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Choosing A College Major

Choosing the right college major for you can be a difficult task. The degree course list is endless and with over 3,000 colleges and universities in America, which college degree do you choose and where do you study?

It’s not as daunting as you may suppose.

1. Study what you love

A great place to start is the one or two subjects you love learning about and also consider what you spend your spare time doing.

Many students when they finish college don’t end up in a job that directly matches the course major they studied, which is why it’s so vital to study what you enjoy, rather than a course which may have great job prospects but which you don't like and find difficult to learn.

2. Take your time

Don’t worry if you’re not sure what subject to take as your major, you don’t need to decide for definite until your sophomore year.

You can just enrol at the college of your choice and then decide. As college degrees are four years, use your freshman year to try out different subjects that fascinate you to see which you like best.

The only exceptions are medicine and engineering for which you do need to decide as early as possible.

3. Use online tools

You may find that the college itself has an online assessment tool (many do) to help you decide which course subject is best for you.

4. Location

Do you want to study in a big sprawling city? Do you fancy a campus village life instead or what about the wilderness of open country; will this expand your horizons? It’s not only the college itself but where you’re going to be living that counts.

We all have individual tastes and you need to go for the one you know you’ll be happiest at. 

If you find that you can’t decide which college to apply to and you have the time and money, it really is worth a trip to the campus to see what it looks like in real life. If not a great alternative is the college website. This is a must read for the amazing campus videos and student reviews.

5. Social life

The college itself may be big in size but what about its class sizes, the extra-curricular activities, the clubs and associations, the friends you’ll meet and spend most of your time with?

If you’re learning at a great science university but your ‘out of hours’ passion is performing arts, you need to know if the college has clubs that will cater for you.

6. Cost

The top 50 colleges may have world class reputations and international recognition but they can also be very expensive as well. You need to look at both the cost of your course and your living expenses. Columbia University may have just the perfect course for you, but can you afford to live, eat and sleep in New York? 

If cost is top of the agenda, consider the colleges in your own state. Many of the colleges offer much lower tuition fees for students from within their own state, compared to out of state students. This doesn’t mean you’ll need to live at home either!

7. Transfers

Another option to consider is studying your first two years at an accredited community college and then transferring to a public university. These colleges usually have smaller class sizes and lower costs and are widely accepted by the big universities. 

All this means you can apply to your college of choice without having to commit to a major. However if you do commit to a major and then change your mind during your freshman year, you can always switch over. Lots of students achieve this very successfully. 

8. Additional advice

It’s worth asking for advice in as many different places and from as many different people as you can. Talk to your counsellors at school. They’ve worked with many student in previous years, supporting them through the same choices you’re making.

Chat with family and friends they may have been students in the last few years and can guide you on their experiences.

9. Online research

In addition look for student review sites, social media groups and online videos that give you an idea of what student life is like at college. These are valuable resources. Use them to the max.

The final decision is yours, so gather as much evidence as possible so you can make an informed choice and one where you’ll be excited and thrilled to start your college degree. 

Further information

For more tips and advice on applying to college, please see: