The Smart Way to Pick a Major that Most Students Skip-Talk to People Who Have Already Graduated with the Degree

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Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash – So many subjects, so many choices when picking your major.

A report released Fall 2017 by The Gallup Organization and Strada International show that when students gather information before choosing a college major they rely predominantly on their social contacts including friends and family. The report details that, “the majority (55%) of U.S. adults with at least some college but no more than a bachelor’s degree list their informal social network as providing advice about their college major. This is the most often-cited source of advice when choosing a major for the majority of U.S. adults.” Media sources play a role, so does college advising staff and even high school teachers.  However, the report goes on to warn that the most helpful source of information, a student’s current and future employers , as well as an informal network of career mentors made up of professionals who have the desired degree are rarely consulted by students and their families.  These are the best sources of concrete information about the major and they are the best contacts you will ever have – both in terms of advice and as contacts when you begin searching for full time employment.

Give some thought to brushing up on your informational interview techniques freshman year. This will help you feel confident in spending substantial time from freshman Spring into the summer (before you declare your major) meeting with people who declared that major and are now employed.  You will learn a great deal and set yourself up for scholastic and employment success. And, if you are a highschooler who plans to apply into a major for college, spend the time discussing your choices with family friends and extended contacts before you make this big decision – you will want to be aware of the long term upside and downside of any major before you lock yourself in. Of course you can change majors once you declare.  However, there is often extra time, cost and sometimes even an entire extra semester of work and expense if you decide to change too late in your college career.

To read more, this Washington Post article gives an in-depth summary of the many issues when selecting a major:

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