How to Choose a Major in High School
Choosing your high school major is a huge decision. It will have a profound impact on the rest of your life, not only in terms of where you go to college but also what kind of career path you take later on. With this in mind, one of the most important things that any teen can do for themselves is research which majors are available to them and decide on the best fit.
Reasons to Choose a Major in High School
Choosing a college major early in life will enable you to:
- Incorporate college coursework into high school.
- Save money! Most colleges will lower their tuition if you are taking some of the courses they offer.
- Get a head start on your future major.
- Get into that school that’s hard to get into because you are doing college-level work.
- Get over the “I don’t know what I want to do with my life” phase.
- Take electives you are interested in while also taking classes that will go into your major, making it easier on yourself later for applying for colleges.
- Gain some leadership skills while still in High School by being a part or Head of the Department.
- Overcome disabilities. If you get your college courses out of the way, you can focus on what’s important like getting through high school with flying colors.
Factors to Consider When Selecting a High School Major
Choosing a major is an important decision, whether you know exactly what you want to do after graduation or you would like to explore your options and take time choosing a career. The purpose of selecting a high school major depends on:
- Where You Want To Go To College
If you are striving to get into the best college possible, you may want to pick a major that is directly related to your intended career goal. For example, suppose you are interested in attending Harvard University and dream of playing the saxophone for a symphony or jazz band. In that case, you may want to focus on classical studies. If it doesn’t matter where you go to college as long as you get an education, you may want to focus more on interests and skills than a specific career path.
- Interests and Talents
If you know exactly what you want to do after high school, choose a major based on those interests. For example, if you love doing hands-on projects and would like to take them further, you may want to consider an engineering or architecture degree. If you have a lot of creative ideas and enjoy writing, you may want to consider a film major. If you love working with people and would like a job that provides a lot of room for growth, then a business degree might be the right choice for you. If you have a unique talent or passion, it’s essential to look for an academic program that can help develop your skill or provide opportunities to share that talent with others.
- Field of Work Opportunities
If you are not sure what career path to take, choosing a major based on the types of jobs available in your field may help guide your decision. For example, if you’re interested in working as an actor or actress, a theater major is the best choice. If you want to work with kids, a teaching or child development major is your best option. If you are interested in working in the medical field, then a nursing degree should be considered.
Depending on your career choice, some majors may be more expensive than others. For example, if you are interested in becoming a doctor, it will require years of training and education. It’s essential to consider the cost of your chosen program before committing yourself to certain educational charges.
If you don’t know where you want to go to college or what type of career you want to pursue after high school, consider choosing a major that will give you some options when it comes time to look for your first job.
Myths about Choosing a Major
Many students choose a major based on what they think will give them the best job opportunities and the highest pay. However, there are many popular myths about choosing a college major that should be dispelled before making your final decision.
- Majors That Require the Least Amount of Work Will Give You the Best Job Opportunities. This is not entirely true. A major that may appear to be less work than others may require more coursework, leading to additional expenses and time spent in college.
- Your Major Is the Only Factor That Determines Your Professional Success. Career experts agree that the most critical indicator of someone’s future salary and career opportunities may be an internship or co-op experience in his or her chosen field, which can provide him or her with valuable hands-on experience.
- Your Major Has to Match Your First Job after College. It’s always a good idea to take some time to explore your options before committing yourself to a specific career path. Many people change jobs or careers several times during their lifetime, which includes changing majors if needed. Although it may be difficult, you should consider investing your time and money into an academic program that will teach you marketable skills, provide experience in the field, and prepare you for future job opportunities.
- You Should Choose a Major Based on How Much You Will Enjoy It: Although it may be essential to choose a major that interests you, choosing your Major based solely on this factor is not realistic. If you are pursuing a program that will lead to a career you love, you should consider choosing a major based on your interests and the availability of jobs in your field.
- There Are “No Wrong Answers”: Choosing a major is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in college, so there are no wrong answers when it comes to selecting an academic program. Whether you choose a major that matches your interests, is the least expensive option, or gives you the best job opportunities when you graduate is up to you. However, choosing a college major should never be based on pressure from friends and family members, myths about what majors give the best chances for future success in your chosen field or personal expectations.
- You Can Always Change Your Major. Although you may not know precisely what you want to do after high school or how many different majors are available, choosing a major now will give you an educational foundation. That can lead to future opportunities in your preferred field, even if you change your mind about working in that industry later.
Ways to Find Out About Careers and Majors
- Career and College Fair: Attending a career and college fair will give you an idea of different types of majors and the type of jobs available for those degrees. Additionally, you can speak with counselors about potential careers and choose which ones interest you more than others.
- Internships/Co-op Experience: Internships or co-op experiences are hands-on learning opportunities that will give you the chance to gain work experience in your field before graduation.
- Researching Majors Online: Online research should be done cautiously because some websites may not be accurate or up to date. You can start with general information about different majors, but it is best to seek advice from academic counselors at your college or the career center.
- Talking With Your Career Center: Discuss which types of jobs you are interested in, who you’d like to work for, and what skills can help you find a major that will lead to these types of future career opportunities.
- Talking with a Teacher, Guidance Counselor, or Parent: Having a supportive family member or counselor can help you understand the different types of majors available and which one would be best for your academic and professional interests.
List of Common High School Majors
Even if you still think you might not know what career path you want to follow after graduation, looking at the most common high school majors can help determine which academic areas interest and motivate you. Here is a list of the ten top college majors:
- Business-Related Majors: Business management, accounting, finance, international business, human resources, health services administration, and marketing are among the most popular majors.
- Education Majors: Although education is not considered a business major, it is one of the top ten most common college majors and among the most popular high school majors.
- Social Sciences and History Related Majors: Students who choose social work, political science, history, and psychology as their college majors often have the same interests as those who major in education.
- Engineering: Although not as popular as business or social science degrees, engineering is one of the top ten most common college majors.
- Natural Sciences Related Majors: Studying physical sciences, biological sciences, and earth sciences are among the most popular high school majors.
- Communications: As one of the top ten college majors reported by students, choosing a communication-based career field, including journalism or broadcasting studies, can be an excellent choice for college students who enjoy writing and public speaking.
- Visual and Performing Arts: Students choosing majors in music, drama, art history, dance, or studio arts often enjoy working with their hands and developing creative skills.
- Humanities Related Majors: Human services workers, including counselors and social workers; home economics teachers; religious education teachers; physical education teachers; instructors for special education; and English language teachers, are among the most common majors reported by college graduates.
- Liberal Arts: In addition to receiving a general liberal arts degree, students can choose from several academic programs that prepare them for careers as writers, journalists, medical secretaries, social workers, pharmacists, photographers, and even carpenters.
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