Top 10 Ways To Select A College Major

1 – Select Your Major Based On…Passion

What are you passionate about?  All too often, college students fail to select their major based on what they’re passionate about.

What do YOU like to do?  A lot of times, students get caught up in who their parents or friends want them be (i.e. doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc.), but they fail to consider whether or not these positions would be a good fit for them.  If you love dolphins and science, maybe you want to attend one of the marine biology colleges.

2 – Select Your Major Based On…Location

Location is a great way to start your college search.  If you are interested in a specialty major that is only offered at a specific school way across the country and you have no interest in moving that far away, then you may want to reconsider your major.  If you have your heart set on going to school in Iowa, then take the time to research the majors offered at various colleges and universities in Iowa.

3 – Select Your Major Based On…Price Tag

Can you afford the major that you’re interested in?  If you want to pursue a degree that is only offered at a few private colleges, then expect the tuition and additional fees to be high.  However, if you pursue a degree offered at an in-state college or university or junior college, you should expect the tuition and fees to be less.  When considering your financial situation, you may have to make some modifications based on how much money you can afford to spend on your education.

4 – Select Your Major Based On…Financial Aid

There will likely be differences between what scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available at one college vs. another.  If financial assistance is the determining factor of whether or not you’ll be able to attend college, you may want to consider the college or university that offers you the most financial aid and select a career field that are in need of people to fill open positions…like nursing.

5 – Select Your Major Based On…Work Ethic

How hard are you willing to work in college?  The reality is that obtaining degrees in certain fields are more difficult and time consuming than others.  This can be especially true if you select a major that does not compliment your natural abilities.  If you don’t plan on spending most of your time in the library, then a major in pre-med might not be a good fit for you.  If you don’t have your heart set on becoming a doctor (or some other career that is equally as difficult), then it might be a good idea to select a major with a moderate work load, so that you have enough time to work and pursue other interests outside of school.

6 – Select Your Major Based On…Earning Potential

In today’s economy, you can’t ignore important factors like salary potential and job opportunity…BUT, you must remember to balance this with your passion and career goals.  Maybe you’re really interested in becoming a painter, but you’re afraid that you might not be able to find employment after college.  As an alternate, maybe major in education and become an art teacher and do some freelance painting on the side.  This is one way that you can merge your passion and talents with your career goals.

7 – Select Your Major Based On…Talent vs. Likes

Sometimes we can be really talented in a particular area, but we may not like that area very much.  For example, you might hate math, but it just comes easy to you.  Take a moment to examine your high school courses.  Which courses did you consistently perform well in throughout your high school career?  Did you take any AP (advanced placement) courses?  If you select a major that compliments your natural strengths, then you’re more likely to do well in that particular field.  If you don’t select a major that supports your natural strengths, then the course work in college will likely be way more difficult than you anticipated.

8 – Select Your Major Based On…Shadow Days

There’s no better way to get a feel for a particular field or industry than by talking with people who are currently working in that field.  These individuals will likely be able to answer your questions better than your guidance counselor ever will.  The best way to get this experience is by shadowing someone at work.  This way, you’ll get first-hand experience on what it’s like – work load, job opportunities after graduation, college curriculum, etc.

9 – Select Your Major Based On…Career Options

“Not all majors are created equal.”  Yes, you will receive a degree after graduation, but there are some degrees that will give you a better shot at obtaining employment after college.  So, check out job placement statistics of others who have pursued this degree in the past.  Also, do a quick job search on or to get an initial gauge on how many positions are available in the field.

10 – Select Your Major Based On…Scholarship Programs

Some schools will offer specific scholarships to students who major in a particular area (i.e. engineering or accounting).  If during your research, you discover some financial aid incentives to majoring in one area vs. another…you might opt to go with the major that will help you pay for college.

Still having trouble? Take our College Major Quiz!


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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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