What should I major in? 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 pass by that same child whom you questioned will realize about 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. This is the high time where the question, “what actually should we major” strikes 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 actually can be highlighted as a “turning point” of one’s life as it has a significant impact on his/her future. Hence, the answer to this question has to be taken wisely.
What should I major in?
When we are deciding about a field to major, it’s not just about selecting a field. It has more depth than that. Selecting a major itself is hard. 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 major 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 select a major that best suits you after taking all these questions into consideration
Why is this selection so hard?
Honestly, if you have a precise determination and a passion about what you should major, then probably this decision 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 about your passion/interests. Also, this choice should have the ability to safeguard our future by generating a good income and should have excellent employment opportunities. If not, the entire effort towards this decision will go in vain.
Hence, whatever the choice that 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, and you have to take risks. But we can look at this selection as a “process”. That means as 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.
This point onwards let’s have a close look at each of these steps.
In this first step, you have to question yourself to have a deep understanding of you. For instance, this is indeed very much 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, then you might be interested in bookkeeping and accounting as well.
Passion is a level beyond interest. In simple words, it is a keen interest.
E.g., If you are dreaming about travelling around the world exploring places, then you are interested in travelling. Now suppose that you have already started making your dream into a reality and have travelled 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 travelling 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 decisions cross with these values, then you might not follow those decisions any longer. Values 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 who is in tested about wealth may surely follow a major in management or engineering. In contrast, 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 around the world to carry out this self-assessment. Both Isabelle Myers and Katherine Briggs invented this personality test to assist people in finding out about their personality type, strengths, career opportunities and preferences. This personality test is based on four different scales, namely,
- Extraversion (E) & Introversion (I) – Way of interacting and responding to the world around them
- Sensing (S) & Intuition (I) – Way of gathering information from people
- Thinking (T) & Feeling (F) – Way of making decisions based on the information gathered from their sensing and intuition function
- Judging (J) & Perceiving (P) – Way of dealing with the outside world
Based on these four scales, the following are the sixteen (16) different types of personalities that you can identify. To give you a deep understanding, some career examples are given for each category.
- ISTJ – The Inspector
- E.g., Business Executive, Administrator, Accountant, Detective, Medical Doctor, Judge, attorney
- ISTP – The Crafter
- E.g., Forensic Pathologist, Pilot, Mechanic, Farmer, Outdoor adventurer
- ISFJ – The Protector
- E.g., Teacher, Nurse, Physician
- ISFP – The Artist
- E.g., Judge, Attorney, Nurse, Physician
- INFJ – The Advocate
- E.g., Psychologist, Teacher, Social Worker, Musician, Artist, Photographer
- INFP – The Mediator
- E.g., Psychologist, Artist, Musician, Actor, Photographer
- INTJ – The Architect
- E.g., Scientist, Engineer, Professor, Judge, Business Administrator, Military Officer
- INTP – The Thinker
- E.g., Scientist, Professor, Accountant, Business Administrator, Artist, Musician
- ESTP – The Persuader
- E.g., Trainer, Sales Representative, Marketing Professional, Athlete, Police/Detective
- ESTJ – The Director
- E.g., Military Leader, Manager, Athlete, Coach, Financial Officer
- ESFP – The Performer
- E.g., Nurse, Child Care, Teacher
- ESFJ – The Caregiver
- E.g., Nurse, Teacher, Child Care, Clergy, Physician, Social Worker
- ENFP – The Champion
- E.g., Entrepreneur, Teacher, Journalist, Television Reporter, Consultant
- ENFJ – The Giver
- E.g., Facilitator, Politician, Manager, Diplomat, Psychologist
- ENTP – The Debater
- E.g., Attorney, Consultant, Actor, Sales Representative, Entrepreneur, Computer Programmer
- ENTJ – The Commander
- E.g., Entrepreneur, Manager, Administrator
To carry on with this self-assessment and to identify the aspects mentioned above of yourself, you can seek the assistance of the following parties.
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 quite less when it comes to selecting a major. The main reason behind this is that parents always do have high expectations from their children, and they always 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 child even though their children have chosen tough 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 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 that you are interested in and which you value about. 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 of 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 quite less? Won’t you have to face huge competition to get a job or to secure your job?
E.g., Being an astronaut and travelling 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 quite 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 about 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 that we have selected to major can have a huge competition when it comes to getting a job. Or sometimes, even though there are plenty of job opportunities, the pay rates can be meagre.
If the employment opportunities in your major don’t provide an adequate income to, what will happen to you? After satisfying a few of your requirements, you will be left empty-handed. Now think this. Think about the family you will have in future. They will have a thousand necessities that you will have to look into. Who will look into your parents’ necessities? 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 dominant that have ample job opportunities along with a right income level and which will satisfy you personally.
4. Selecting a university
Soon after finalizing a major, that will satisfy you personally professionally and financially now you can start seeking for a good university.
The reason why you have to find a good university is because of the impacts of the international rank of the university as well as the quality of the degrees provided. It is often advised by professionals, as well as seniors to select a university with a higher international rank. It’s a measure of the university’s right name. Apart from that if the degree offered by that university is not in good quality and has a low acceptance in the job market, then 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 who is 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 it. The university representative will talk to you about the various aspects in this psychology field such as social psychology, business psychology, counselling 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 counsellors
This type of counsellors deals with clients during the difficult times in their career, like in 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 counsellor 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 the pay levels. They know about the fields with a large number of employment opportunities. Also, they have 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 in your career ladder.
To secure a job, you must do some other professional qualification such as CIMA, ACCA and CFA etc. The more you get qualified than others, the more you can be successful and secured in your career.
Apart from this, it is advised to specialize in a broad major and not in a narrow major. The broader the major you select, 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 more of a broader and a general degree. Hence, compared to a specialized degree like Accountancy, Business Administration degree is broader and can give multiple competencies which are common to many aspects of Business Management.
At present, universities have identified this fierce competition in the job market. To make their undergraduates more qualified over the other undergraduates, there is a new tendency in universities in offering a minor degree along with a significant degree. Few examples for such minor and significant combinations are Business and Economics, Engineering and Computer and Biology and Psychology.
This helps to increase the scope of your primary and adds more value to the degree program that we have selected.
6. Cost-benefit analysis
As we are all aware, a degree program is a four-year program, and there are lots of factors to consider when selecting the correct major, correct university and the correct 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 typical costs and benefits associated with degree programs. (These costs and benefits can vary from person to person based on their field of interest, location and 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. Also, it will be the most economical decision you will take based on your financial abilities, location and other important factors.
How can I be sure about my decision?
Taking the wrong decisions and making bad choices is a part of universal human nature. It is quite reasonable and happens to everyone. Hence, no one can guarantee that one had made the best choice when it comes to a major.
Recent studies highlight that most of the 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 subject 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 the quality and acceptance of your degree. All the hard work, effort and the 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 major indicate that most of the undergraduates who tend to change their major during the first few years at the university have a quicker graduate rate than others. Main reasons behind this are,
- The ability to select the best major as the second choice
After making the wrong decision at first, 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.
- 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 in it, will no matter generate bad grades. This will increase the number of repeats and will automatically create a delay in your graduation. Hence, after making a better choice in the second time will surely decrease these repeats and can make your graduation much quicker.
It is your future, choose your major wisely. hope you got something from this. And good luck ahead. If you want to get more idea on this, click here.