For many 15- to 19-year-olds, the answer to that question will ultimately influence a large part of their future. It will affect their first job out of college, what city they will live in, who they will generally hang out with and what quality of life they will have. Feeling some pressure yet?
The truth is, this decision is supposed to be fun, and exciting, and yes, scary! But a student’s initial choice is usually not set in stone. Many sources report that 80 percent of college students will change their major at least once. So remember, it’s okay to start out as Deciding instead of declaring a major right away. Perhaps that lessens the pressure.
There’s no perfect formula or equation to determine what one’s major and career should be. However, there are resources to help guide you. At the University of Nebraska at Kearney, the Academic and Career Services office advises students to take the FOCUS-2 Career Assessment. This test is designed to help them select the right major and develop a career plan.
“FOCUS-2 is a site where students can search for career information based on industry, job title, and related majors,” says Aaron Estes, Associate Director for Academic and Career Services at UNK. “The site has several assessments that connect students to careers based on their interests, personality, values and skills. Students have access to a great deal of information that allows them to make educated decisions related to major selection.”
Even with these resources, the choice is still up to you.
Here are a few other things to consider:
1) Know your skills and interests. Take an honest look at the subjects and skills you are best at and be realistic with your strengths and weaknesses. Also, think about the activities, courses and topics that inspire you. Are you more social, artistic, investigative, conventional, enterprising, realistic or other? Answering questions like these will point you in the right direction.
2) Don’t just think about life right now or right after college. Think into the future. Remember that your lifestyle will change over time. Your career path should cater to your life and offer a nice balance between work, family, hobbies and everything else.
3) Consider what type of community you prefer and how flexible you are with where to live. Certain fields require people to move…a lot… to advance. Then there are those fields that present opportunities to settle down and stay in one spot for years. Some careers are most accessible in big cities. Others are more prevalent in smaller communities. Which sounds more appealing to you?
4) Find out what the job market is like in your chosen field. For example, in Nebraska, there is a significant shortage of nurses. That means ample opportunities for work right out of college for nursing students. Ask your prospective college or university for a list of majors with high job placement. At UNK, many programs have a job placement rate that’s at or near 100 percent, including Accounting, Athletic Training, Education, Computer Science and Information Technology, Graphic Arts, Industrial Technology, School Psychology, and Speech-Language Pathology.
5) Remember it’s not always about money. Yes, that’s the primary reason we all work – to earn a living. But it’s more than that. Like the saying goes, “If you like what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” There are many career fields that are so rewarding in more ways than a paycheck. If that’s important to you, choose a major that will allow you to make a difference for others, regardless of what the average starting salary is. We’re looking at you, Teacher Education majors!
So what are you going to do with the rest of your life? It’s a major decision. Take your time and be smart about it. Making the right choice will help lead to an enjoyable college experience and, hopefully, a happy life.
At this point, if you’re still not sure what to choose for a major, go through this list of programs. Something may jump out at you that haven’t even considered.