Since childhood, we believe in becoming someone we dreamed of. Someone so great. Whenever we ask a small child about his/her future ambition, the instant answer would always be to be a doctor, an engineer, a teacher, or a pilot. But when the time passes by, that same child you questioned will realize his/her interests, likes, values, and passion. Raise that same question from this child now. Probably that answer might have been changed to a completely different ambition. The majority would say that they have no idea. This is mainly due to the unawareness or uncertainty about the field that they like to major in. This is the high time where the question, what should I major in.
Soon after finishing college, one has to make an important decision about his/her future. That is to select a major to shape up the future. This can be highlighted as a “turning point” of one’s life as it significantly impacts his/her future. Hence, the answer to this question has to be taken wisely.
What should I major in?
When we decide about a field to major in, it’s not just about selecting an area. It has more depth than that. Choosing a major itself is problematic. But, have you thought about the other questions associated with this decision, such as,
- What university is best for my major, and why should I choose it?
- Can this prominent secure my future?
How can I be sure whether I have made the right choice?
- Is just a degree sufficient for my career? If not, what else is required?
So, as you can see, selecting a major is not quite simple. It is quite a time consuming and requires a lot of effort. You can successfully establish a major that best suits you after considering all these questions.
Why is this selection so hard?
Honestly, if you have a precise determination and a passion for what you should major in, this decision probably won’t be that hard. Nevertheless, many youngsters think that this decision requires many sleepless nights, restless investigation, and advice. To a certain extent, it is true.
When we are uncertain or unclear about when it comes to the major, we can do something called a “self-assessment.” It will help you to understand your passion/interests. Also, this choice should have the ability to safeguard our future by generating good income and good employment opportunities. If not, the entire effort towards this decision will go in vain.
Hence, whatever the choice you make, it should have the ability to satisfy you personally, professionally, and financially.
What should I do when selecting a major?
As mentioned earlier, selecting a major is one of the turning points of everyone’s’ life. That is due to the immense importance and impact it has on one’s future. Therefore, this selection has to be done wisely. This selection has to satisfy you personally, professionally as well as financially.
This guide will assist you with this selection of a major. Of course, this choice is complicated, but we can look at this selection as a “process.” That means a series of steps. Thereby, we can simplify this difficult choice to make the best choice.
Now, let’s have a look at this process and break it into a series of steps.
From this point onwards, let’s have a close look at each of these steps of what should I major in.
In this first step, you have to question yourself to have a deep understanding of you. For instance, this is very helpful to find out about your interests, values, passion, etc. After that, you can select one of these to pursue as your primary. Let’s have a look at each of these now.
These are the areas that you really love and so keen about.
E.g., If you like to do calculations, you might be interested in bookkeeping and accounting as well.
Passion is a level beyond interest. In simple words, it is a strong interest.
E.g., If you are dreaming about traveling around the world exploring places, you are interested in traveling. Now suppose that you have already started making your dream into a reality and have toured several destinations. Apart from that, you have created your very own website and travel blog to share your experiences. To go further in this field, you might be interested in learning world history as well. This is passion. You have taken a step beyond your traveling dream and made that into a reality.
Values are something that people admire. They have a special place in everyone’s heart, and they are often considered by humans when making a decision. If your choices cross with these values, then you might not follow those decisions any longer. Costs vary from person to person. Hence, being thorough about one’s values is quite essential when selecting a major. Or else, we might have to change our decision in the meantime.
E.g., One might be interested in accumulating wealth, whereas someone else might be interested in social work. Hence, the majors can be different. The one tested about wealth may surely follow a major in management or engineering, whereas the one interested in social work may follow a teaching course to educate underprivileged children.
The Myer and Briggs Type Indicator is one of the most frequently used personality tests worldwide to carry out this self-assessment. Both Isabelle Myers and Katherine Briggs invented this personality test to help people find out about their personality type, strengths, career opportunities, and preferences. This personality test is based on four different scales, namely,
i. Extraversion (E) & Introversion (I) – Way of interacting and responding to the world around them
ii. Sensing (S) & Intuition (I) – Way of gathering information from people
iii. Thinking (T) & Feeling (F) – Way of making decisions based on the information gathered from their sensing and intuition function
iv. Judging (J) & Perceiving (P) – Way of dealing with the outside world
Based on these four scales, the following are the sixteen (16) different personality types that you can identify. To give you a deep understanding, some career examples are provided for each category.
1. ISTJ – The Inspector
E.g., Business Executive, Administrator, Accountant, Detective, Medical Doctor, Judge, attorney.
2. ISTP – The Crafter
E.g., Forensic Pathologist, Pilot, Mechanic, Farmer, Outdoor adventurer.
