The 411 on Choosing a College Major

By Laura Iglehart, Student at Georgetown University

Choosing a major in college is one of the most important decisions any student makes.

It's a declaration of what you will be planning to do with your career, and it's a decision that should take thoughtful consideration and time.

When it comes to choosing your major, I encourage you to delve into the future. In doing so, you should ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
  • What do you want to be doing in 10 years?
  • Where will you be?
  • What type of people, if any, will you be working with?
  • Will you have attended/be attending graduate school?
  • Will you have other commitments (i.e. marriage or motherhood)?
  • Will you be able to support yourself financially?
  • Will you be happy?
  • How do you get to where you want to go?

After asking yourself these questions (the last one being the most important), make a path that connects where you are now to where you would like to be.

For example, if you want to be a magazine editor, scope out the journalism or English majors offered at your school. Make sure either one of these majors will challenge you and put you on a path where you can find (and be qualified for) relevant internships or jobs that could lead to becoming a magazine editor. Complement your humanities studies by working for a school publication. Interview current journalism and/or English students to get their take on the subject and advice for success. Meet with professors (even if you are not enrolled in one of their classes), tell them your plan and ask for their advice. Who knows, they may even have a few contacts in the field for you. No matter what you intend to do (even if you are not sure), align yourself on a path where you can ask for expert advice and support in order to succeed.

It's also important to take advantage of your individual and your school’s strengths.

Finance has always sounded like a great possible major to me, but the reality of it is not so great. The number of classes I would have to take to complete the major would prohibit me from taking other interesting classes, participating in clubs and organizations and studying abroad (not to mention that many of the classes are math-based, which is definitely not my strength). More importantly, taking a major that would consume much of my free time would hinder the relationships with friends and with those I plan to meet in the future. When I look back on my four years of college, I do not want my memories to be colored by stress and regret.

As is the case at many universities, your school may have some excellent programs, in addition to some mediocre programs. Job recruiters and hirers will most likely prefer majors from your school who did well in the excellent programs, rather than those who exceeded in the mediocre programs. Follow a course of study that plays to your own and your school’s strengths.

At the end of the day, you've got to make the decision that is the best for you. While you want to consider the advice and recommendations from  others, you've got to focus first on what will make you happy in the long term. Good luck with making your decision!

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