“What am I going to study at college?”
It’s the question on the mind of almost every high school junior or senior.
And it’s an important question. After all, this degree will be referenced on job applications, resumes, and other credentials.
What’s the process for deciding on a college major? Once decided, are you stuck with your original major?
The Consideration Stage
There are a lot of reasons people go to college and get degrees.
Oftentimes, their major depends on their reason for attending college in the first place.
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Do any of these reasons resonate with you?
- “I’m going to college to qualify for a higher salary job.”
- “I just want a degree that doesn’t tie me down to any particular field.”
- “I need specialized training and education in a particular field.”
- “My long term goal is to attend graduate school for a Master’s Degree.”
Depending on your goals, different majors make sense. For example, someone who has practical experience with coding and programming may attend college to get a computer programming job that would otherwise be unavailable to them without the degree. It would make sense, therefore, to major in computer science or some related field of study.
Compare that to the person who wants to run their own business or move fluidly across multiple fields. They want a degree since it’s a basic minimum requirement for many positions, but they don’t need to get extensive training in one particular field. Generalized majors (think of Communications, Business, etc.) offer flexibility and can be applied to a wide variety of future jobs.
If you want to be a medical doctor, there is a very specific undergraduate path that you can take.
When deciding what degree you want to pursue, ask yourself what your final end goal is.
Is This Final?
Can you change your degree choice after you’ve committed?
Most of the time, yes. Most colleges allow students to change their major during their studies. There are several reasons you may consider changing your major: a new goal or direction or financial or time considerations.
Keep in mind that different degrees have different credit requirements so if you switch majors, you may have to retake some credits if the classes you’ve already passed don’t fit your new major.
What If I Choose the ‘Wrong’ Major?
Maybe you went through college absolutely convinced you wanted to be an engineer.
But then something changed.
Perhaps you couldn’t find a good job in that field or maybe you even decided you didn’t want to after all!
Is your college degree a waste?
Not at all! Regardless of what major you choose and what degree you earn, there are transferable skills that you can apply to other fields. Think about the things you learned while studying engineering.
Of course, you learned a lot of technical skills and information. But you also learned about creative problem solving, understanding and complying with requirements, and working with excellence and precision. You can “transfer” those skills to just about any other job!
Aren’t you thankful for transferable skills and the flexibility that most schools give to students looking to switch majors midway through?
These things help take the pressure off so you can fearlessly pick the major that is going to move your goals forward. Once you’ve determined your college goal and narrowed it down to a few major options, you can get counseling from professionals who can help you put the finishing touches on your decision.
Jace Bower serves as a Content Development Specialist for Unbound. An Unbound alumnus, he has experienced firsthand the powerful advantages of doing college differently and participating in an intentional community. Jace graduated with his bachelor’s degree in History in 2016 and has worked in restaurant management and marketing since then. He also served on the Unbound Student Cabinet in 2019.
The author of two books and a semi-regular blogger, Jace can often be found doing something with words. When he’s not, chances are he’s reading about theology, listening to music, or playing pool or tennis with his wife Shannon in their Virginia home.