Choosing A College Major

If you are having trouble choosing a college major, don't worry. Here are some general guidelines that may be of help.

Choosing a college major can be a daunting task. A student's field of study represents not just a curriculum program, but a career decision. By age eighteen, many teenagers still are unsure of what they plan to do for a living. Yet registering for college means they will need to choose classes that will lead to a specific degree.

If you are not sure how to choose a college major, here are some considerations that may help.

1. Many, if not most, first-year college students are not sure of a degree major. In fact, even those who do have an idea of what they plan to study often change their minds at least once, if not more, during the course program. So don't worry if you're not sure what you want to do for a career. You have plenty of time to decide.

2. Meet with your high school guidance counselor. Discuss your grades, completed courses, aptitude tests (if any), and general skills or interests. The counselor may have suggestions or ideas about fields of interest for you. And he or she will probably have vocational statistics or information that may be helpful.

3. Discuss a choice of major with your parents. After raising you for eighteen years, they undoubtedly have an idea of your strengths and weaknesses and may have recommendations about a possible vocation that will fit your personality and working style. Don't make a choice based on parental pressure or an older sibling's success or failure.

4. Get career orientation testing at the university where you are enrolled. Most campuses offer a free career counseling service that includes aptitude and vocational or personal interest tests, along with their interpretation by a skilled professional. The tests, while not definitive, can point you in some useful directions for further investigation.

5. Check the U.S. occupational handbook and other reference sources. Publications like these provide detailed information about various types of jobs, professions, vocations, and careers, as well as the outlook for employment over the next several years. Topics covered in such guides include a description of job duties, employment prospects, salary averages and benefits, and potential drawbacks.

6. Search online resources. The Internet continues to evolve and grow at phenomenal speed. Use a search engine to look for your job interests and find descriptions, openings, and required skills in the "real world" of available jobs.

7. Take general studies courses the first year. Required of all students, classes like English, math, social studies, physical sciences, and history provide an academic foundation for the rest of your college studies. At the end of your first or second year you may be in a better position to make a career decision, especially if you take a few "sample" elective courses to find out what you like and dislike.

Since the average American changes careers about five times, there is no immediate pressure for college students to choose a major the first year or so. Take your time, do your research, and consider various options until you find the best occupational fit.

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