It’s never too early to start thinking about majors and courses of study that interest you after graduating high school. Get started on the research to figure out which path might be right for you!
Choosing a college major is an important decision that will impact your life and career trajectory, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful one. Your decision also doesn’t need to be set in stone. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 30% of associate’s and bachelor’s degree program undergraduates change their major at least once within three years of enrollment. Another 10% change their major more than once.
While changing your major is not impossible (and definitely not the end of the world), doing so could cost you time and money in having to take or retake courses for your desired program. However, with forethought, careful planning and help from your academic advisors, you can evaluate your options after high school with confidence. Here are five helpful tips to choose and stick to a major that feels right for you.
Selecting your major begins with understanding the personal desires, pursuits, curiosities and hobbies that get you inspired, excited and active. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
Be sure to check in with your academic advisor and/or guidance counselor as they are available to help you choose a major, take advantage of special programs and offers and avoid costly missteps as you transition from high school .to college. These guides can also steer you toward the right fields of study, opportunities, on-campus communities and activities that can boost your post-secondary education success.
At Boys & Girls Clubs, Club mentors provide youth with the guidance and resources to define and pursue their goals for life after high school graduation. Digital programs like Roadmap to Careers, sponsored by Navient, help Club members investigate career options and explore post-secondary education options. Additionally, Club members can participate in real-life work experiences, internships and apprenticeships to build skills that will support their endeavors post high school.
As your advisor and mentors counsel you on which majors are compatible with your desired interests, make sure that you think critically about how each potential major will affect you and your plans for the future.
You’ll want to know what your class schedule will look like and whether or not you can or should pursue a double major. Investigate which required courses in your concentration have earned a reputation for being difficult and what you can do to be successful in those courses.
If your major does not exist at the school of your choice or in general, discover if you have the flexibility to shape your own major or combine classes from other majors to deliver the training and preparation you’ll need.
Leveraging your interests to create a new major and a new career path isn’t so farfetched when you consider that jobs like drone operators, telemedicine physicians and social media marketers didn’t exist 10 years ago. Today, thinking outside of traditional vocations can lead to unexpected and lucrative careers.
As you’re imagining which possibilities align with your passions, take note of what you are already able to do and what skills you’ll still need to develop. If you need to learn more skills, will that require additional training or certifications? If so, do you have a plan to cover any additional costs that development will entail? To help prepare Boys & Girls Club members with planning and paying for college, Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s partner, Navient, offers a one-of-a-kind digital resource to explore financial aid options and budget for expenses.
Finally, you’ll want to consider your earning potential once you complete your major. Will your post-collegiate vocation continue to interest and inspire you along your career path no matter how much money you make? Or are you most motivated by leading a life of service to a specific cause? Factor in these considerations to help pinpoint the right major for achieving your career goals.
You don’t have to declare your major to get accepted to most colleges and universities. Unless you’re pursuing more rigorous majors like health or engineering, it’s not absolutely critical to declare your major prior to or during your freshman year. Because most freshmen schedules focus on general education and prerequisite courses, the majority of schools will allow you up until the end of your sophomore year to declare a major.
Waiting to declare can be helpful if you’re missing GPA prerequisites for a specific program. With this additional time to decide, you can explore your class options more thoroughly and raise your GPA to boost your chances when applying to competitive programs. However, it’s important to keep in mind that waiting to declare can sometimes lead to you being ineligible for major- and department-specific scholarships and grants. You may also miss out on special housing and networking opportunities.
As you’re considering what to do after high school, remember that you don’t have to enter into this next phase of your life alone. Parents, mentors, teachers, counselors, advisors and even fellow students in your desired major can assist you and offer practical advice in choosing your major. There are also plenty of online resources you can access for additional support. Learn more about how Boys & Girls Clubs of America empowers young people toward great futures beyond high school.
Since 2021, Navient has empowered Club kids and teens with the career exploration tool Roadmap to Careers as well as several interactive digital resources within Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Diplomas to Degrees program to help launch and fund their college journeys. Learn more about how Navient has supported Boys & Girls Clubs of America in building great futures for young people nationwide.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America supports today’s young people in thriving academically while building essential skills for the workforce.