Choosing a major is often met with trepidation. College students may feel pressured to choose a major when they are less than certain about what they want to study. Majors aren't set in stone and students have the opportunity to switch concentrations if their original choice isn't the right fit.
Perhaps now more than ever, there is pressure on students to pick the right college major. In this weak economy, experts are touting advice on choosing a major that gives students the best chance of finding a job after graduation. The National Center for Education Statistics says that in 2007-2008, the most popular majors were business, social sciences, history, and education. According to Capital University, students usually have so many interests that they have difficulty narrowing their choices. Their first inclination is not to declare a major and wait to see if they find their niche.
In general, two out of every three university students change majors at least once. This should give hope to students who feel they need a chance. Here are some tips that should help with the process.
* Wait to declare. Many educators advise waiting a semester or two before declaring a major. Take a variety of elective courses and general education classes that will fit degree requirements regardless of major. A guidance counselor or adviser can undecided students choose courses that might help them find an area of study.
* Take an assessment test. The career or guidance office may offer some of the standardized tools to help students find an area of concentration. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Campbell Interest and Skill Survey are two resources students use to identify strengths and potential paths of study.
* Do your research. If you're considering a new major, talk to your advisor about what will be required of that new major, including classes and other coursework. You can also talk to students currently studying under that major. Knowing what to expect beforehand can make the decision-making process a little easier.
* Talk to the dean. Many colleges and universities have deans or advisors in charge of students in certain majors. They will know the courses required for a degree. Switching majors may involve taking or re-taking some courses that will fit with the new major. It may also mean that some courses that were taken cannot be applied to the new major. This can result in having to take more classes one semester or taking an extra semester to graduate.
* Consider finances. Taking different classes or stretching out your college career an additional semester might cost more money. Be sure that the finances are there, whether personally provided or funded through financial aid.
* Assess whether your major truly matters. Many liberal arts or general studies majors are applicable in many fields. Therefore, switching majors may not even be necessary. Think about continuing with a current major and then concentrate or minor in something more specific.
* Determine if you really need to switch majors. Sometimes the decision to switch majors is made for you. If you are having difficulty keeping up in class or find the courses really do not interest you, it may be time to change. Failing grades can impact grade point average. Dropping a class -- or a major -- is a way to redeem yourself.
* Consider a double major. Students who ultimately cannot decide can choose to study for a double major. This may look good on a resume and show potential employers that you are not afraid of work. It also enables you to study two different subjects in detail. Keep in mind that double majors will mean a lot of extra work and may delay graduation so that you can get all the credits needed.
Choosing a major is seldom an easy decision. Rest assured that if the first choice isn't ideal, students can switch majors successfully with few obstacles.