Choosing a University Major: Things to Consider Before You Decide
(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Al-Fanar Media).
Choosing a university major is an important decision for young people just entering higher education.
Some may get caught up in the thrill of finishing high school and going to university, and take it too lightly. This may lead to regrets. In hindsight, many college students wish they had taken a step back and thought more critically about what they actually wanted from the next four years of their lives.
Others find choosing a major unduly stressful. They worry about how their choice will convert into a profession in the future.
So let’s look at this problem in more depth, starting with some definitions.
Main Study Area
Your college major is your chosen field of study. You’ll also take a group of courses in a field such as mathematics, philosophy, or political science, in addition to some other general required courses.
Majors can be divided roughly in four studying areas:
Business. This category includes accounting, economics, finance, management, and marketing.
Humanities. This area includes art, history, languages, literature, music, philosophy, religion, and theater.
Natural and applied sciences. This group includes biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, geology, mathematics, physics, and medicine.
Social sciences. This group includes anthropology, education, geography, law, political science, psychology, and sociology.
Some students choose majors based on the possibility of good pay and job demand. Others are guided more by subjects they are interested or proficient in. Ask yourself which is most significant to your goals.
However, these are not the only majors from which to choose; you can also select a specialty programme that crosses disciplines as your major.
A good example of such programmes is biotechnology, which may involve courses in the faculties of science and agriculture. This field addresses fundamental biological principles, their application, and analysis in specialised areas like medical biotechnology, environmental biotechnology, bio-processing, industrial microorganisms, and agricultural biotechnology.
Digital media engineering and technology is another “new” major and an example of a programme with a number of different focuses. Students may tailor their major to emphasise areas like web development, game development, animation, audio-visual content creation, and virtual or augmented reality, for example. The demand for competence in these fields is skyrocketing as tools that serve the needs of the information age continue to evolve and improve.
Questions to Ask
Before choosing your major you should ask yourself a set of questions to help you to make the right decision. Following are some suggestions:
What are your top priorities in life?
Some students choose majors based on the possibility of good pay and job demand. Others are guided more by subjects they are interested or proficient in. Consider these three elements—economic benefit, interest level, and aptitude—and ask yourself which is most significant to your goals before deciding on a major.
What are your passions?
According to studies, students perform better in school when they may focus on their passions. Unfortunately, identifying one’s interests is not always straightforward for a student. Your academic advisor could help you in doing so. One of the most significant actions you can take while deciding on a major is to consult with your academic advisor. They’ve had hundreds of similar interactions with undergraduates and can offer valuable advice on choosing a major. Your advisor may even suggest a major that suits your academic and career goals that you hadn’t considered before.
What do you excel at?
Understanding your inherent capabilities can go a long way toward assisting you in making an informed and confident decision. Your parents may have wished for you to be an engineer, but what if you prefer business or the arts? Examining your high school grades is one way to determine which academic subjects are most suited to you. This can help you to emphasise your academic talents in specific subjects.
Some degrees may seem more difficult than others, due to factors like homework loads, course expectations, and exam frequency. Make sure you realise how demanding your workload will be before declaring a major.
What are the most promising careers?
Determine how important pay and salary potential are in your decision-making process when deciding which degree to pursue. Pursuing a degree in a STEM-related field may appeal to you if you’re motivated by high salaries.
However, some students value the importance of their work over the pay package; they don’t desire a job solely for the money. Human services, education, and the creative and performing arts are examples of non-STEM degrees that students are enthusiastic about.
Will the coursework be too exhaustive?
Some degrees may seem more difficult than others, due to factors like homework loads, course expectations, and exam frequency. A considerable amount of your college course load will be made up of core classes (i.e., classes directly connected to your major). Make sure you realise how demanding your weekly workload will be before declaring a major.
Prepare for Plan B
After declaring a major, you may conclude that the subject is not what I want to study and to have a career in. What do you do then? You should prepare for Plan B.
If you have the option to change your major, do so, even if it means delaying your graduation. If you can’t, you need to take a more long-term approach to your education. The first year of engineering, for example, may appear monotonous, but after that, you are free to choose your specialty. It’s simpler to find something you like in some majors, since they’re so broad.
If you’re nearing the end of your major, switching may not be a good idea. You may feel as if the move will be a significant step back, and that the classes you’ve taken will have been a waste of time and money. Changing careers for graduate school can be a fantastic solution. You’ll finish your undergraduate degree and then go on to graduate school to pursue something that truly interests you. This course is simple to follow and will still prepare you for the career you desire.
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Always remember that if you truly want to, you can acquire your degree, then start your career in another occupation of your choice. You may have to take additional courses or short-term certifications, but it’s a viable option if you don’t enjoy your major.
Finally, while picking a major is an important decision, picking the wrong one is not the end of the world.
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