Top 5 Things to Consider When Choosing a College Major

Now updated with the College Career Success Podcast!

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UPDATE: Video and Audio Podcast below.

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What should I study in college? How should I choose a college major?  While seemingly docile, these questions are wolves in sheep’s clothing!  Having to choose a major at the age of 18 which will become your career for the next several decades of your life can be extremely difficult and stressful.  But never fear, College Career Success is here!!  OK, lame; I know.  Nonetheless, below are 5 tips to consider when choosing your (first, second, or third) college major.

  1. Engagement- will I be engaged, passionate, and fulfilled?

No, we are not talking about engagement to your dream boyfriend or girlfriend!  You are, on the other hand, to be engaged to your future career in college.  Whether you realize it or not, your MAJOR in college becomes your CAREER in life (typically).  You will want to select a major (career) that you will be excited about today, tomorrow, and in 10 years.  Choose something that you are passionate about – something that drives you – something that gives you purpose and fulfillment.  It is common among all of us that when we feel like we are contributing to the betterment of our community and world, we are more fulfilled (happy, satisfied, less stressed, …you get it).

  1. Earning potential – (HINT! The most possible is not always correct for you)

I Could Save HOW MUCH on college?!?

When you graduate, likely you will be left with little to no to negative amounts of money to your name.  But, you have a college degree that can (hopefully) earn you some money!  That is… if your degree carries Earning Potential.  Three basic things to be said about Earning Potential:

  1. Choose a degree that has it!

This may seem obvious, but there are some degrees that have little Earning Potential and/or a narrow window for potential.  Carefully consider your future financial goals after college and use information available about your potential major (career) to determine if its Earning Potential matches your goals.

  1. Consider the Earning Potential at the time of GRADUATION!

In conjunction with the first point, consider also the timing of Earning Potential.  If you desire to be an airline pilot because there is currently (when you enter college) a shortage of pilots and wages are high, be sure to consider the change in the industry from now until graduation (at least 4 years later).  Things like market/industry fluctuation, governmental legislation, new technology, and competition can all change the Earning Potential of a career.  Obviously, you cannot predict the future, so do not get overly anxious about this one.  But, take time to consider the possible positive or negative effects time will have on the Earning Potential of your selected major (career) options.

  1. Some say ‘more money, more problems

If there is one wrong way to look at Earning Potential, it is probably the idea of finding the major (career) that has the absolute HIGHEST Earning Potential.  Your career should be so much more than just money.  Personal satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy found engaging with family members and friends are all things that no amount of money can ever buy.  If you select a major (career) simply based on the HIGHEST Earning Potential, most likely that major (career) will not be a good fit for you.  Most of our grandparents would all tell us that money, in the end, is not what is most valuable in life.  Although you want to be sure that your major (career) will be able to support you financially after graduation, consider joy and satisfaction in life as well.

  1. Time commitment – what will my work life look like?

Time commitment plays a large part of finding a good ‘work/life balance’.  Consider people that are already in your major (career).  Interview or shadow a professional in that field.  How much time are they spending at work or handling issues/tasks from work.  Take a look at your personal goals for your life in the future.  Do you want to have a family with kids or be able to travel a lot?  How much time will you need outside of work?  Ultimately, consider the time requirements of your selected majors (careers) and how that matches your personal life goals.

  1. Flexibility – how much can I change or shift during my career?

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These days, people change jobs…  a lot.  This is a good thing for the employee most of the time.  You can shift to a role or company that better fits you.  You can try new things and learn a lot of different things.  So, how flexible are your potential majors (careers).  Consider if you desire a career that will give you flexibility and then evaluate your selected majors (careers).

  1. Job availability – will there be jobs available when I graduate?

This goes along with the timing of Earning Potential.  The timing of job availability is something very practical to consider.  Currently (when you enter college), there may be a shortage of oil engineers and many jobs are available.  But, when you graduate 4 (or more for some …) years later, will the situation be the same?  Again, you cannot predict the future.  But, consider how many jobs are needed in the country/world.  Consider how many people will be graduating with similar degrees and skills alongside of you.  Do your best to ensure that there will be a job waiting for you when you graduate!

Hopefully, these 5 tips have been useful.  And, if you didn’t get it, let the point be made that your MAJOR becomes your CAREER!  Choose your major carefully as best as you can and may your career be fulfilling and engaging such that the world is a better place thanks to your contribution!

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Photo Credit: CollegeDegrees360 via Flickr

Jason Taussig – College and Career Advice That Colleges Won’t Tell You!

