What major should I choose?
Choosing the right major comes with lots of stress. While you want to make sure that you choose something secure that establishes the groundwork for your future career, you don’t want to choose something you don’t love. But many students remain unsure of their academic interests, so college can be a hard, introspective, and critical journey. To ease the pressures involved in choosing a field of study, you really have to know yourself and who you are. Hopefully, this guide helps!
Questions to ask yourself
What are my favorite pastimes? What do I want to do for work?
Depending on your favorite pastimes or hobbies, you can shine light on fields that really interest you. For example, if you love to play or record music after school, then maybe a program in Music Production skills might help satisfy your career goals. If you want to open up your own business one day, then you can study business. The thing is, for most careers, there is a specific program that will help you achieve the skills necessary to attain your dream position.
How long do you want to be a student?
Sometimes, things like familial constraints might deter you from being able to study for as long as you might want to. In other cases, maybe you know you don’t want to be in school for very long. Depending on how much time you want to spend investing into your future career, then you can narrow down the programs available to you. The most common programs are Bachelor’s Degree programs which universities design as four-year programs. Trade schools and technical education programs offer a variety of different skill-based programs that vary from a few months to two years. Community college also offers two-year associates degree programs to provide students eager to learn with skills necessary to succeed in professional environments.
Examples of Entry-level jobs attained with Bachelor’s Degree
Career: Actuary, Statistician
Career: Public Relations, Editor, Content Strategist
Career: Market Analyst, Research Analyst, Finance Consultant
Major: Human Resource Management
Career: Human Resource Manager
Career: Business Analyst, Business Development Representative
Major: Health Sciences
Career: Medical Technician, Health Specialist
Career: Industrial, Electrical, Civil Engineering
Career: Counselor, Psychologist
The average payout for these entry-level positions ranges from $55,000 to $85,000. The higher-end involves STEM and Business oriented studies.
Examples of careers attained with Two-Year Degrees (Community College and Trade Schools)
The following programs of study are also career paths, so there is no discrepancy between what your major is and what your career will be. Two year programs are more focused this way.
-Construction/Heavy Equipment Operating
There is real value in two-year degrees, credentials, and certificates! The average entry-level NJ Trade School Graduate earns $57,000 after they complete their two-year degree program. This is around the same amount as entry-level Bachelor’s Degree holders earn after four years of school! New Jersey has over 120 trade schools to choose from throughout the state, depending on your location and career preferences, so it shouldn’t be a hassle to find the right program to get you started.
What if I have no idea what I want to do for my career?
There are a few options if you have no idea what you want to do, but still would like to attend a post-secondary program.
If you value the traditional college experience, then your best course of action is to leave your major undeclared. By choosing undeclared, you will gain access to career exploration opportunities and classes that help you figure out what you want to do.
It is extremely important that you go in undecided if you haven’t decided or fully committed to a career pathway, otherwise, you will spend extra time in school doing work that you probably will not enjoy. Going in undecided is the mature thing to do for someone who is unsure of their intended course of study. Leaving your major undeclared shows your eagerness to learn, self-reflection, and courage while demonstrating your ability to set realistic goals.
Degrees in Liberal Arts prepare students to deal with twenty-first-century challenges by practicing progressive solutions. The core outcomes of a liberal arts education include the ability to think critically and creatively, work collaboratively, communicate clearly, adapt to new technologies, and navigate today’s global economy. A skillset like this is not only desired by today’s top employers, but it also provides students with the ability to make creative solutions in meeting the demands of the modern world. Some liberal arts degrees include Sociology, Psychology, English, Communication, and History.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers actually rank skills such as critical thinking and communication over technical skills when it comes to judging one’s career readiness! If you are unsure about your major, don’t stress, because your experience will still be valuable to employers. A recent report even found that over 80% of employers want all students to have a background in liberal arts and sciences!
If you do not care about the traditional college experience, then a two-year associate’s or trade program for which you can also enter as undecided is your best bet. Generally, programs for undecided majors will be offered at community colleges and not trade schools, but at community college, transfers are regular and its relatively inexpensive cost will allow you to explore your options to really figure out what you want.
It is far better to enroll undecided than it is to study something you don’t like. The key to academic success is finding what is right and what works for nobody else but YOU!