The Difficulty of Choosing a College Major

Joseph Meyer

Choosing a college major can be one of the most difficult decisions one can make especially if you are just finishing secondary school. When I graduated High School, I immediately went to college focused on a career in the Merchant Marines, a program very unique that it didn’t have the traditional college environment.

For one this was a military style school, and when I say military style, you were required to ware uniforms as if you were in the Navy, you had formations every morning and one of courses allowed me to work on their ship that they would sailing in the summer.

My Struggle May Sound Familiar

Unfortunately, it was not the school for me, I was unprepared for not only the academics but the culture of that college, frankly it scared me, and I ended up leaving. A decision I regret to this day, but in all honestly, I didn’t have the support I need to be there. Yes, my family were supportive of me going to college but really, they had no way to guide me and what to expect.

All to often when you get to college you are required to almost figure it out fast, no more hand holding, sink or swim. Well that was not my only decision that involved college and trying to choose a path, immediately after when I got back home, I enrolled in a private college first in a telecommunications program, not for me and then finally a business program.

My Choice Was Not The Best

The business program was broad understandable, and I felt the concepts I could really get, but overall I feel I made a poor choice in choosing that field. Throughout my business degree I always had the sense this field was not for me, so I attempted to make one final switch to a different school in a field in Oceaneering.

As you can see I had a love for the ocean and those fields and really always wanted to be a Marine Biologist but I felt I was just not that smart enough to handle the science and the math, something I struggled with in High School.

Well I then decided to stick with my business program because I was over than half way done and we can say the rest is history. Choosing a Major should not be that difficult and it should be something you feel confident about because this is going to be the field you are going to devote your life too and turn that knowledge into a lifelong career.

Choosing Your Major

Choosing a major is something you want to think long hard about before committing, so if I had to go back I would have gone to Junior College and get my General Education out of the way first and then choose, this would have been a smarter and cheaper choice for me. In a way I regret the school I went to although the education was good, it should have made better choices.

For many going to college there were two types of individuals, those who are already know what they want to do due to years of searching and even having those in your life who have supported your decision, such as a Doctor or Lawyer. I have found from my experience if you have those in your life who represent fields you are most likely to follow those examples, not in all cases but some.

Then there was those who have no idea what field they want to get into and really have to dig deep to study the field that want to be in, looking at their interest, career growth, financial and salary data and looking at your own capabilities and abilities, but really even if you don’t think you are capable you most likely are, you just need to study, focus and devote your energies to that major and you can do it.

Here are some tips you help you make that tough decision:

1. Explore Three Majors Your Freshman and Sophomore Year

Don’t limit yourself to one major, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of majors and combinations of majors, make a good choice. Choosing these three majors should be fields you can really see yourself doing regardless of how difficult you think those fields are.  Your first choice will probably not be your last, you have time, so don’t rush into college convinced you figured it out.

2. Avoid the Easy Road

Don’t hastily settle for letting the skills that come easiest to you determine your choice of major. It might make perfect sense in the beginning, but you could quickly get bord studying a topic that you already know inside and out. Look at Majors that are interesting, but less familiar and more challenging.

3. Consider Student Loan Debt

Not all majors are considered financially equal, for example if you really must be a doctor, consider the cost of how much you will owe once you are finished. Although you may be making a strong income when finished Student Loan debt doesn’t just go away. You don’t want to be in position where you can’t pay back loans because you chose a major that didn’t land you a financially suitable career and have no other options.

4. Your Desired Lifestyle Matters a lot

All too often students choose a major because they love the topic without really considering if it fit in with their life plan or not. The career you choose should fit into your lifestyle, not the other way around. Think about the lifestyle you want to life and career your considering, find people in that career.

For example, if you want guaranteed financial security, travel and vacation time, Philosophy wouldn’t be the best fit for you as a major. Philosophy majors financial security isn’t guaranteed, and you could very well end up working around the clock year round with no vacation just to survive.

5. Shadow Someone Doing The Job You Want for a Day

This is a great way to get an idea of the life this person lives in the career you want to choose. This is something I wish I would have done to give an idea of what it means to be in certain fields like Nursing, Engineering or even construction to name a few.

Making That Tough Choice

These are tough choices you will be making which can be very overwhelming and it can actually almost paralyze your decision making. If you get to that point take a step back and think if even college is the right choice for you. As in previous articles I have written Trade school may be a better option, because those programs are shorter, getting in the job market sooner and cheaper at times.

Other options is just working for a few years discovering what your interests are giving you a chance to mature, no shame in this option.

College is not a one size fit all option and really college is an option that is engrained in us from a young age from our parents and teachers telling us we must go to college. I understand parents are well meaning but all too often we see people succeed on their own without formal college or training, so keep your options open.

There are choices I would have made differently which would have less costly and frustrating because you will get to a point in your life when you reflect and say I wish I would have just slowed down and waited.

You are in control of your choice, so make it a good one, but even if you make that choice and it turns out not to be the right one, we all have the ability of a do over, whether now or later.

As someone who has been out of school over twenty years, yes you read that correctly I now see the errors of my ways, don’t make the same mistake.

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