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What to consider when choosing a college major

‘Panicked Student’s Guide to Choosing a College Major’ writer Laurence Shatkin on how to decide.<br />

1. Be realistic about your ability to do the work. For many majors, it’s possible to take an introductory course to test the waters. Ask an instructor in the relevant department what aspects of the major are most challenging.

2. Ability is often related to interest, but they don’t always match completely. In other words, you may find the major boring, even though you’re able to do the work. Think about what activities engage you the most, such as those that might make you come late for dinner.

3. Educate yourself about the careers that the major might lead to. Many colleges can put you in touch with graduates who are willing to tell you about their work. Decide whether you can picture yourself doing similar work several years from now.

When you consider the earnings of a possible career path, focus on the lifestyle rather than the dollar figure. An amount that dazzles you now may not appear so large once you have taken on adult responsibilities. In addition, the job may demand a high-pressure lifestyle that cancels out some of the enjoyment of the high earnings.

5. Employers now turn more than half of all interns into full-time hires. When you consider a department, find out whether it helps students with placement in internships. Also find out which employers have taken on interns repeatedly. This is an indication of the reputation of the department.

6. Some majors are linked to career-related student organizations or campus clubs. Attend some meetings, or at least find out what they do and what the membership is like. This may help you gauge your level of comfort with your future work tasks and co-workers. metro

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