4 Insider Strategies for Selecting the Best College Major

There are thousands of careers to choose from.

Laying the path for many of them, particularly those that require candidates to have a college degree to their name, entails choosing the most appropriate major in college.

Small colleges can offer fewer than 50 majors, while big ones can have as many as 200 majors or more.

It’s not just the sheer number of undergraduate majors to choose from that can complicate the selection process but also the career possibilities that align with your personality and interests.

Narrowing down the list of college majors is hard for many college-bound students.

To determine which among your shortlisted majors to opt for, decide on a career path you would like to take and ask successful people about how to narrow down college majors.

Additional considerations are the academic challenges the college major comes with and its cost.

Related Article: What Does Pre-Major Mean?

Decide on a Career First Before a Major

Not everyone knows what they want to do for a living.

Similarly, not everyone who knows what their career options are has a top choice.

Whether you have two or two dozen careers in mind, in some instances, it’s a good idea to determine which college majors can help you make each of those professional dreams become a reality.

However, it’s not always that working backward is a simple task.

For example, if you want to become an accountant, then majoring in accounting is the way to go. Or, if you want to work as a mechanical engineer, then majoring in mechanical engineering makes perfect sense.

Things can get complicated for some careers.

Are you seeing yourself as a real estate agent someday?

Believe it or not, some colleges and universities have a real estate major, and some examples are:

  • Florida State University
  • Marquette University
  • Old Dominion University
  • University of Northern Iowa
  • Villanova University

Some business schools also offer a real estate major to their undergraduates.

However, majoring in real estate is not the only option — various majors also equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to become a real estate agent trusted by buyers and sellers alike.

Here are some wonderful majors to consider if you are planning on working as a real estate agent:

  • Business Administration
  • Communications
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing
  • Psychology
choosing major

Meet With an Expert for Advice

Can’t decide between two seemingly similar university majors?

Can’t figure out which focus of study is right for you between two completely different ones?

Besides an academic advisor, no one can shed light on your college major-selection dilemma better than someone who once decided on a college major and is now reaping the perks.

Suppose that you want to become a graphic designer one day.

The graphic design major is the obvious choice.

However, you are more interested in either visual communication or web development because they have elements that align with your interests and secondary career options.

Look for some of the most successful graphic designers you can find and ask if you could interview them — don’t be too shy to ask critical questions and for their opinion on which college major you should consider more.

Are you willing to go the extra mile?

Check if job shadowing is possible. Doing so will help you obtain a first-hand experience of what it’s like being a graphic designer, thus allowing you to pick the right academic major once and for all.

The best way to choose between two dissimilar majors is to interview two people who majored in them.

Find Out the Difficulty Level of Each Major

It’s not enough that you are interested in a particular major of study.

It’s also a must that you’re willing to invest enough of your time and energy in your studies to meet your college major requirements and earn your undergraduate degree.

Some disciplines of study are harder than others.

The consensus is that some of the most challenging ones are STEM majors, with physics, biological sciences, computer science, information technology, and various engineering majors topping the list.

So, just how hard STEM majors are?

Based on data from the Student Research Foundation, around 60% of undergraduates drop out of STEM programs — the average dropout rate for college students across all programs is only 33%.

However, it doesn’t mean you should cross an area of concentration out of your list because it’s hard.

Instead, ask yourself how much work you can devote to it.

Consider various factors that can impact your postsecondary education unfavorably, including those that are just as important to prioritize as your homework, exams, projects, etc.

Do you have to keep your full-time job?

Do you have kids to look after?

Do you trust your time management and organizational skills?

Before making a decision, determine how much work the college major will require from you and how much work you can give in exchange for a bachelor’s degree.

Related Article: 19 Most Stressful College Majors and How Much They Pay

Check If You Can Afford the Major

Some majors are indeed more difficult.

It’s also true that some majors are more expensive than others.

Some of the costliest college majors are also the most challenging, especially STEM-related ones.

A major may be pricey because the college or university offering it is expensive. It may also be costly because it’s in a department that charges higher tuition and fees.

Generally speaking, the following are some of the reasons why some majors are costlier:

  • Small class sizes
  • Competitive faculty members
  • Requirement for specialized resources

However, the return on investment (ROI) for costly majors is good.

high paying majors

Education Next says that degree programs that require higher instructional expenses also often produce graduates who generate more money than almost everyone else.

Take electrical engineering majors and English majors as examples.

As with cost per credit hour, electrical engineering is costlier than English by as much as 90%.

However, one year after graduation, electrical engineering majors earn more than double the salary English majors make — $63,000 vs. $31,000 — and by up to 83% after 15 years.

Throughout their careers, they have substantially higher average salaries than English majors.

If cost is a crucial component of the college major-selection process, remember to take note of ROI and how much money you could make every year and for your entire lifetime.

Student debt is a consideration, too — will you spend most of your earnings to pay off your debt?

Read Also: Can You Have Multiple Majors and Minors in College?

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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