The basics
Study abroad : Applying to University

How to choose the best major for you

Thinking of taking your degree, but no idea which Major to pick? Read our guide for tips on how to pick the right major just for you…

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You’re finally done with your A Levels or diploma, now everyone is urging you to go get that degree. But what major should you pick? These days choosing a major feels like the most important decision of your life! According to everyone that you meet, what you studied in college/university will determine your career path, life purpose and whether or not you will be happy and successful for the rest of your life. If you’ve looked through articles such as “Top 10 Majors that will Guarantee You Success in Life” and the like and realise that none of the majors appeals to you or discover to your horror that the major that you do want to pursue is in the “Least Employable Majors” list, it’s understandable that you’re freaking out right now.

Don’t.

Emily Kennelly, an advisor at Florida State’s career center said this- “Employers hire people, not majors”. Prospective students need not worry too much about the major that they’re taking, because it’s more important to recognize your strengths and skills and being able to market them to an employer.

 

You don’t necessarily need to major in business to do business- you just need to possess the related skills required for the job. “Depending on the industry that you plan to pursue, your undergraduate major might not matter as much as your transferable skills, college experiences and how you convey or market this information to an employer. Now, if you want to be a nurse- you probably need to major in nursing,” Kennelly said.  Aside from knowledge or technology specific jobs, most majors and careers are fluid. If you ask around, you’ll find that there are a lot of people who end up in careers that are completely different from their majors and are doing well and happy! “75 percent of careers don’t require a particular major. Most occupations are looking for a certain skill set,” said Linda Burns, an advisor for undecided students at Florida State.

She termed such talents as “soft skills”, these are not skills that you learned in trigonometry, but they are the perseverance you developed when your homework got hard, leadership skills from your Drama club or what you picked up when you volunteered at a children’s summer camp the year before. Learning the most effective way to get a group of excited, screaming children into a dining hall can teach you things such as “patience” and “people skills” which are some of the skills that potential employers look for.

Burns added that students would be very lucky to be sure about the major at the age of 18. She advised students to-“Live life. Collect experiences. You never know what experience you have is going to put you in the direction of a career.” Even if you feel like you have everything all sorted out as soon as you enter the college campus, you will never be able to predict how your college years will shape, challenge and even change you.

 

Making an effort to try out new activities and discover new interests will provide you with the opportunity to learn more about yourself. For example, if you’ve never gone hiking, you might realize that you love looking at plants and annoying your friends by reciting their scientific names.  This could then lead to you volunteering at a nature center and might motivate you to take up a career in environmental preservation. The possibilities are endless! Or, you might discover that any job that does not involve air conditioning is a no-go. Either way, you’ll definitely learn more about your preferences and your limits.

Burns also said that the biggest mistake students can make is having a lack of knowledge before picking a major- both self-knowledge and knowledge of what the major involves. That’s a lost piece sometimes, students don’t consider what major is right for them.” Kennelly said many students pick their major because their parents told them to instead of choosing one based on their own skills, capabilities and values.

To sum it up, when looking at the college and course application, think about who YOU are. What are your strengths? Are you a whiz at math? Are you fantastic with languages? Do want to learn more about how societies evolve? Once you’ve narrowed the courses that you’re interested in, take a look at their syllabus and see if the modules covered are ones that you’d want to learn. All these will help lead you to the major that is most suited to you and your needs.

 

Contemplating studying abroad? Check out the courses available here.

Or download a university’s prospectus now!

 

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About Author

A fan of anime and all things Japanese, Khai has been writing professionally since 2010 and “unofficially” for much longer. In her free time, you will often find her baking, reading, travelling and doing everything else in between.