based on your projected paychecks. Find a major that fits your passion, your skills, and your drive. Graduating with a degree that also pays you in career satisfaction is the best way to ensure your major is the right one for you. What will you be majoring in when you enter college? Have you graduated with a degree already that helped you make a good amount of money? Let us know your thoughts!

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So, Where Are You Going?

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It’s the topic of discussion around dinner tables, online forums, and the hallways of high schools across the country: where are you going to go to college? As a sophomore, I can honestly say I made my decision pretty quickly. Well, at least the first time. Yes, you heard me, the first time.

You see, when I began my college search my sophomore year of high school I had narrowed down my choices to those that fit four major qualities: small, in state, good programs, and away from home. In my head, those were all that mattered in a prospective college. With those in mind, my search was relatively easy. I quickly weeded out the big universities and colleges both in and out of state. I figured out a long time ago that big campuses just weren’t for me and that I didn’t want to necessarily go out of state.I found my dream school shortly after my search began. It was perfect. The school was just far enough away to gain my independence, came highly accredited, and even had a study abroad program. Bonus!

I had decided right away that this was the school I would attend and with that, all other schools were simply out of the question.

Now some might say making a decision so early in your search can be a great thing: it gives you plenty of time to search for scholarships, sort out the roommate situation, and even scope out potential jobs in the area. Moving out on your own for the first time, whether in a dorm or in an apartment, is a huge change and allowing yourself time to plan for these changes is key to success.And they’re right! Making your decision early can make planning long term a lot easier.However, for me, that’s not what happened.

Due to the fact that I had eliminated all schools that weren’t my dream school, I missed out on the opportunities most people take for granted.

For example: college visits. As weird as it sounds, college visits actually do help you see what you do and don’t like about certain campuses. I missed on visiting other campuses because I limited myself to the idea of my dream school. Had I gone on more visits, I might have figured out that on campus living was not the right choice for me. Or that living 4+ hours away from my family isn’t exactly ideal for someone who is family centered. Sometimes I catch myself thinking back and wondering if I had taken more time, would I have ended up in the same place?

Despite the shortcomings from picking a school too early, it’s important to look at all of your options when making this decision. To combat college choice regret, go on as many college visits are your high school will allow and do your research After all, as you’ll see in my next post, being a transfer student can have its drawbacks.

Help! What Should I Major In?

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There are a million careers out there, and even more college majors. In this economy, with the prices of college sky high, it’s a good idea to be pragmatic when making this decision. I always recommend to students that they take one course that they would not have considered otherwise, and then major in something that is related to their career choice.

For me, that “unrelated” course was a course in the Religion and Classics Department about Hinduism with a world-renown expert, Professor Douglas Brooks.

That course was a game-changer for me. It didn’t just teach the material, it opened my mind to an entire world of thoughts I hadn’t experienced before; the connection between religious identity and the way we live, comparative religious studies, the political interaction based on religions, and the entire field of philosophy, morality, and ethics.

I have applied these lessons to countless situations, methodology (how I approach and analyze research), comparative studies (any two things can be put side by side and decoded for similarities and differences), cause and effect, and in simply striving to be a better human being. And I thought the class was “unrelated”.

So, how should you choose your major and your a career when you’ve only begun looking at colleges?

That’s the critical question. It’s true- most people change majors, and that’s okay. In my mind, however, changing majors equates to losing money. You may do it for a great reason; you opened your mind to something new or learned about a different career opportunity. That’s commendable, but it doesn’t change the fact that you still have to pay for those eight courses. Sometimes a little preparation and long-term goal-setting can help.

1. What is your personality type? There are tests and assessments that can help you consider this. I took the Meyers-Briggs personality assessment. It was a little unsettling how accurate this test was. Discovering your personality traits is helpful. Then, you can match up your personality profile with lists of recommended skills and careers. You can still choose something different, but it helps to do a little self-discovery.

2. What types of things do you see yourself doing in ten years? Many careers seem one way, but are really another. What are the day-to-day tasks in your potential field? Interview people. Research. Find out. In forensics, for example, you might spend a great deal of time on lab work when you thought you were going to be on TV solving crimes. You need to know what you will be spending 90% of your time doing in order to know if it’s the right choice.

3. Is this a realistic career for you? What are your aptitudes? Your interest might be in medicine, but without a hefty dose of math and science, as well as the ability to attend an additional eight or more years of school, you cannot be a doctor. If you won’t commit to that level of education, you might be able to research careers dealing with health and wellness which better match with your goals.

4. Are there jobs? This economy is not good. People will try to steer you in a job-oriented direction. You should know if your career is in demand. If it is not, don’t be discouraged; be excellent. If you are excellent, you stand a better chance of getting that job.

However, you have to be realistic about the need for your skill set in this economy. If you are entering into a highly competitive career, you must either dedicate yourself to being the best or add an additional skill that makes you stand out and places you in high demand. Use this Learnist board on choosing a career to help you sort through the options.

 

Doing the legwork and reflection about careers and majors may seem like it takes some of the freedom and fun out of college, but it does just the opposite. It will place you squarely in a major that will relate to the skills you want and need, and help propel you to an excellent career without wasting a lot of your precious time and money. This, in return, will reduce your stress and give you a better college experience.

Switching Majors?

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When I first started college years ago, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or be when I finished. There were so many exciting possibilities to choose from that I had a hard time selecting just one. Maybe I wanted to be an artist or major in business. Or, maybe I wanted to work in the HR department or work in hospitality. Whatever I decided to do, I knew it was MY decision and that was the single most exciting factor of it all.

