Why You Should Select Your Major BEFORE You Select Your College
First you take the SAT and ACT, maybe twice. Then you apply to whatever school is around you or your best friend is going to. When you get to school, worry about your social life for the first year. Maybe by the time your second year rolls around, you should declare a major. Right?
While this is probably the path that most college students take, it is very dangerous for your future career. College is often all about ‘live it up NOW!’ but your future self won’t be so happy if you come out of college with a degree that doesn’t work for you. Ultimately, ‘what should I study?’ should be the first question to ask when planning and preparing for college.
Selecting a major can be very difficult, especially at age 18. But, considering your major will later lead to your professional career and means by which to make a living, it is extremely important. For tips on how to select a major, see our Top 5 Things to Consider When Choosing a College Major. The question here, though, is why you should select a major before selecting a college. Actually, the real question is why you need to choose a future career before choosing a college.
First, let it sink in again that your college major will become your future professional career. You will be working in an industry that utilizes the skills and knowledge gained in your college studies. After you graduate, you will not get paid to simply write papers, complete theoretical projects, and solve problems out of a book. Your job will likely be much different from school. When selecting a major for college, you really should be selecting a future career. With that in mind let’s proceed to some main reasons to consider career options before choosing a college.
Not every school has every major! I’m not sure that graduating high school students understand this. Or, maybe they are too busy trying to select a school first to be concerned with their major. Either way, it is very important to take notice of this fact. When I was looking to go to college, I thought in the back of my mind that I would really like to study aerospace engineering. But, I was more concerned about getting into the college I wanted to go to. When I was accepted there, I finally realized that the school doesn’t even offer aerospace engineering! Fortunately for me, I wasn’t too heartbroken, because I like all forms of engineering. But, this oversight could have been a much bigger problem.
Different schools have different opportunities and specialties even within a specific major. For example, many different schools have aerospace engineering. But, some schools specialize in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) versus traditional aircraft. Maybe you find yourself highly interested in this subject during your first year of school, but you didn’t realize that there were specialized programs for UAVs at the school just down the road. Likewise, even if two schools have similar academic programs for a particular major, one school may have significantly more resources and opportunities for that program than the other.
Lastly, choosing several future career options early will help you plan your college career. Do your future career options require a 2 year, 4 year, or graduate level degree? For my future career, is it important that my degree is from an elite college? Is there a way I can start working in the industry of my future career now and get free tuition? Knowing all of these things upfront will really help you narrow down a long list of schools and pick a college that works the best for you and your future career.
There are some bonus perks to choosing several options for majors upfront as well. You can start planning what internships you would like to target for summer breaks. You can look for local companies around your college to work with to gain experience. You can begin talking with professionals in that industry to get advice on college and early career.
Hopefully, you can see the benefits of considering your future career before selecting just any college. Here at College Career Success, we suggest that you pick out 3 or 4 career options before entering college. Being prepared to make the Major decision (pun intended) will allow you a much better opportunity for a successful and fulfilling career.
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