When do I need to pick a major by and how important is choosing the right major for my career?

College Prep

Our counselors answered:

When do I need to pick a major by and how important is choosing the right major for my career?

Yolanda Spiva
Executive Director Project GRAD Atlanta, Inc.

Passion, Not Profit, Should Drive Your Choice of College Major

Your college major doesn’t necessarily determine how you’ll spend the rest of your life. While there is often pressure from parents and society for you to choose a college major based on prestige and earning potential, it is actually more important that you select a major that correlates with your interests and your passions. Solid academic preparation, along with a becoming personality, can actually get you a job anywhere. I know a political science major who went on to become a successful record company executive—not your typical path, but skills, passion, and opportunity trump the specific major, every time!

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon Apps

Picking a Major

Students and their parents are very concerned about selecting a major and knowing the impact it will have on a career, and rightly so; college education is a very expensive proposition. However, there is no simply answer to the question about a major. History majors go on to medical school; English majors become attorneys; and education majors become accountants. The best advice is to do your best in whatever major you choose and do something that you really love rather than just choosing a major because it will look good on a resume. Students should make sure that if their college has course options that are career-related (not necessarily the case in liberal arts schools) that they try those courses. Another very important consideration are internships. I believe they are every bit as important in hiring and career development than the area in which a student majors or minors. As for when to pick a major, that is entirely dependent on the college. Students should read up on policies and deadlines regularly and talk to faculty in the areas that are interesting. In larger universities, there may be specific colleges that have career impact. Georgetown comes to mind because it has college of arts and sciences, a college for international relations, and a college for business. Remember also that students very often change majors and career direction. How do they really know at age 18 what they will want to do at age 28?

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

very important to receive career counseling

I suggest you to visit the university's career center or placement services during your college visits each time. if you are not planning to go to graduate school, then you should consider your career path very serioulsy before picking a major in college. it will cost you more time and money to change majors.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

When do I need to pick a major by and how important is choosing the right major for my career?

Usually by the 3rd year or you'll be extending your date of graduation. If you're lucky enough to be 90-100% focused, it'll make all the difference in the world. I majored in French, and when I got out of college, I turned down a low-paying job in a language institute. I got into sales, and since 1977 I've been in financial services. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an archaeologist, but when I found out you couldn't keep what you found (unless you were Moshe Dyan) I had to change my focus.

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar Bound

When do I need to pick a major by and how important is choosing the right major for my career?

Most colleges require you choose a major by the second semester of your sophomore year. The "right" major is subjective and is only relevant if it will help you to reach your career goal....for example: do not choose engineering if you want to be a social worker