Choosing a college major can feel like an earth-shattering decision, and it is. While nothing in life is set in stone, your choice of college major does put you on a specific career path that can be costly or time consuming to change later. So how do you decide? Here are four resources to help high school students choose a college major that’s best suited to them.
There are a lot of different online quizzes that assess you and assign you a field or specific majors that seem to match up with your interests and skills. ACT, the company that provides the ACT test many high school students take in order to get into college, offers such resources. Since every test version is different and some might be more thorough than others, it might be a good idea to take several and see if the same results keep popping up. It’s always important to review your interests and your passions when choosing a college major, as well as the reality of your abilities.
Take Courses Online or from Local Community Colleges
You can test the waters of a field of study by taking online courses, which are now more prevalent than ever thanks to the rise of the Internet and distance learning. Some are even free. For a more hands-on resource, local community colleges offer individual classes you can take. Some of the credits might even transfer to your university of choice. The courses you take in high school will also help give you an idea of what you might like to do.
For professionals or students already enrolled, college programs are a great resource for deciding what your major should be. For example, you might be interested in public service and pursuing a public administration program, so you could meet with, talk to and shadow a public administrator in your own municipality. You could also speak to other students who have completed a degree in public administration or professors of those classes to get a better idea of the type of coursework to expect.
School Counselors and Teachers
High schools generally have a school counselor on staff, and it’s his or her job to talk to students about a myriad of issues, including the choice of college and college major. Your teachers, who should know your personality and academic performance well, can also give you advice. They’re usually quite happy to talk with students!
There are a lot of majors to choose from and a lot of different universities that offer different types of programs. But there are ways to narrow your list of possibilities down by evaluating your passions and skills, taking classes and talking to people “in the know.” Remember, you can always change your major later, and many colleges even discourage early major selection to give you time to make a good choice.
Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. Hannah recommends getting a masters in public administration online through the University of San Francisco.