Tips for Making Realistic Major Choices

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  • 0:41 Finding Your Passion
  • 1:29 Aptitude & Personality
  • 3:08 Time & Financial Resources
  • 4:25 Help from Others
  • 6:02 Can't Decide?
  • 7:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

This video will offer tips for making realistic major choices. In the lesson, you will learn questions to ask yourself that will guide you in finding major choices that are right for you.

Realistic Major Choices

Choosing your college major is a huge step for any student. It guides your educational path and often provides the opening for future careers. The importance of this decision is enough to make even the toughest of characters a bit nervous. But, experts say that putting too much pressure on yourself to make a choice early isn't a good idea. There are things you can do and questions you can ask yourself to help guide you to the right decision.

In this video, I will present those questions to you and give you some indication of how the answers may impact your final choice.

Finding Your Passion

The first question to help you narrow down your options for choosing a major is, What is my passion? A passion is that area that matches your inner strengths and desires. If you want to successfully complete your degree with the least amount of wasted time and money, leading to a satisfying career, then your best chance is to choose a college major that suits your personality and interests.

For the sake of example, let's assume that our friend, Adam, here, knows he has a passion for helping people. There are many fields of study and future careers that he could choose related to helping people. He will need to further investigate himself and answer some more questions to continue to narrow down his choices.

Finding Your Aptitude and Personality

The next most important question to ask at this early stage in the process is, What am I actually good at doing? To answer this question, you need to look into your true interests shown by more subtle behaviors such as what you read, what types of movies you enjoy, how you spend your free time, and what you notice you daydream most about when considering your own future. To learn more about yourself, there are many aptitude tests and personality tests available.

Aptitude tests are tests that give the taker an idea of which areas they can learn easily. Many schools suggest that students take some form of aptitude, career, or personality test before they decide on a major course of study. Once you have taken a test and have a better idea of your true aptitude or personality, you can ask your guidance office or career services office at your school for a master list of majors that is organized by personality types. One such list is called the Classification of Instructional Programs list. This list will show you what majors exist that match your personality the best, which may help you to further narrow your options.

In our example, Adam learned through a test that he has a very outgoing personality but also prefers working in small, consistent groups. He also learned he has an aptitude for science and math. This information helped him match up a few majors with his unique personality and aptitudes.

Consider Time and Financial Resources

How much time and how many financial resources do I have to invest in my education? is another great question to ask yourself before choosing a major. If you have a family and need to begin earning money quickly, a major that will take many years to complete may not be the best option for you. If you are young, have no family, and have access to plenty of financial funding, you may desire to choose a field of study that could require 8 or more years to complete. Only you can decide what resources you have to invest in your education pursuits, but there are majors that will suit both long and short term commitments.

Consider our friend; he knows he has a passion for helping people and has learned that he has an aptitude for math and science. But he also knows that because of his family and not being free to move to another area for graduate school, following a pre-med major with the intent of going to medical school is not right for him. He won't be a doctor, but he could major in another medical field that takes less time and financial investment and still satisfies his passion to help others and uses his math and science aptitude.

Get Help From Other People

What do other students in the major feel about it? How can my academic advisor or career services office help me with this decision?

Talking to people is a great way to learn how well a field of study will fit your personal needs and passions. If you talk to other students in the same major you are considering who are nearing the end of their studies, you can find out how you feel you would fit in with that group of students. You can find out if they enjoyed the process, if they feel they have good job options after graduation, and if they would recommend that you follow in their footsteps.

Don't forget to use the resources offered by your school, such as guidance counselors, academic advisors, and career service officers. All of these resources can assist you in identifying your personal goals and help you to narrow down your major choice.

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