How to Choose A College Major

Wondering how to choose a college major?  Choosing your major in college is one of the most significant decisions you’ll make during your academic journey. The choice shapes your career path, influences your future job opportunities, and even impact your personal life, the types of other people you will meet along the way, and your overall life fulfillment. Scary enough, right?  Well, here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate this crucial decision:

1. Understand Your Natural Interests and Strengths

Follow the path of what you do well.  Therein lies your natural talent.  So, begin by reflecting on what you enjoy doing and where your true strengths lie. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What subjects in school do you excel in?
  • What hobbies or activities do you find most enjoyable?
  • What kind of books do you gravitate to in your spare time?
  • What do you find interesting in the world?
  • What are your core values and how do these align with any potential career you might be thinking about?

2. Explore Potential Careers

Once you have a sense of your interests and strengths, research potential careers. Think about who you know who is older.  What do other people’s parents do for a living?  How about an aunt or uncle?  What do they do?  Even your own parents?  Look into various industries and job roles to see what sparks your curiosity. Consider:

  • Required skills and qualifications
  • Average salary
  • Work-life balance
  • Intellectual interest and challenge

3. Consider the Long-Term Outlook

While it’s essential to choose something you enjoy, also consider the long-term viability of the field. Some questions to ponder include:

  • Is the industry growing, stable, or declining?
  • What are the future trends and technological advancements that might impact this field?
  • Are there opportunities for advancement and specialization?

Majors in healthcare, technology, and environmental sciences, for example, tend to have strong growth prospects due to ongoing societal and technological developments.

4. Evaluate Academic Strengths and Challenges

Certain majors are more demanding than others. Assess your academic abilities and readiness to handle the coursework. If you struggled with math and science in high school, a major heavy in these areas might pose significant challenges. On the other hand, if you have a natural affinity for writing, a major in English or Journalism could be a better fit. Know too that any college degree, even one from Harvard, is just a jumping off point to the rest of your life — your career too can grow and change.

5. Seek Advice and Insights

Talk to professionals in your fields of interest.  Most people are happy to offer a young person some advice.  Talk to your academic advisors, and professors. Networking can also provide a realistic perspective on what working in a particular field is like. Join clubs and organizations related to your prospective major to gain hands-on experience and meet like-minded peers.

6. Test the Waters with Introductory Courses

Take introductory courses in a few different subjects during your freshman year in college. This can give you a taste of various fields without committing right away, though it is true that the more competitive colleges, like the Ivy League schools preferred students who at least have an initial idea of what they want to study and don’t come in “undecided.”

It’s better to pick something and then change your major along the way, that to fill out your college applications with no idea at all.

7. Understand the Requirements and Prerequisites

Different majors also have different course requirements and prerequisites. Make sure you understand these before committing. Some fields may require internships, lab work, or capstone projects. Knowing these requirements can help you gauge whether you’re prepared to meet them.

8. Consider Dual Majors or Minors

If you have multiple interests, consider a double major or a minor. This approach allows you to explore more than one field and can make you more versatile and interesting. However, be mindful of the additional workload and time commitment required.

9. Stay Open to Change

It’s perfectly normal to change your major if you discover new interests or realize your initial choice isn’t the right fit. Many students switch majors during their college years. Flexibility and openness to change are crucial as you grow and learn more about yourself and your aspirations.

10. Think About Financial Implications

Finally, consider the financial aspects of your major choice. Some fields may require further education, such as a master’s degree, Ph.D.,  or certain professional certification. Also, think about the potential return on investment in terms of job prospects and salary.


Choosing a college major is a significant decision, but it doesn’t have to be a daunting one. By assessing your interests and strengths, researching potential careers, seeking advice, and staying flexible, you can make a well-informed choice that sets you on a fulfilling path. Remember, this is just one step in your lifelong journey of learning and growth. Your major doesn’t define your entire future, but it can provide a strong foundation for building the career and life you envision!

Want more bespoke advice about how to pick a college major, as well as help with your upcoming essays and applications?  I’m a former Harvard interviewer and Harvard grad and have been running my college admissions firm IVY COLLEGE ESSAY for the last 10+ years.

Contact me today for a free consultation and let me help you GET INTO THE SCHOOL OF YOUR DREAMS!

Check out these other college admissions posts as well, including:

  1. What Each Ivy League College Is Known For
  2. Best Engineering Colleges In The US
  3.  How to Get Into Harvard
  4. Best Pre-Med Programs in the US