March 25th, 2019
BY GERALD M. BRADSHAW
Bradshaw College Consulting
When should you choose your college major? This is a question that I am often asked by parents and students alike. By the time students reach their junior or senior years in high school, their academic successes in certain areas are pretty well defined. It is only natural then that they will lean toward college majors in areas in which they got the highest grades. Teachers often reinforce this idea by telling students and their parents that the son or daughter "is a natural mathematician" or has a "real gift for English."
A great many variables must be considered when choosing a college home and thinking about an eventual career path. While the strength and notoriety of major courses of study at certain schools will put you ahead when you hit the job market, I encourage students to take their time when choosing a major. Many colleges do not require you to declare until your sophomore year and some colleges offer online quizzes about how to choose a major.
Take your time when choosing a major
Make the most of any general education courses you are required to take because diversifying your knowledge is a good thing. Sticking with the familiar can stifle creativity and prevent you from learning about other fields of study, which — in many cases — may be more suitable to your personality and skills.
Many professional degrees will require early commitment and typically one-third to one-half of the courses you take will be in your major field of study.
U.S. Department of Labor statistics state that the average twenty-something switches jobs every three years and the average person changes career fields two or three times in their lifetime.
Here are some points to consider in choosing your major:
It is important that you decide on your own priorities and goals — remember that this is your major.
Think about future employability. This will take research on your part to determine where the job prospects will be when you graduate. Look for growth industries — information technology, engineering and finance. Degrees in public policy or communications could also lead to a variety of employment opportunities.
Research your future income potential. Majors like engineering and computer science have a bright salary outlook.
When you get to college take advantage of campus activities geared to the major areas of study you are considering. Current students and alumni will give you the pros and cons of a program and professors can speak to course requirements. Remember that there is a good chance that you will change your major at least once when you get to college. Fifty-two percent of students end up with a different major.
I also suggest that students try to get an internship or a volunteer position while in high school so that they can shadow a professional in a career you find interesting.
Your college major may have a lot of influence on what you do for a living but remember that it does not determine your destiny.
Gerald Bradshaw is a top US college admissions consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting.
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