Choosing your major is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life because it can determine how you spend the next several decades of your working career.
Although the latest generation of college graduates are expected to switch careers several times in their lifetime, and many people do not pursue a career related to their major, there are several jobs that strongly favor specialized college study like engineering, medicine, or accounting.
Here are 3 things to consider when choosing your major.
1. Is it intrinsically rewarding?
A lot of college students make the mistake of focusing too much on the extrinsic rewards of a career such as the average salary.
In the book 48 Days to the Work You Love, Dan Miller writes “Ultimately, money is never enough compensation for investing our time and energy”.
Do you enjoy learning about the subject you are thinking about majoring in? If you are doing it purely for the money, you may end up burned out and unfulfilled.
2. Do the subjects align with your strengths?
We tend to enjoy working on things that we are good because we are constantly receiving positive feedback. It may not be wise to pursue a major if you find critical topics to be too difficult or frustrating.
The book Happiness Hypothesis describes the idea of “flow” as “the state of total immersion in a task that is challenging yet closely matched to one’s abilities. It is what some people call ‘being in the zone’”.
If studying a specific subject or working on a specific types of projects leads to a state of flow, this could be a good clue as to what major will lead to strong job satisfaction.
3. Are you choosing it for yourself or for someone else?
Many students feel pressure from family to pursue a prestigious major that will lead to success. However, it is often a bad idea to base your major choice on whether it will please your parents.
A major can determine how you spend most of your waking hours for the next 40 years of your working life.
Do you really want someone else to make that decision for you? Only you can know what subjects you enjoy the most and what types of work you find most fulfilling.