Seniors in high school often have to make an important decision, which college major to choose. There are many majors to choose out of and students have to start choosing their major before even stepping foot on college campus. It is however, often a difficult decision because students have many interests and not enough expertise to make a decision.
Many college students, in fact, change their majors during their college years; sometimes, students have to stay in college for 5 or 6 years because of the changes. Nowadays, many college including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University enter all of their students into a General Program during the first two years. However, some programs such as Engineering at North Carolina State University essentially force their students to start engineering when they take their first step on campus. So, it is still very important for a high school senior to evaluate his or her potential majors before applying to colleges and universities.
The most important factor in choosing a major is interest. It is a horrible idea to spend the next four years of your life studying something you despise then having to work 40 or more hours a week in a field that you find repulsive. However, most people generally do not prefer to study a field where there are extremely low salaries and high unemployment rate. Having a backup major is generally a good idea.
According to Scholarships.com, the most profitable college majors are:
1. Chemical Engineering ($55,900 average starting salary)
2. Computer Engineering ($54,877 average starting salary)
3. Electrical/Electronics/Communications engineering, ($52,899 average starting salary)
4. Mechanical Engineering ($50,672 average starting salary)
5. Computer Science ($50,046 average starting salary)
6. Accounting ($45,723 average starting salary)
7. Economics/Finance/Banking ($45,191 average starting salary)
8. Civil Engineering ($44,999 average starting salary)
9. Business Administration/Management ($39,850 average starting salary)
10. Marketing/Marketing Management/Marketing Research ($36,260 average starting salary)
It appears that students that enjoy engineering have a lot of flexibility in choosing their major without much detriment. If they realize that you do not enjoy working with hardware, they can always work with software with a Computer Science major, or in analytics with a Mathematics or Statistics major. Students who enjoy working with finances also have flexibility choosing between Accounting, Economics, Finance, Banking, Business Administration, and Marketing. It may be difficult for a student to decide whether he wants to study Accounting or Economics while in high school. However, it may be a strategic decision to start leaning toward the finance field.
For most of the degrees above, a Bachelor’s degree is sufficient to get a job. A master’s degree such as the MBA is optional and can be obtained at a later stage. However, in other fields such as English, a Masters of PhD degree may be necessary to obtain the best employment opportunities. That should be taken into account. People who do not want to stay in school for a long period of time should avoid these majors and take advantage of the alternatives. Also, some colleges’ engineering programs can be essentially 5-year programs. Student shouldn’t assume that all Bachelor’s degrees can be completed in 4 years.
There is also an opportunity in many colleges to double major. It may be give the student more job flexibility. However, if the majors do not well overlap, it will also be more time consuming. Minors can also be pursued and only consist of several extra classes. In my opinion, minors should only be pursued out of pure interest since most of the time, they are not listed on a diploma and do not give the student enough expertise to be employed in a field.
If a high school senior cannot think of a major, it is not the end of the world. However, it is highly advantageous to start researching career fields early on. Plus Plus Tutoring offers college planning services to help students choose their major. Anton Lebedev is the director of Plus Plus Tutoring, a tutoring agency serving many areas in the United States. We offer professional K-12 in-home subject tutoring, test preparation, and college planning services. Our website is http://www.plusplustutoring.com.
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