Find a College – Finding a Major

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Choosing a college major can be overwhelming to many students.

While many schools offer hundreds of choices, it can be a challenge to pick one and even two for that matter. It is a big commitment, but it's not a life sentence: Many graduates pursue careers that aren't directly related to their college majors, or change careers after several years. You will spend a lot of time studying whatever subject you choose, and there are a lot of factors to consider before you commit. Don’t forget MDgo4it has a search feature that will assist you in finding what colleges and universities offer your interested major here in Maryland!

Choosing a Major

The major you choose will neither predict nor guarantee your future. Many graduates find jobs that have nothing to do with what they studied in college. You may change career fields more than two or three times in your lifetime. Try not to worry that choosing a college major will lock you into a specific career for the rest of your life.

If you intend to earn a professional degree (like an MD) after college, you will probably need certain courses under your belt. But many future doctors, presidents, CEO, and executives major in non–related fields. You should give yourself ample time to try a diverse set of classes in your first year or two of school before deciding what field of study most appeals the most.

Declaring a Major

While college officials tend to agree that students should wait before they make a decision that has the potential to affect the rest of their scholastic and professional lives, they shouldn't wait too long—unless they've got a sturdy trust fund. Some colleges ask you to list your expected major on their  (although "undecided" is usually an option), but don't require you to declare definitively until sophomore or junior year.

If you are interested in a major that requires a lot of courses, or courses that are limited to students in that major, then it is better to declare early. Some majors demand a strictly regimented order of courses, and if you fall behind, you may have to extend your college stay for a semester or more!

How to Choose a Major

  • Interested Career. Some students choose a major because it will prepare them for a specific career path or advanced study since they know that they wish to be a nurse, a day trader, a physical therapist, or a web developer. If you are unsure, that is perfectly fine. Before you declare, take a class or two in the relevant discipline, check out the syllabus for an advanced seminar, and talk to students in the department of your choice—make sure that you can and will do the coursework required for the career of your dreams.
  • Earning Power. College is a big investment and future earning potential is worth considering. While college can pay you back in many ways beyond salary, this can be a major factor for students who are paying their own way or taking out loans. Keep your quality of life in mind, too—that six figure salary may not be worth it if you're not happy at the office.
  • Passion. Some students choose a major simply because they love the major. If you love what you're studying, you're more likely to be fully engaged with your classes and college experience, and that can mean better grades and great relationships with others in your field.
  • Unsure. If you truly have no idea what you want to study, that's okay—many schools don't require students to declare a major until sophomore year. That gives you four semesters to figure things out. Make the most of any required general education courses—choose ones that interest or challenge you. Talk to professors, advisors, administrators, specialists, department heads, and other students. Find an internship off campus. Exploring your interests will help you find your best fit major—and maybe even your ideal career. You should also find out if the school offers any assessment tools that help you find a major that suits you, and speak with officials in the career services offices and the departments themselves to learn as much as you can about the major before you commit.

Changing a Major

One of the most exciting aspects of college life is that it introduces you to new subjects and fosters new passions. You might enter initially enjoying mathematics but discover a burgeoning love for political science. However, keep this mind: Every major has requisite coursework. Some require you to take introductory courses before you move onto the more advanced courses. Also, some courses are offered in the fall but not in the spring, winter but not in the summer or vice–versa. If you change your major late in the game, it may take more than the traditional four years to earn a degree.

Minors and Double Majors

If one field of study doesn't satisfy your intellectual appetite, consider a minor. A minor is similar to a major in that it's an area of academic concentration. The only difference is that a minor does not require as many classes.

Some undergrads with a love of learning choose to pursue two majors, often in totally different subjects. A double major provides you with an understanding of two academic fields. It allows you to become familiar with two sets of values, views, vocabularies and practices. It also requires you to fulfill two sets of requirements and take twice as many required courses. You won't have as many opportunities to experiment or take classes outside those two fields.

While a minor or a double major might make you more marketable, both professionally and for graduate study, both are time—and energy—intensive. Most students find that one major is more than enough. However, if you feel that you are up for the challenge, go for it!