Why Majors Matter and How to Choose a Good One
What’s the point of even thinking about majors before your child goes to college?
In the past standard advice was to experience college for a year or two before settling on a major. However, consider these facts:
- Fewer than 50% of students graduate in four years. Most students end up switching majors, transferring or dropping out. Understanding what you’re good at ahead of time can save you years of wasted time and energy.
- About 50-80% of students change major at least once.
- A recent study showed students who choose a major closely aligned with their interest are much less likely to change their major. (College Choice Report)
Various studies have shown that students who choose a major closely aligned with their interests get better grades and are more likely to graduate on time. (Tracey & Robbins, J. of Vocational Behavior, 2006, 64-89, Allen & Robbins, J. of Couseling Psychology, 2010, 57, 23-35)
A student’s major is more likely to affect their salary and chances of being employed after graduation than the college they went to.
Perhaps your child has known what they have wanted to do since they were a child. Perhaps their interests and strengths have presented them quite clearly throughout high school and they are completely on track to become a doctor, a teacher, or a graphic designer.
More likely your child has no clue what they want to do for their career, and is overwhelmed when trying to determine the best major.
How to Choose a Major
Before your child chooses a major, have them consider the following three factors.
1. Their Natural Strengths and Interests
As we mentioned before, choosing a major that is closely aligned with strengths and interests is the best predictor of college success. This means you can’t force Debbie to become a doctor just because you are, and you can’t tell little Jimmy he is becoming an engineer just because you’ve done a salary analysis of potential majors. Students will succeed by choosing a major they are actually interested in and can excel at.
For a fast and accurate method of measuring your child’s personality, strengths and interests, use Majors Matcher.
2. Any Future Plans and Goals
Does your child dream of traveling the globe? Or do they want to settle down in their hometown? Do they want to start a family, own lots of pets, live off the land, wear a suit and tie every day? Have your student really think about these possibilities and how a major of interest could support those goals.
3. Consider Potential Financial Outcomes
Although not the most important thing to consider, students should be aware of the reality when it comes to future salaries. If your child decides to pursue an engineering degree (with an average starting salary of $60,000), they can afford to go to a pricier school and take on more debt. However, if they’ve decided child development is their passion, they should consider going to a less expensive school so they won’t be overwhelmed with a high student loan payment after they graduate.