What can help me decide which college major to take?

Some school leavers know exactly what career path they want to follow and have much less trouble in finding the right major to fit in with their plans than most young people who have no idea what to study. You may fall in the second category and wonder: ' Which college major is best for me?'

Don't despair! Choosing Philosophy as a major is not to say that you will become a Philosophy lecturer. Your major normally helps you in finding the first job but chances are that you will change careers more than once. It is more important to select the major that will fit in with your personality, skills, dreams, and expectations, and will still have value even when you make career changes.

You can follow these steps to find the answer to your question: 'Which college major is best for me?'

Get to know yourself
Make a list of your passions and interests. What is that stimulates you? Make a distinction between jobs that you find appealing and those you detest. Do you love poetry but hate numbers? Do you enjoy people around you or do you prefer to work alone? Do you enjoy challenges or would you rather have security?

Distinguish between your skills and weaknesses
Ask yourself: 'What am I good at?' Look at your subjects from school, but don't place too much emphasize on them since your interests may have changed. You can also look at your hobbies, sport, volunteer work, part time jobs, and leisure activities to get an understanding of your skills and weaknesses. Ask your family members for their opinions.

What do you regard as important in a job?
Examine your personality traits and the value you place on people, animals, nature, objects, money, ideas, social responsibility, creativity, teamwork, individuality, helping others, and fame. In answering: 'Which college major is best for me?' decide whether you like working worth numbers, machines and objects, or people, ideas and plans. Do you enjoy helping or informing others? Do you hate routine and love creative thinking, art, music or history?

Examine career options
Investigate what majors lead to various lines of business. Decide whether you want a specialized major or one that will not qualify you for a specific post, but will create a platform for several job applications. Speak to your friends and family to find out what type of job they think suits you. Interview people who are already in a career, and speak to your lecturers. People that are already in the field may give you an indication of the income potential, job availabilities, limitations and majors required. Make use of the library, college career resource centers, and the Internet to gain more knowledge. Consult with senior students to learn more about the requirements and their experience with the subject. Study course brochures of all the majors.

Appraisal of the options
Make a realistic assessment of obstacles such as cost, duration of the course, job opportunities, income expectations, family responsibilities, perceptions and expectations. If you plan on becoming a linguistic lecturer, you will for example, need an aptitude for languages.

Selection
Take what you now know about your abilities, weaknesses, interests and dislikes, together with the research on career possibilities and requirements, and narrow it down to three or four related majors. You should now have an answer to your question: 'Which college major is best for me?'