If you’re like most high school students, you’ve begun to narrow your choice of colleges. You might know where you want to study, or at least have a short list of schools at this point. You might know whether you prefer dorm or off-campus living. You might even have considered whether you will join a fraternity or sorority. But for most high school students and college freshman, one important question often lingers, unanswered, longer than any other:
How do you choose a major?
There is no easy answer to this question, but you should begin by investigating the following ideas.
Interest. Which school subjects interest you most? This is a good starting point, although it might be best to avoid taking this question too literally. For example, just because you love history doesn’t mean you should major in history. You might also enjoy political science, anthropology, religious studies, sociology, and so on. View this question as a door that you should open, to visit other possibilities.
Aptitude. Which subjects are your strongest? When people compliment your skills, what do they mention specifically? If you’re a strong writer, this can serve you well in many disciplines. A person with advanced mathematical skills may be well suited to technology or engineering fields. Those with creative skills might find their niche in the arts. Your major should encompass an area that utilizes your strengths.
Viability. What are the job prospects in your chosen field? While this is not always the most important consideration, preparing yourself can help you to avoid disappointment later.
Ideally, we would also major in something about which we feel passionate. We would choose an area in which we can excel, and hopefully that will help us forge a career path in the future. If you need help with this decision, talk to your guidance counselor about aptitude tests. And remember to take your time; during the first year in college, you can always enroll in a variety of core courses and one or two experimental electives that spark your interest.