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Choosing a College Major 101

a graduate trying to choose a major

Woohoo … you’re going to college! Graduating from high school and getting ready to head off to college can be an exciting time. But there may be a few things that have you concerned—like choosing a college major. The great news is that you don’t have to worry. There are some things that you can do that will help you as you make this important decision. Welcome to Choosing a College Major 101.

Getting Started

View choosing a major as an opportunity. God has blessed you with talents to use for His glory. So be willing to consider anything that the Lord might direct you toward—and pray about it. Spend much time in prayer and reading your Bible. If your heart is in sync with God’s, then you will make a decision that honors Him. Remember, “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:4-5).

Inventory Time

Now it’s time to ask yourself a few questions. Use a journal or a notebook to write your answers—and make sure to leave some space for later.

  • What hobbies/activities do I enjoy?
  • What do I enjoy learning about in school?
  • What would my ideal job/career look like?
  • What activities/subjects do I dislike?
  • What desires has the Lord given me?

These questions aren’t the only ones you can ask; add any other questions to your list that others have asked you or that you think of yourself. And just a word of caution: don’t keep something off your list just because you think it sounds “dumb.” If you’re interested in painting but have never picked up a paint brush, you should still write “painting” on your list.

Do Some Research

Look at your list of interests and see what majors they're related to. You may need to do some research to determine this, so use the resources at the end of the paragraph—and at the end of the page. Once you’ve pinpointed your potential majors you can look at related occupations. Also, see if you can talk to people in those fields. They can provide you with first-hand knowledge that may help you make a decision. Note things that you like/dislike and write them down. Websites like (The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook) or even Google (search for “job opportunities with [insert major] degree”) may provide helpful information while you’re gathering data.

Bring in the Reinforcements

Take a look at any patterns you see on your list—for example, are some of your choices math-related? It’s time for you to ask your parents and/or a trusted mentor a few questions, such as “Do you think I would do well in a job that relies heavily on math?” Below are a few more questions to help you get started. And remember, if you have an interest in something but your parents or mentor doesn’t mention it, that doesn’t mean you should write it off. You’re still gathering data.

  • What strengths and weaknesses do you see in me?
  • What job do you see me pursuing?
  • In the time that you’ve known me, what activities can you tell that I enjoy?

You’ll receive a lot of advice and may even be pressured to pursue a certain degree even though it’s not something you’re interested in. Always make sure that your decision pleases the Lord because He counts much more than anyone else. Never choose a major just to please another person. If you please the Lord, then you’ll please all the right people.

Reality Check

Add the helpful things to your list that your parents or mentor pointed out. Then pray for wisdom and clarity because the next step may be hard. Once you’ve sought the Lord’s counsel, you’ll need to take another look at yourself. You may have some interests on your list that are intriguing to you but are not the best choice for you. Cross them off or give them a lower priority for now. But don’t forget about those interests; they may be something you can pursue as electives in college or as hobbies later in life.

Take a Break

Give yourself a week or two off from this decision-making process. Continue to pray about it, but don’t consult your list unless you have an urgent addition to make. After this time off, you should have a clearer mind that may catch any patterns or trends that you missed before. And you may realize that certain items on your list, while good options, aren’t things that you want to pursue. So, purge any items from your list that need to go, and star any items that you still feel are definitely important.

The End

Good job for making it thus far! Now go back to your list and organize it to see what top majors or fields that you have left. Does anything seem like a good fit for you? Refer back to your research from earlier. What is the best choice that you can make?

Still Have Questions?

It’s okay if you’ve gone through this process and still haven’t decided on a major. Don’t be discouraged. You may declare one major and then switch—many students switch their majors after getting to college. Or you could see whether your potential college will allow you to have an undeclared major for a year. Just make sure that the college you’re interested in offers your major and that the program is solid.

The following helpful resources were suggested by Dr. Steve Buckley, Career Services, Bob Jones University.

  • ACT/SAT—These tests measure your academic ability in comparison to other college-bound students. They also provide an interest inventory and suggested fields of study.
  • Strong Interest Inventory—This assessment will recommend occupations to you by comparing your interests to those who are experienced in a particular occupation. College career offices usually make this available to enrolled students.
  • O*NET—This is the Occupations Information Network. It gives you current information about specific jobs and a skills inventory that matches skills with specific jobs. You may find it helpful to compare O*NET recommendations with your interest inventory.

 Published April 2, 2012.

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