Choosing a Major or Choosing a Career?

Choosing a Major or Choosing a Career?

A recent article in The Washington Post discussed the differences between college majors. Some lead to obvious jobs; others, such as liberal-arts degrees, leave graduates with a well-rounded education but not necessarily any career direction. An 18-year-old adjusting to adult life and life away from home isn't always prepared to make the right decision when it comes to a college major. But, can that wrong decision doom him or her, career-wise, for years to come?

Most incoming college freshman likely choose a major based on their interests. You like math? Consider accounting. You love to write? English is an obvious major. You're fascinated by the planets? Find a school with an astronomy major. Students who choose a major this way might be studying material that they enjoy, but does it lead them in the right career direction?

A broader, more useful way to choose a major might be to consider future prospects. A talented writer doesn't need to major in engineering just to land a job, but students should consider their skills in the context of their career goals and the job market. If, for example, a student plans to go to medical school, a major in one of the sciences will provide him or her with the knowledge he needs to excel at the next level. If a student is interested in business but isn't sure what area to specialize in (finance, accounting, or marketing, for example), he or she can research the job prospects for each area to get a feel for what major will best prepare him or her for landing a job upon graduation.

Today's job market is competitive, so students need to set themselves up to find jobs in industries that are growing. That's not to say that students should forget liberal-arts majors, but they should choose them wisely with a career path in mind.