What are you thinking about when you enter college?  Most students are only thinking about making friends and taking in all that campus and college has to offer as a freshman.  Possibly, they are also still trying to figure out which major to choose.  College is exciting indeed (and a freshman should be excited!). But, if you are only thinking about tomorrow or the next month, you will be severely putting your future beyond college at a disadvantage!  But, don’t just take my word for it…  Let’s hear from experienced professionals making waves in their career every day of the week!

Today’s post is the first of a fresh series that is a spin off from our ‘Wisdom From A Recent Graduate’.  The questions are similar, but we wanted to give professionals who have been in an established career a little longer the opportunity to share their insights as well.  Jason Taussig has offered his experienced advice in what to consider NOW to make the most of your future career.  Be sure to follow College Careeer Success on Facebook to receive every edition of this new series!

 

What is your name and occupation?

Jason Taussig: Assistant Director of Airport Operations Support: Training and Exercise Design

 

Where did you attend college and what degree(s) did you earn?

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Bachelor of Aeronautical Science. Master of Science In Aeronautics.

 

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What did you like most about your time in college?

Life Long friendships, Developing lifelong learning habits, Professional Contacts

 

What did you like least about your time in college?

I enjoyed most of my college experience. I would say early on, the transition into the newness of it all was challenging accompanied with times of feeling isolated.  I attended college out of state w/out anyone else I knew.

 

Knowing what you know from your professional career now, what one piece of advice would you offer to a high school junior regarding choosing a major?

Consider your gifting, abilities, and desires in selecting a major. Don’t just base it off of potential earnings.

 

Why You Should Select Your Major BEFORE You Select A College

 

What is something that you would’ve done differently during college or early in your career?

Taken more advantage of the activities the school offered. It may not seem like it but the years fly by and you may never get a chance again to take advantage of those things.

 

What is something valuable that you learned outside of the classroom at college?

Showing love and speaking encouragement to strangers makes a difference.

 

As a professional now, what advice do you have for college entrants to achieve a successful and fulfilling career?

Be disciplined, be flexible, be resilient, don’t make your identity in what you do. Work on developing character as much as gaining new knowledge.

 

Make Less, Earn More

 

What one thing do college students need to know about the working world that college will not teach them?

Work challenges don’t end w/ a final exam.

 

Thank you Jason for your excellent advice!!  Follow us on Facebook to receive every edition of this series and all of our FREE blog information!

Charity Boman – College and Career Advice That Colleges Won’t Tell You!

“…It was a combination of all those things that made my career what it is today. If I had only attended college, I would probably still have a job, not a career.”

What are you thinking about when you enter college?  Most students are only thinking about making friends and taking in all that campus and college has to offer as a freshman.  Possibly, they are also still trying to figure out which major to choose.  College is exciting indeed (and a freshman should be excited!). But, if you are only thinking about tomorrow or the next month, you will be severely putting your future beyond college at a disadvantage!  But, don’t just take my word for it…  Let’s hear from experienced professionals making waves in their career every day of the week!

Today’s post is the second in the ‘College and Career Advice That Colleges Won’t Tell You!’.  Here we want to give professionals who have been in an established career the opportunity to share their insights.  Charity Boman has offered her experienced advice in what to consider NOW to make the most of your future career.  Be sure to follow College Careeer Success on Facebook to receive every edition of this new series!

What is your name and occupation? 

Charity Boman, Controller

 

Where did you attend college and what degree(s) did you earn? 

Kansas State University, Bachelor’s in Business Accounting

 

What did you like most about your time in college? 

I really enjoyed being surrounded by so many like-minded, similarly focused peers.

 

What did you like least about your time in college? 

What I liked least about college is the realization that the classes only prepare you for so much.  I worked my way through college, took internships, and volunteered.  It was a combination of all those things that made my career what it is today.  If I had only attended college, I would probably still have a job, not a career.

 

Knowing what you know from your professional career now, what one piece of advice would you offer to a high school junior regarding choosing a major? 

I started school intending on being a Chemical Engineer.  I was good at Chemistry; it paid well and sounded like a great career choice.  The problem was I didn’t ENJOY chemistry.  I changed majors to something I actually enjoyed, and I have been successful and achieved my goals.

 

So many students have a goal to ‘go to college’.  The goal should not be going, the goal should be the outcome.

 

What is something that you would’ve done differently during college or early in your career? 

While deciding on where to go to college, I focused too much on ‘getting out of here’, instead of focusing on where I should be to achieve my goals.  Sometimes the best choice isn’t halfway across the country, it could be right in your home town.

