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Finding the College Major That Is Right for You

college majorsFor those who are gearing up to apply to college, and for some recent graduates, choosing a major can be a challenge. Per Central College, 75 percent of American college students either start their college career undecided or change their major at least once. They explain, “It’s all part of the process of exploring your options.” Despite knowing this, pressure to decide on a major can mount and trigger anxiety in certain individuals who fear making the wrong choice. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources out there to guide individuals who struggle to choose a college major and their ultimate mission in life.

Many of us have friends who are smart, determined, and driven. A lot of them fall into the 25 percent, and likely know what they want to do in life. Some might become doctors, lawyers, or teachers. In fact, some of them can break it down further into becoming a pediatrician, a corporate lawyer, or college professor. And chances are most of them have selected their college based on the major they desire so that they may succeed in their industry. Seeing how easy it is to make a life choice can make some of 75 percent feel confused. They may question: “Why is my path unclear?” But for those who are undecided, not only are there ways to narrow down interests, but they can also seek support in the decision-making process.

It is the consensus among renowned psychologists, such as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, that people who make wise career choices tend to be in “state of flow,” meaning that they feel fully focused, creative, energized, and engaged. They look forward to greeting each new day with passion, drive, and a positive outlook. Thus, choosing a major that will direct you toward a career that is satisfying, of interest, and with a sense of purpose, is a top priority. However, some people are reluctant to follow their dreams. They may doubt their talents, believe that their dream job is unattainable or too competitive, recognize that the pay is low, and so forth. However, most psychologists agree that people who deny themselves of their dream job frequently report feeling stuck and unhappy. The lesson here is that it’s important to be true to oneself.

Educational institutions as early as high school seek to set students up for academic success. Thus, most offer access to testing to help match students to majors and career fields that can ultimately help them decide what path to take. These tests direct students to jobs for which have a natural aptitude, strength, and interest. In addition, most colleges and universities generally offer classes, counseling, coaching, and presentations to direct undecided students towards appropriate college majors. Volunteering and mentoring and internship programs also provide great ways for students to attain knowledge of various industries and employment opportunities. Many interns gain the opportunity to earn money while working. And there is always the option to consider military service as a career as well.

Choosing a major can be challenging, especially for individuals with a wide variety of interests, and for specialty fields that require early commitments. The good news is that generally, at most four-year colleges, majors do not have to be declared until the end of sophomore year. This allows some time for soul searching and for researching career fields. Students with undeclared majors should consider what subjects they’re passionate about, what they’re naturally good at, what opportunities exist, the academic requirements, and the time, costs, and commitments needed. Income potential and income to college debt ratio are other main drivers for students’ career choices. Sometimes pairing a major with a useful minor can open more fields. Or, by choosing a double major, which requires studying two disciplines simultaneously, a candidate’s skills can become highly marketable.

No doubt, choosing what to study in college will have a significant impact on the future. The last thing a graduate wants to do is struggle to find a job in a competitive career field with little openings or choose a career that offers few opportunities for advancement. Per Best College Review, there are 10 best college majors for the future. These include computer information systems, chemical engineering, medical assistance, medical technology, electrical engineering, construction management, nursing, physical therapy, aeronautics and aviation technology, and pharmacology. Candidates seeking careers in these fields will likely find steady employment after graduation, coupled with future opportunities to grow, and succeed. For example, Best College Review states that, “Among the highest current high earners are people with degrees in pharmacology. This requires a bachelor’s degree at minimum, and salary ranges improve once the person acquires higher degrees.” When choosing a major that will define your path, keep this sage advice from Apple Founder Steve Jobs, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

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