Choosing a Major When Nothing Seems Like the Right Fit

Many have been there, and many will follow in your footsteps in the future. Choosing a major can feel like a lot of pressure—after all, this is your future on the line! The subject matter you choose to study over the next four to eight years at college could determine future schooling, where you live, and what your future career ends up being.

While it’s easy to spiral into panic mode when you reach the line on your college application titled “Declare Your Major,” rest assured, there’s a way to figure out what might be a good fit for you. Keep in mind that while there may be hundreds of options and programs to choose from, the major you pick isn’t a life sentence. Many adults go on to work jobs that aren’t directly related to their major, and that’s okay. At the very least, the wherewithal and perseverance you show by actually getting a degree—no matter the area of study will reveal your great work ethic.

So how do you narrow down all the options? What should you consider as you sort through all the different alternatives? We put together a list of factors to take into account as you scan your college’s various major packets, so you can make a researched and thought-out choice.

1. Passion

Are you a huge fan of basketball? Perhaps you should consider coaching or sports therapy. Is Grey’s Anatomy your favorite show? A degree in a medical field might be right up your alley. Have you been a bookworm since childhood? Writing and literature majors often are. Take a look at the things you absolutely love to do and make a list. Chances are, at least a couple of your passions can easily translate into careers.

If Legos were your world throughout grade school and you have a penchant for math and science, perhaps engineering is a field of study to consider. If you love to bake and create all things delicious, maybe you should consider a culinary degree. It’s probable that if you choose a major that coincides with a passion of yours, you’ll be more engaged in class and more likely to succeed—simply because you’ll love what you’re learning about!

2. Earnings and employment rate

While this shouldn’t be your end-all determiner in choosing a major, it’s certainly something that many students consider. Certain degrees carry higher earning potential and hiring rates, and if paying off your college debt within a few years of graduating is your goal, this might be something to consider.

Keep in mind, however, that in the end, it’s incredibly important that you enjoy what you’re doing. Many get stuck working a job they hate simply because they need to pay the bills. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it’s also not ideal, and if you can find a job that pays well and connects with one of your passions, then all the better.

3. Consider your personality

Take a look at how you perceive the world and interact with it. Are you rather logical when it comes to making decisions? Are you systematic and orderly in how you approach everyday life? Perhaps you might be more suited for a career in statistics and math or technology.

On the flip side, do you find yourself drawn to independence and freedom? Are you extroverted? Do you make decisions based on emotion and find that you’re fairly intuitive? A job in the arts, communications, or in psychology might be a great fit for you.

By looking at what comes naturally to you, you can rule out some careers where you might feel stifled or bored—simply based on your personality.

4. Work-life balance

Certain majors lead to certain careers that can affect your work-life balance. Consider what kind of schedule you’d like to keep in the future. Teaching, for instance, can involve a lot of extra time outside of class—prepping lesson plans, correcting homework, and planning field trips. On the flip side, most teachers get the entire summer off, so it might be a worthy trade-off for you.

Some jobs work well as freelance positions, and other careers will have you in a cubicle at a typical nine-to-five job. For some people, the stability of a consistent routine is comforting and helpful, and for others, it can feel boring and suffocating.

The world is your oyster

The great thing about college is that you have time to choose. If you try one major, and it’s not for you, there’s time to switch your field of study. Don’t be afraid to experiment and make mistakes.

Sit in on some classes to see if you like the subject matter, talk with professors, or interview students in a program you’re interested in. Try different things, and eventually, you will find your way.