Choosing your college major isn’t as easy as it looks. You might not know what career field you want to be in, or there simply may not be a major that’s tailored to your goals. Since your major can have such a drastic effect on your life after college, it’s important to take special care in picking the right one. Here are few dumb mistakes you can avoid that will make sure you start off your college experience on the right foot.
Picking Too Early
Most colleges and universities won’t force you to pick a major immediately. Some will let you go all the way to the end of your sophomore year, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t take advantage of that time to figure out what course of study is right for you. If you’re committed to going to school but aren’t sure what you want to study, locking yourself into something early will only be a waste of time. If your school has a large core curriculum, finishing that right away is a wonderful way to sample different subjects and see what sparks your interest.
Doing What Your Parents Want You to Do
Your parents have your best interests at heart, and most of the time that will manifest itself in guiding you toward what they think you should study. They may want you to follow in their footsteps, or they may simply want to steer you toward the securest career path available. But here’s the thing, they do not have to live your life. You do. If you pick something simply because you want to please your parents, you’re going to be frustrated and unhappy. Our brains resist spending time on subjects that don’t interest us, so that makes those subjects difficult to study. Your parents will be far more upset if you waste time attempting something you don’t like than they will be if you follow your own path and excel.
Choosing Based on Potential Earning Power
Much like attempting to please your parents, choosing a major based only on its potential earning power is misguided. You’re still trying to please something that isn’t you, but this time it’s your future bank account. Yes, doctors and financiers tend to make more money, but that’s only if they’re successful. It is very, very hard to be successful at something you don’t like at least a little. You can certainly develop affinities for things after a period of time, but if you don’t after a while, you should consider something else. No major is a guarantee of success or financial security. Both of those things also come from your own commitment and hard work, neither of which you’ll be able to cultivate if you’re only in it for the money.
Picking Your Passion
Conversely, if you choose your major based solely on your passion, you could also be making a huge mistake. If you have a passion for a certain subject at 18, you don’t really have a passion for it. You have a passion for the idea of a certain subject, but it’s rare that you’ll have enough experience in that particular field of study to know if your interest in it is based on fact. This is where research comes in. If you like the study of history, great! You have an interest and that’s a wonderful place to start. However, think about how you’ll eventually monetize that interest. If becoming an educator is most realistic for you, you should also look into what goes into that career field, too. It may be that you love reading about history, but have absolutely no interest in teaching. If that’s the case, you might want to pick a different field of study that will offer more realistic career goals. If you’re taking online courses at institutions like ACU Online or Adelphi University, you can easily check out what materials will be taught in class and what will be expected of you work-wise. All of this information will give you a better idea if something is right for you versus something that only interests you.