How To Choose A College Major When You Are Undecided

three college students wearing backpacks walk up steps on campus

Trying to choose a major can be almost as daunting as choosing a college. There are just as many questions and important aspects to consider. What are my interests, my passions, my values, what are my abilities, and what do I want to do for the rest of my life? These are deep topics to consider about yourself and your future.

Here at Your College Sensei, you won’t hear me say the best way to decide on a major is to “find your passion”. That’s not what I’m going to lead with because unfortunately sometimes our passions are not enough. I’m not saying passion shouldn’t be pursued. I’m saying that sometimes our passions are not employable and they won’t earn us a good income. Therefore, I’m going to ask you to put passion aside and focus on practicability.

How To Choose A College Major

I’m going to make this super easy for you. Choosing a major can be broken down into two important factors, earning potential and employability. It’s important to understand that majors contain a value. This may seem obvious as you are paying for them. But it goes beyond that, they have the power to affect your income for the rest of your life. Simply put, some earn a lot of money, and some don’t. What do you want to put your time, energy, and money into?

The goal is to have your major lead you down a path that will support your desired lifestyle, including your hobbies and your passions. No one wants to graduate college and struggle to find a job. Or find a job, but one that doesn’t pay well. The last thing I want for you is to work hard, get through college, and then not be able to find a decent job. That’s why I’m going to point you in a direction that when you graduate you will be in demand and on your way to becoming a higher earner, creating a very successful career, and achieving your lifestyle goals.

Community College Is A Great Steppingstone

Community college is a good way to help recent high school graduates ease into college life, get an idea of what they want to study, and build effective learning habits before transferring. For those students who are not sure what they want to major in, taking Gen Ed classes might expose you to something that interests you and help you declare your major. Therefore, community college can also help you choose a major.

the word passion written in white. The background is a empty street at nighttime

A Note To Parents

When you are helping your student choose a major be very mindful. Asking a young adult what their passion is will put a lot of stress on them. Most students at this age haven’t a clue what they are passionate about or what they want to do with the rest of their lives. This is normal. The stress of having to make such a big decision can put an immense amount of pressure on a student. Not knowing what their passion is or feeling bad for not having any can be stressful too. Being under such intense pressure can have serious consequences—anxiety, burnout, self-esteem issues, depression, etc.

Instead, I encourage you to guide them with practicality. Being practical teaches your child to lead with their head and not their emotions. You don’t want emotions overshadowing their decision. They might choose something because it feels good, or they are just picking something because it’s easy, or because it’s what they think is expected of them. The problem with this is how we feel will change over time and this can be difficult when they are several years into college and want to change their major.  

Encourage them to select a major that provides job security and a strong income. Hopefully, it will fuel their passion. If not, they can try and make it their passion. If that doesn’t happen, that’s okay. Passions that are not high-earning and employable can be enjoyable hobbies, perfect volunteer opportunities, or even profitable side hustles, there’s plenty of room in life for both.

Parents, your support and guidance are vital to your student. According to recent studies, students with family support are more likely to succeed academically than those without them. Here are some tips, Family Support When Going To College Is Crucial.

Commitment And Motivation

When I started college, I had no idea what I wanted to major in or what I wanted my career to be. When I took my first business class at community college, I enjoyed it, but I was far from passionate about it. Even when I transferred and was in my major, Business, Entrepreneurship, I didn’t feel passionate. I enjoyed my classes and learning about business but felt more of an interest than a passion.

I’ve earned three degrees in 4 years, AS in Business, BS in Business Entrepreneurship, and my MBA in Entrepreneurship and Global Business. It wasn’t passion that drove me, it was the commitment, determination, and desire to graduate. I also wanted to get out in the world and start working. When I graduated with my BS degree, I was hired by a Fortune 500 company. It was once I started working in the industry that my passion for business began to grow. I thrive in the corporate world. I like the fast pace, the challenges, leading and developing projects, team building, problem-solving, and the bottom line. I would have never known I had a passion for business until I was able to experience it.

Don’t stress over what your passion is or isn’t. You have time to discover and develop it. What you do need is a commitment to earning a degree and the drive and motivation to obtain it, passion isn’t always necessary.