How to Know You’ve Chosen the Right College Major

Choosing a college major isn’t easy for everyone. There are a lot of choices, and conflicting information about the opportunities afforded graduates in each program. Adding to the confusion is the fact that most students don’t have the work experience or guidance to understand what concentrations would be a good match. Since you can’t see twenty years into the future, how do you know you’ve chosen the right major now? A few signs you’ve chosen the right major:

Alignment with Career Goals

The best way to choose a major is to find your best career first. Visit your campus career center to learn more about your options, take career tests, and talk to people working in the fields that pique your interest.  After identifying your ideal career path, determine the education necessary to get a job in that field. Although there are plenty of great jobs for liberal arts majors, some students may feel more secure choosing a technical major because they often lead to specific careers.

Interest in Related Classes

Classes -even in technical courses- don’t always give a good indication of what an actual job in the industry will be like. However,  if you have interest in most of the subject matter it’s a good indication that your major may be a good fit. There will always be boring classes and very interesting classes, so you can’t let one course completely influence your opinion.

You Feel Challenged-In a Good Way

The right major will be challenging but not so difficult that you can’t pass despite your best efforts. Just as the right career will be at the intersection of your interests and natural skills or abilities, so too will the right college major. If everything is too easy you’re at risk of getting bored, but if it’s too difficult it may not be the right fit for you.

Positive Experiences with Internships and Related Work

Internships are crucial part of the college experience. Leaving college without at least one internship under your belt puts you at a huge disadvantage, because internships are the new entry-level jobs. Not only do employers expect graduates to have internship experience, but internships allow you to better understand your career interests and values. If you’ve had positive internship and work experiences in jobs related to your major, it’s a sign that you’re on the right track. Be aware that work environment (company culture, coworkers, etc.) can color your view of entire industry, so be sure to separate the actual work from everything else.

Don’t feel pressured to choose a major right away. Take time to research different careers and majors so that you find the best fit the first time, saving both time and money. Need more information on college majors? Read Book of Majors 2014: All-New Eighth Edition (College Board Book of Majors)