Day 3: How to Choose a Major
Free Email Video Series – Day 3
Here is a summary of what you’ll learn in today’s video.
Like choosing a college, choosing a major can be difficult.
One of the first issues is that students really don’t understand what a major is.
They know that it’s their academic specialty, but beyond that, they don’t understand much about credit hours, the alphabet soup of undergraduate degrees (BA, BS, BBA, BEng, BM, BFA, and more), or the difference between “distributive requirements,” “general education requirements,” or the “academic core” (though often these are terms to describe the same exact thing).
Often students just don’t know the right questions to ask.
Of course, they may have some idea of which majors make the most money. Most understand that being an engineer or a “pre-med” or “pre-law” student seems to be associated with a better standard of living after college than being an education or music major. And while some of their assumptions are on the mark, others are wildly off it.
For example, according to PayScale.com, mid-career government and English literature majors can make more than biology majors.
As another example, students may think that earnings for all majors will rise over time, when in fact average earnings for a Japanese language major will rise much higher and much faster than someone with a nursing degree.
But mostly, students put very little rational thought into choosing a major. As in choosing a college, they make this super-important decision based on whims, suggestions by peers, or whatever seems to be easiest at the time.
However, does it matter all that much?
Statistics seem to suggest that it might not. Only about two-thirds of all college graduates in the United States are in jobs that actually require a college degree.
And of those, only about a quarter are in jobs that directly related to what they studied in college.
Of course, one could interpret this phenomenon as an enormous American propensity to make terrible decisions. Or it could just mean that it doesn’t matter all that much.
Especially when one considers that today’s employers are not necessarily looking for particular professional skills or credentials.
What many companies say they are seeking these days are those soft skills… the skills that allow their employees to build competency, work well in groups, and help solve difficult problems of whatever sort. And most every major can help foster critical thinking, improved communication, teamwork, and the ability to learn quickly and thoroughly.
Even if it doesn’t matter in the long run, it’s still worth developing a process by which to identify the majors that will suit you best. The majors that will allow you to get great grades and to achieve academic success. The majors that will tap into not only your interests, but also your natural strengths.
But here again, once you start to identify the sorts of majors that may suit you best, how do you verify that the substance and structure of that major will hold your attention and allow you to expand upon your interests and strengths?
To help you in this, we will share a “Major Research Assignment” that will guide you through the college catalog or bulletin to dig into the nitty gritty of the majors that intrigue you.
This research will give you the level of detail necessary to get beyond mere labels and your assumptions, and test whether your interest can be sustained over the months and years you will devote to completing it.
And as always, you may have questions or concerns along the way. If so, we again recommend that you connect with us in the College Admissions Experts Facebook Group.
There, my team and I will respond to those burning questions. And it’s likely you won’t be the only one with these concerns: your questions and our answers will help foster a sense of community, and everyone will feel a lot less lonely as they navigate this exciting— but crucially important—decision-making process.
As a special offer to you for going through my email video masterclass, I’m offering you our Roadmap Planning session, normally $450, for only $375—a $75 discount.
So if you’re having problems choosing the right major—or the right school—sign up for the Roadmap Planning Session. This offer will only be valid until the end of this course!
We’ll see you again tomorrow when together we will explore the role of extracurricular activities in the college preparation, selection, and admissions process.