 

What is something valuable that you learned outside of the classroom at college? 

I worked, some years full time jobs, during my college years.  This was by choice.  My parents were paying my way, thankfully.  BUT, it was at my job that I realized who/what I wanted to be, and exactly what I didn’t want to be.  As a Jr./Sr. in high school, you don’t even fully understand the variety of jobs and careers out there.  You have to broaden your horizons and open up your level of experiences to know what it is you may enjoy doing.

 

As a professional now, what advice do you have for college entrants to achieve a successful and fulfilling career? 

So many students have a goal to ‘go to college’.  The goal should not be going, the goal should be the outcome.  Decide what you want to be then pick the path that gets you there.  If you start college without a goal, you will not fully utilize its potential.

 

What one thing do college students need to know about the working world that college will not teach them? 

Your degree may help you get the job, but it doesn’t mean you will keep it.  It’s your work ethic that will build your career, your degree just gets you in the door.

 

Thank you Charity for your excellent advice!!  Follow us on Facebook to receive every edition of this series and all of our FREE blog information!

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Jonathan Oliver (The Ultimate) – Wisdom From A Recent Graduate

Our second installment of ‘Wisdom From a Recent College Graduate’ features none other than Mr. Jonathan Oliver.  He has offered his best advice today about going to college and making the absolute most of your investment.   Jonathan is a Civil Engineer, dedicated husband, and faithful Clemson Tigers fan.  Let’s hear what wisdom this recent grad has for us!

What is your name and occupation?

Jonathan Oliver, Civil Engineer

Where did you attend college and what degree(s) did you earn?

Clemson University, BS in Civil Engineering

Georgia Tech, MS in Civil Engineering

What did you like most about your time in college?

Being surrounded by so many new people and all the many many many social situations I encountered every day.

What did you like least about your time in college?

Living in the stuffy honors dorm my freshman year.

What one piece of advice would you offer to a high school junior regarding choosing a major?

Think about the types of classes you enjoy most and are the most successful in.  If you dislike math or physics you probably shouldn’t be an engineer.  If you dislike writing and grammar you probably shouldn’t study communications.  Every school publishes some sort of course catalog every year or semester than lists all the classes available for study and includes some type of description of the class content.  Find a course catalog from a school you think you may be interesting in attending and simply read the class titles and descriptions of the difference majors and see which ones catch your eye most.

What one piece of advice would you offer the same student regarding selecting a college?

First, see above answer on choosing a major. You don’t have to select one now, but start brainstorming several you may be interested in.  While many people may tell you to just start college with your major “undeclared”, you should at least research whether a school offers those degree programs.  For example I was considering studying engineering or architecture when I was choosing a school but then found out that my first choice school didn’t offer architecture and had limited courses in engineering.

Second, go on a campus tour!  Some things are best witnessed in person, and where you may spend the next four years of your life is one of them.  Would you rent an apartment without first looking at it? Probably not.  Start your Junior year with one or two schools you are initially interested in.  These first few tours will begin to help you know what to look for in a school.  I was never really interested in attending Clemson until I went on a campus tour, and I have no regrets whatsoever about my final choice for where to attend college.

What is something that you would’ve done differently during the high school to college transition?

Done more research on all the programs, offerings, clubs, and events my school choice offered before I arrived.  I was almost drowning in information and choices and feel like I missed out on some of the unique opportunities college has to offer.

What is something valuable that you learned outside of the classroom at college?

How to live on my own, be responsible for paying rent and bills, cook, manage a personal budget, and still manage my time well enough to get good grades while being busy with numerous clubs and activities.

As a professional now, what advice do you have for college entrants to achieve a successful and fulfilling career?

Career is the key word here  – think more about what you’d like to get out of your career. Talk to graduates from your major or program and see what type of jobs they have.  Many colleges have career services offices that can connect you with graduates and professionals who are usually more than willing to help current students walking the same steps they did.

What is your best college ‘must do’ either inside or outside the classroom?

Inside the classroom: Get to know the classmates in your major.  They’ll become valuable resources during classes and lifelong friends and professional connections after school.

Outside the classroom: Internships! Not only do they look good on your resume (and you usually earn some money $$), but it’s a great 2-3 month sample of what your career could look like to help make your decision.

 

Thank you Jonathan for your insight!  Also, see our first installment from this series on Mr. Tyler Martin.

 

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Why You Should Select Your Major BEFORE You Select A College

Why You Should Select Your Major BEFORE You Select A College

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.