In the beginning, I started taking my general electives with early childhood education as my major. “I’ll be a teacher”, I thought. After all, I’ve always loved kids and am still a huge kid at heart. As 60% of my friends started going into early childhood education, I started wondering if that major was really for me. As I’m naturally very artistic, I finally decided that taking up a major in Graphic Design was much more up my alley than education.

I actually really loved Graphic Design. I focused more on producing print and media for digital marketing, and really loved learning all of the different editing software such as InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and more. As I got deeper into my major, I realized how much physical artistic talent you needed to excel. “Physical” meaning hand-drawing or painting abilities. Due to the competitive market and after seeing the amazing art produced by my classmates, I decided to adhere to my true calling: writing. I took up a major in Communications and have loved every bit of it. Communications opens up so many fields for you in direct marketing, digital marketing, writing, PR, and more.

The moral of this story (because there always is an end to my rants) is that you can switch your major once, twice or even three times and still be just as successful as any of your other classmates. Switching majors doesn’t make you any less smart or any more “behind”. In fact, switching your majors allows you to test the waters in a couple different industries to see what it is you really like, like I did. Although the switches have made my education last a bit longer than just your average 4 years, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning bits and pieces of different studies. And, because most of your general electives will be the same, (assuming that they transfer appropriately between universities if you plan on switching institutions) you can transfer them towards your new major or even pick up on a study you started previously after you get your 4 year degree in your major of choice.

The quickest way to get your four year degree and excel in your chosen major is to know right when you first sign up for college. This way, you can start knocking out your electives and start your path to graduation. However, many students simply don’t know what they want to study yet, so testing the waters may be a good solution for them. If you’re still not sure what you want to major in and aren’t satisfied with the major you chose, try asking other students around on campus what they’re studying and what it entails. You may find out that you’re interested in something you weren’t so fond of in high school. If you love to write, take up a major that involves a lot of research and writing courses, and possibly even study Linguistics. If you love crunching numbers, see what majors are available in financing or mathematics. There are virtually endless possibilities available to you, so dip your toes in and see what fits you the best.

Make sure that before you decide to switch your major that you meet with an adviser and really go over what the courses entail. Think about costs, classes and future careers. Take into account how long it will take you to reach graduation after you switch, and most importantly, do your research and see if this is really something you want to do. Once you switch, it’s pure dedication and hard work so make sure you’re switching for a good reason!

Choosing the Right Major

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Some days it’s hard to decide what you want for breakfast. There are so many different options: cereal, bagels, eggs, donuts, or last night’s leftover pizza; it’s hard to choose just one. You might decide to have a little bit of everything or to save the other options for lunch and dinner.

It’s a simple daily decision, but it might take you forever to find the right answer.

Yet somehow, at the ripe old age of 17, you’re supposed to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life?

That’s a lot harder than choosing what you’d like to eat. It also has a lot more impact. After all, if you make the wrong decision there might be a lot of negative consequences that last longer than an upset stomach.

However, year after year, young high school graduates choose their majors without fully grasping the impact of their decision. They know more about the effects of eating a bagel than they do about choosing engineering over creative writing. So here are a few things that you should think about before you decide.

What’s more important to you?

Five years from now do you want to be rich, famous, or happy with your career? Now don’t say all of the above. Pick one that matters the most to you. It might change as your priorities and your needs change, but for now base your decision on your foremost desire. Than choose the major that will help you best fulfill it.

How much studying do you want to do?

If you don’t enjoy spending hours in the library or you want to make sure you have plenty of time to hang with friends, medical school is probably not the ideal goal for you. However, if you think that you won’t mind the work and you really want to become a doctor or an engineer, give it a shot.

Where do you want to live?

A nurse or a teacher can move almost anywhere in the country and find a good position. Agriculture or public relations majors might not be able to do that. They’ll have to go where the jobs are. So if you want to live in Phoenix, AZ, do some research into what jobs are projected to be hiring when you graduate.

How important is humanitarian or social work to you?

If you want to give back to your community you can. No matter what your major is there is something you can do to help others. However, you’re probably not going to make money doing it. So you need to know what’s more important to you.

When and for how long are you willing to work?

Working on the weekends or during the night shift is not fun. You’ll miss going out with your friends Friday night, and if your significant other works a different shift you might never have free time together. So before you enter a career (like nursing) that requires night shifts and/or 12 hour shifts, think about it. Would you rather work a 9-5 job? Do you enjoy running on your own schedule? Do you mind having Monday and Tuesday off instead of Saturday and Sunday?

How much free time do you need?

A business major, trying to make it on Wall Street, probably doesn’t have a lot of free time to hang with her friends. However, an accountant that works for a small company only has to be there from 9-5 and has plenty of time to socialize after work.

Can you develop your passion on the side?

College advisers don’t usually recommend minors or duel majors, but if you’re interested in a major that doesn’t have good job prospects (like creative writing or English) they might be a good idea. An engineer with a minor in English is a rare treat; not only can she do all the lab work but she can write the report, employers might love that.

You can change your mind later –

If all else fails, don’t forget that the decision you make now isn’t necessarily permanent. You can change your major at any time (although there may be some financial consequences) and you can enter a career or get a masters degree in an area completely different from your major. It all depends on what you want and what you’re willing to do to get it.

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