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 it’s OK to be an “Undeclared” Major

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You may have already gotten it, but even if you haven’t, you will soon enough have somebody in your life asking you the dreaded questions: “What’s your major?”

They don’t mean to needle you. People love to know what you’re studying to be once you graduate. But don’t worry if your answer right now is, “I don’t know.” Being “undeclared” is no big deal — in fact, it can actually help you! Here are a few reasons you should celebrate being undeclared.

 

You’ve Got Time

All universities and colleges do their major process different. Some have you apply to a major during your second or third year, while others give you the ability to choose right away. Almost every school has a process for undecided students. In most cases, you’d complete all of your prereqs (and maybe some electives) first and then move on to your major later.

This is a great way to knock out your easier classes first. You get the whole college experience without being tied down to a set schedule, and you’re freer to make your schedule since you’re not trying to stuff in major required courses.

 

You Can Compare and Contrast

For many students, the decision is usually down to one or two majors. Maybe you love art history but you think you could land a job with a graphic design major faster. Or, perhaps it’s two worlds (like astronomy and nursing) tugging at you. Whatever the case, you can be undecided and experience best of both worlds.

Get to know the professors in the programs. Sign up for mentoring sessions with professionals in the field. Talk to those currently in the program or even recent alumni. As an undecided major, you can figure it out without looking back and asking, “What if I was that major instead?”

 

You Can Explore Too

College is all about finding who you are and what you are capable of. But how are you supposed to know that as a first-semester freshman? If you have zero idea where you want to go with your life post graduation, that’s totally okay. Take a look at the class schedules and find something that peaks your interest. Sign up for the class, and see if it sticks. If it doesn’t, do it again.

The same goes with clubs and activities. They can be a great way to open up your mind to new ideas for a potential major. Joining the campus radio station could show you how great you are at public speaking. Volunteering with the Red Cross could get you thinking of pre-med programs. You never know when inspiration will strike.

 

You’ll Get Feedback

Your advisors are trained to help you find your way. They’ll look at your past and current test scores, talk to your professors about your class performance, and give you options on campus that may work for you. Don’t be afraid to use them.

If for whatever reason they’re not much help, try to the career center offices. Most schools provide professionals who are able to give you personality tests and/or career goal assessments. These professionals can help you make a plan or set goals that can get you on the right track towards declaring a major.

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.

 

 

Top High-Earning Majors for College Graduates

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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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