June 30, 2022
5 Tips on how to choose a college major
Choosing a college major, or your specific subject of focus, is one of the most important decisions that a university student will ever make.
A college major can lead to fulfilling and high-paying job opportunities, and choosing the right one will help ensure that you stay consistently engaged and enthusiastic throughout your time at university, and in your career.
But working out how to choose a college major isn’t exactly straight forward. Degrees cover endless different specialisms and the options are further increased by the fact that you can always relocate overseas and study in thousands of different universities across the globe.
It’s all very exciting, if a bit overwhelming.
Below, we take a closer look at how you can ensure that you make a measured and well-informed judgement about which college major is right for you.
- Work out what your passions are
Your major doesn’t just dictate what you study five-days a week. It can also shape your friends, social life and ultimately the direction of your career and what you go on to achieve in life.
It’s therefore paramount that it focuses on a subject that you enjoy and are genuinely passionate about.
Your major should also be able to sustain your interest and enthusiasm for years and years. It’s no good picking something on a whim and then realising that you’re bored of it after just a few months.
Being passionate about a subject makes it easier for you to invest your time in it. You will want to work hard and actually enjoy studying if you care about the subject matter.
Don’t just go for the major that you think will lead to the highest salary, think with your head and your heart.
- Enlist help from the experts
It’s a safe bet that your mum, dad, auntie and every member of your extended family will have an opinion about your college major.
But don’t let yourself be swayed or confused by what other people think is the right path for you.
Instead, seek advice from people who actually work in the industries that you want to enter. They are far better equipped to judge and advise constructively than someone who has never worked in your chosen sector before.
- Consider your future earnings
While salary isn’t the only factor that dictates how you choose a college major, it is undoubtedly an important factor.
You simply need to work out how vital it is to you.
If you are someone who is totally motivated by money, then by all means choose a major that is likely to lead to the biggest pay cheque.
Generally, subjects that focus on technology, science and engineering or maths (STEM) lead to jobs that pay the most.
In fact, according to PayScale data, all 10 of the college majors that lead to the highest starting salaries are in the STEM fields. However, to take on one of these majors, you’ll need to be prepared to work very, very hard and put in lots of hours. Exceptional math skills are also a requirement, too.
So, if you don't find STEM exciting, or if money isn’t everything to you, then maybe choose a different subject that might lead to a lower salary, but will be more enjoyable and fulfilling for you as a degree and a career.
Outside of STEM, other job titles that generally come with a high salary include:
- Chief executive
- Airline pilot
- Computer and information systems manager
- Architectural and, engineering manager
- Marketing manager
- Think about where you want to study
If you’re already set on attending a certain college or staying within a certain area, then that might narrow down your list of possible major options.
Each university excels at different subjects, and ranking systems such as QS World University Rankings [a1] can be very helpful when it comes to working out which institutions are best for your potential future major.
Look at what kinds of majors your top university choices specialise in or, if you’re willing to relocate anywhere to study, look at which universities rank top for your favourite subjects and go from there.
- Don’t pile on the pressure
Finally, it’s important to remember that all majors can be changed.
If the unfortunate happens and you make the wrong choice of major, your life isn’t ruined forever. You can always switch to a different one further down the line.
However, changing your major can mean that you need to extend your studies, so it’s generally advisable to try and make the right decision on the first try.
Abu Dhabi University is renowned across the world for its quality teaching, exceptional facilities and amazing student experience.
It specialises in subjects as diverse as business, engineering and law, and it offers over 50 undergraduate and postgraduate degrees taught across four different campuses in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
Take our free quiz to ‘find your major’ and make the right decision for your future.