3. ISFJ – The Protector
E.g., Teacher, Nurse, Physician
4. ISFP – The Artist
E.g., Judge, Attorney, Nurse, Physician
5. INFJ – The Advocate
E.g., Psychologist, Teacher, Social Worker, Musician, Artist, Photographer
6. INFP – The Mediator
E.g., Psychologist, Artist, Musician, Actor, Photographer
7. INTJ – The Architect
E.g., Scientist, Engineer, Professor, Judge, Business Administrator, Military Officer
8. INTP – The Thinker
E.g., Scientist, Professor, Accountant, Business Administrator, Artist, Musician
9. ESTP – The Persuader
E.g., Trainer, Sales Representative, Marketing Professional, Athlete, Police/Detective
10. ESTJ – The Director
E.g., Military Leader, Manager, Athlete, Coach, Financial Officer
11. ESFP – The Performer
E.g., Nurse, Child Care, Teacher
12. ESFJ – The Caregiver
E.g., Nurse, Teacher, Child Care, Clergy, Physician, Social Worker
13. ENFP – The Champion
E.g., Entrepreneur, Teacher, Journalist, Television Reporter, Consultant
14. ENFJ – The Giver
E.g., Facilitator, Politician, Manager, Diplomat, Psychologist
15. ENTP – The Debater
E.g., Attorney, Consultant, Actor, Sales Representative, Entrepreneur, Computer Programmer
16. ENTJ – The Commander
E.g., Entrepreneur, Manager, Administrator
To carry on with this self-assessment and identify the aspects mentioned above of yourself, you can seek the following parties’ assistance.
Undergraduates have a proper understanding of various interests, demands for different majors, pay rates, etc.
Peers are simply individuals of the same age levels. We often deal with them. Even when it comes to our matters, we often tend to seek their advice. It is widespread. This is quite good because you grew up with them, and they have an understanding of you. They can surely help you to identify your strengths, interests, and passions.
It advised seeking parents’ advice relatively less when it comes to selecting a major. The main reason behind this is that parents always have high expectations from their children, and they still want their children to do what they are interested in and not what the child is interested in. When we consider this situation from the child’s perspective, it’s a huge burden to him/her, and it always creates dissatisfaction in the child. This can ruin a child’s future. Nevertheless, one can take parents’ advice because sometimes, some parents can be very understanding and supportive. Some parents back their children even though their children have chosen challenging goals to achieve. They are the constant drive, motivation, and support when compared with other parties.
One of the essential things when doing this assessment is that you have to be you and be true to yourself. Don’t think that you are selfish. Here, you are thinking about making your future successful. It’s a choice about selecting something you are comfortable with and interested in. This is your career. Your future. So, don’t consider what your friends, crush, or partner is selecting as a major. Their major is based on their interests, not yours. So, ignore all the other things and invest in yourself at this moment.
The ultimate result of this step is that you can find a major you are interested in and value. It’s something that can satisfy you personally.
2. Employment opportunities
Once you have completed the self-assessment, now it’s time to see whether that interest best suits you professionally. For that, you will have to see what employment opportunities are available there in the job market for that selected major. If there are no opportunities available, then there is no use in sticking to that major because it cannot safeguard your future.
Let’s have a look at this matter in another way. Assume that the major you have chosen is excellent. What if the job opportunities available are relatively less? Don’t you have to face huge competition to get a job or to secure your job? This point give you the answer for the what should I major in.
E.g., Being an astronaut and traveling to space can be someone’s dream. And that’s what he/she wants to study as a major. But the bitter truth is that not all the universities around the world can provide these kinds of majors. Moreover, the employment opportunities are relatively rare, and sometimes one might have to travel abroad to follow up this dream. Does everybody have facilities and resources to do like that?
Now consider the business and management field to follow as a major. There are plenty of opportunities in that field. If not, one can start up his/her own business and become an entrepreneur.
Therefore, you have to consider the job opportunities available to satisfy you professionally when selecting a major.
3. Income generation of employment opportunities
Even though you have selected a personally and professionally satisfying major, can you guarantee that it can generate an adequate income to safeguard your future? Sometimes, the field we have chosen to major in can have a massive competition to get a job. Or sometimes, even though there are plenty of job opportunities, the pay rates can be meager.
If your major’s employment opportunities don’t provide an adequate income, what will happen to you? After satisfying a few of your requirements, you will be left empty handed. Now think about this. Think about the family you will have in the future. They will have a thousand necessities that you will have to look into. Who will look into your parents’ needs? What about your retirement plan? What will happen if your pay levels are low?
Moreover, these are just a few questions that will pop up in the future. You might face even more difficulties in the future. Will you have enough money to address all these in the future? Don’t let four years of your immense effort in university to go in vain. Select a field to be prominent with ample job opportunities and the right income level, which will satisfy you personally. Still you need to think on what should I major in.
Soon after finalizing a major, that will satisfy you personally, professionally, and financially now, you can start seeking a good university.
The reason you have to find a good university is because of the impacts of the university’s international rank and the quality of the degrees provided. It is often advised by professionals and seniors to select a university with a higher global level. It’s a measure of the university’s right name. Apart from that, if the university’s degree is not of good quality and has a low acceptance in the job market, it is useless doing a degree there. This can affect your qualifications when seeking a job and going up on your career ladder. In this case, all the effort and resources you sacrifice throughout for four years will go in vain.