Check out our other Blog posts for more tips and tricks, and click on Follow to receive our latest posts!  Also follow us on Facebook to UNLOCK YOUR FUTURE!

Top 5 Things to Consider When Choosing a College Major

What should I study in college? How should I choose a college major?  While seemingly docile, these questions are wolves in sheep’s clothing!  Having to choose a major at the age of 18 which will become your career for the next several decades of your life can be extremely difficult and stressful.  But never fear, College Career Success is here!!  OK, lame; I know.  Nonetheless, below are 5 tips to consider when choosing your (first, second, or third) college major.

  1. Engagement- will I be engaged, passionate, and fulfilled?

No, we are not talking about engagement to your dream boyfriend or girlfriend!  You are, on the other hand, to be engaged to your future career in college.  Whether you realize it or not, your MAJOR in college becomes your CAREER in life (typically).  You will want to select a major (career) that you will be excited about today, tomorrow, and in 10 years.  Choose something that you are passionate about – something that drives you – something that gives you purpose and fulfillment.  It is common among all of us that when we feel like we are contributing to the betterment of our community and world, we are more fulfilled (happy, satisfied, less stressed, …you get it).

  1. Earning potential – (HINT! The most possible is not always correct for you)

I Could Save HOW MUCH on college?!?

When you graduate, likely you will be left with little to no to negative amounts of money to your name.  But, you have a college degree that can (hopefully) earn you some money!  That is… if your degree carries Earning Potential.  Three basic things to be said about Earning Potential:

  1. Choose a degree that has it!

This may seem obvious, but there are some degrees that have little Earning Potential and/or a narrow window for potential.  Carefully consider your future financial goals after college and use information available about your potential major (career) to determine if its Earning Potential matches your goals.

  1. Consider the Earning Potential at the time of GRADUATION!

In conjunction with the first point, consider also the timing of Earning Potential.  If you desire to be an airline pilot because there is currently (when you enter college) a shortage of pilots and wages are high, be sure to consider the change in the industry from now until graduation (at least 4 years later).  Things like market/industry fluctuation, governmental legislation, new technology, and competition can all change the Earning Potential of a career.  Obviously, you cannot predict the future, so do not get overly anxious about this one.  But, take time to consider the possible positive or negative effects time will have on the Earning Potential of your selected major (career) options.

  1. Some say ‘more money, more problems

If there is one wrong way to look at Earning Potential, it is probably the idea of finding the major (career) that has the absolute HIGHEST Earning Potential.  Your career should be so much more than just money.  Personal satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy found engaging with family members and friends are all things that no amount of money can ever buy.  If you select a major (career) simply based on the HIGHEST Earning Potential, most likely that major (career) will not be a good fit for you.  Most of our grandparents would all tell us that money, in the end, is not what is most valuable in life.  Although you want to be sure that your major (career) will be able to support you financially after graduation, consider joy and satisfaction in life as well.

  1. Time commitment – what will my work life look like?

Time commitment plays a large part of finding a good ‘work/life balance’.  Consider people that are already in your major (career).  Interview or shadow a professional in that field.  How much time are they spending at work or handling issues/tasks from work.  Take a look at your personal goals for your life in the future.  Do you want to have a family with kids or be able to travel a lot?  How much time will you need outside of work?  Ultimately, consider the time requirements of your selected majors (careers) and how that matches your personal life goals.

  1. Flexibility – how much can I change or shift during my career?

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These days, people change jobs…  a lot.  This is a good thing for the employee most of the time.  You can shift to a role or company that better fits you.  You can try new things and learn a lot of different things.  So, how flexible are your potential majors (careers).  Consider if you desire a career that will give you flexibility and then evaluate your selected majors (careers).

  1. Job availability – will there be jobs available when I graduate?

This goes along with the timing of Earning Potential.  The timing of job availability is something very practical to consider.  Currently (when you enter college), there may be a shortage of oil engineers and many jobs are available.  But, when you graduate 4 (or more for some …) years later, will the situation be the same?  Again, you cannot predict the future.  But, consider how many jobs are needed in the country/world.  Consider how many people will be graduating with similar degrees and skills alongside of you.  Do your best to ensure that there will be a job waiting for you when you graduate!

Hopefully, these 5 tips have been useful.  And, if you didn’t get it, let the point be made that your MAJOR becomes your CAREER!  Choose your major carefully as best as you can and may your career be fulfilling and engaging such that the world is a better place thanks to your contribution!

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Photo Credit: CollegeDegrees360 via Flickr