Today, high school. Tomorrow, graduation. Most people view high school as a transitional period in students’ lives. High school students conquered AP class and the SAT while balancing extracurricular activities, and can now look forward to their next steps in life. This transitional phase begins with researching colleges and answering the big question, “which college major fits best for me?”
Depending on a student’s readiness to commit to a major, surveys estimate about 20 to 50 percent of students enroll in college without declaring a major first. There are different academic paths for every student, but eventually, there is one major (or even two) that feels right. Whether students want to pursue a degree in criminal justice or biology, we’ve rounded up some helpful tips to help high school students and college freshmen select the perfect college major.
Picking a college major requires research to determine the right path because it eventually benefits students’ careers and lifestyles. As a part of the research, college-bound students should write out the options for the best schools to narrow down positives and negatives of each. When choosing between colleges, principal factors should include financial aid packages, internship opportunities, and most importantly degree programs. The different degree programs allow students time to ponder which major is the best for them.
Ultimately, high school students respond to colleges that have a variety of degree programs to choose from. However, some students face some difficulty finding the difference between institutions even when colleges suggest a path to explore. For example, if two universities offer Business and the student can’t make up their mind about a concentration, like Accounting or Economics, one university may have a path of prerequisites that fulfill requirements for a concentration. The student is more likely to choose a university like described above because it gives them a variety of programs to choose from.
If this technique doesn’t work then try the “16 Personalities” test, also known as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The questionnaire reveals 16 different personalities that exist and may guide students in the right direction. This personality test helps to point out “why you do the things the way you do” and how it can impact lives all based on social attitudes, relationships, careers, and more. These factors may positively affect students’ futures, such as networking with professors and guest speakers. The test could make students more self-aware of how they act in work and school environments, maintain connections with colleagues, and advise them on what kind of career to seek.
When a student chooses a college major, they must consider critical factors such as personality, interests, and performance in high school courses. If there are courses that college-bound students enjoy and excel in, then these courses most likely have a common factor and can help narrow down a choice for a college major. For example, when students perform well in subjects like science and math, they may excel as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) majors. Conversely, students with a passion for creativity should consider majoring in English or Art. But the possibilities don’t end there! When a student has superb STEM and artistic abilities, they may consider a career as a graphic designer or work in video production. Therefore, a college major could benefit students in figuring out their desired career paths.
High schools have experienced counselors that can guide students each year through graduation. These counselors are an important tool for anyone picking a college major as it can help to talk and visualize which major could be possible to pursue. Counselors can also suggest which teachers are the right fit for recommendation letters, and which extracurriculars can benefit a student’s traits while writing essays. These guidance counselors can also ask high school students to reach out to college counselors to address specific concerns and showcase high school alumni that had similar possibilities and choices to make.
Deciding a college major the first time may end up being the right fit for some students, but that first choice isn’t always accurate. Interests are always changing for young students and it’s normal to change a college major; an estimated 3/4 of students change their major at least once before graduation. It could be beneficial for students who aren’t confident in their choice to reach out for help from academic advisors. There are also many resources such as alumni, friends/family who are in college, and parents can provide support and clarity in a gray time. Make sure to take advantage of our helpful resources and continue researching different college majors by interviewing seasoned professionals and conducting searches to explore possible careers for the best fit.