To assist you with this choice, you can seek the advice of parties such as,
I. University representatives
These are specific people within a university dedicated to assessing the information requirements about the parties interested in the university. They will surely provide you with various degree programs that you can follow in their university based on your interests.
E.g., Suppose that you are interested in the psychology field and you want to major in it. The university representative will talk to you about the various aspects of this psychology field, such as social psychology, business psychology, counseling psychology, and child psychology. The representative will also tell you about the new trends and the job opportunities available in the market to make your decision easy.
II. Career guidance counselors
This type of counselor deals with clients during difficult times in their careers, like job hunting and resumé writing. They are also helping students to find a major by assisting them with information.
E.g., suppose you are interested in IT. The career guidance counselor can help you by providing you with various new and trending degrees required for jobs in that field. Cybersecurity, cloud computing, and management information systems are few examples of such emerging trends in IT.
III. Current undergraduates
Current undergraduates are very well aware of the job market, emerging trends, and pay levels. They know about the fields with a large number of employment opportunities. They have also been involved in this university searching, and they know information regarding which university is best for what.
5. Other courses and qualifications
At present, the job market is very competitive. As a result of this, your four years degree won’t be enough to secure a job. It is anyway a qualification that can help you to go up on your career ladder.
To secure a job, you must do some other professional qualifications such as CIMA, ACCA, CFA, etc. The more you get qualified than others, the more you can be successful and secured in your career.
It is also advised to specialize in a broad major and not in a narrow major. The more comprehensive you select, the larger the qualifications and competencies you can acquire over others to win the job market.
E.g., Consider a Business Administration degree and an Accountancy degree. The Accountancy degree is more specialized in a particular field, whereas the Business Administration degree is broader and general. Hence, compared to a technical degree like Accountancy, a Business Administration degree is more comprehensive and can give multiple competencies common to many aspects of Business Management.
At present, universities have identified this tough competition in the job market. To make their undergraduates more qualified over the other undergraduates, there is a new tendency in universities to offer a minor degree along with a significant degree. Few examples for such little and significant combinations are Business and Economics, Engineering and Computer and Biology, and Psychology.
This helps increase your primary scope and adds more value to the degree program that we have selected. Now you know, how this point helps to find the answer for the question of what should I major in.
6. Cost-benefit analysis
As we are all aware, a degree program is a four-year program. There are many factors to consider when selecting the correct major, correct university, and the proper degree. To make the best choice, you can do a cost-benefit analysis to support your decision. If the benefits of pursuing a degree at a specific university exceed the costs of doing the degree at that university, then one must choose that degree program. If this is the other way round, then one must decide not to continue it, and he/she can look for another university. Always make a comparison among universities. This will narrow down your choices and will eventually lead you to the most economically beneficial decision.
Below are some of the expected costs and benefits associated with degree programs. (This cost and benefits can vary from person to person based on their field of interest, location, available resources, etc.)
- Degree fee
- Hostel or board fee
- Textbook fee
- Personal expenses
- Equipment expenses
- Investment in your future
- Career opportunities
- Financial income
- The satisfaction of yours and your family
- Job security
- Better networking
After successfully going through all these six steps, you will end up narrowing your perspectives, and you will be able to make the best decision personally, professionally as well as financially. It will also be the most economical decision you will take based on your financial abilities, location, and other essential factors. To be honest, this is the unavoidable point of what should I major in.
Taking the wrong decisions and making bad choices is a part of everyday human nature. It is quite familiar and happens to everyone. Hence, no one can guarantee that one had made the best choice for a major.
Recent studies highlight that most undergraduates tend to change their major during the first few years of university. This can happen due to the lack of knowledge in selecting a major.
Nevertheless, it is often advised to change your principal if you are uncomfortable or unsure about it. For instance, consider the school. Think that it is so hard for you to score good grades for a subject that you have chosen. Also, you end up repeating the same issue again and again, even though you by heart it. Isn’t this going to destroy your interest and confidence? What will you do? You will probably end up selecting another subject. This is what happens at the university as well. Pursuing a degree under a condition like this with low grades will ruin your degree’s quality and acceptance. All the hard work, effort, and money you invested in for four years will go in vain. This is the high time where you should actually take a step back and think again. It is advisable to change the field if you are not satisfied with it.
Will this create a delay in my future?
The recent studies about this change in prominent indicate that most undergraduates who tend to change their major during the first few years at the university have a quicker graduate rate than others. The main reasons behind this are,
1. The ability to select the best major as the second choice
After making the wrong decision, one might second guess it after actually understanding his/her abilities, skills, and interests. Hence, as his/her second choice, the most appropriate major can be selected based on past experiences and with a vivid understanding.
2. The decrease in the number of repeats
After making a wrong choice as your major, and yet continuing in it even after knowing that you are uncomfortable and weak, it will no matter generate bad grades. This will increase the number of repeats and will automatically create a delay in your graduation. Hence, making a better choice the second time will surely decrease these repeats and make your graduation much quicker.
So, now you know how to answer for your question of what should I major in.