Choosing a major is an important yet difficult decision for many high school seniors and first-year college students. In fact, a Penn State study showed that up to 80 percent of entering college students say they are unsure about what to major in, and more than 50 percent change majors at least once before graduation. Check below for more statistics, sites that allow you to research different majors, as well as other tips and ideas on how to choose your field of study.
Statistics and Rankings
In addition to the above study, the Cooperative Institutional Research Program of the Higher Education Research Institute annually surveys more than 400,000 freshmen from 700 colleges and universities. In its findings from the 2007 Administration of Your First College Year: National Aggregates, 33.8 percent of respondents decided to pursue a different major at the end of their first year. What's more, 21.6 percent remained undecided on their major, 48.6 percent said there was "some chance" or a "very good chance" they would change their major field, while 33.4 already did this in their first year.
Trying to figure out which colleges you want to apply to? Read up on which schools offer the best first-year educational programs from the U.S. News & World Report. The list reflects the top schools that have a built-in network for students who wish to feel connected with others through smaller-sized programs and seminars in the curriculum.
If you're interested in how much money you can make with a specific undergraduate degree, take a look at this chart from PayScale.com. Survey results show the salaries of current full-time employees with bachelor degrees. Engineers and scientists are at the top of the ranked list, with the degrees elementary education and social work at the bottom.
Researching Majors: Which school has the one you want?
If you know what you would like to study or are interested in but are still unsure of which college you want to attend, these sites with search engines allow you to search schools that offer whatever you are interested in by area of concentration:
CollegeView.com: Choose by field of study, with advanced options by state, tuition, school type and minority representation
Princeton Review: Search by major or category. Once you see a major program you like, click on it to see more information on high school preparation, schools that offer the program, sample undergraduate curriculum, fun facts and graduate programs and careers.
College Board: Browse by category, pick the major(s) you're interested in, and click "What's this Major?" You can then read all about the major including typical courses, as well as a college checklist that includes questions to think about with this major in mind when choosing a school or department.
Researching Majors: What is it?
Other Web sites are more geared towards explaining what a specific major is all about:
MyCollegeOptions.com: Browse majors or careers to see lists of commonly required courses and ideas on what you can do with that degree.
MyMajors.com: Another useful site that provides a ton of information on specializations within a broad major, the kinds of students that are working towards a degree in the major, necessary courses, various potential career choices and lists of university departments to consider.
CollegeMajors101.com: Not only offers a list of corresponding student associations for specific majors, but also publications, employers, news, student competitions, accredited schools and videos.
More tips and career information
Whether for fun or seriousness, answer the 10 questions on About.com's College Major Assessment Quiz to see the right major for you. You may be surprised!
Check out this list of federal jobs by college major. Of course the list is made from just examples, but it's interesting to see where you match up.
The Career Center for the University of North Carolina Wilmington offers a helpful section entitled, "What can I do with a major in...?" Click on any major to read about possible related jobs, employers, major skills, job and internship search links, professional associations and more.
If you know what career you want but unsure of what major goes with it, the annual Occupational Handbook by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is perfect research. You search different types of jobs to see the necessary training, earnings, expected job prospects and what workers do on the job.
eHow's "How to Choose Classes with an Undeclared Major" has some very interesting information for undeclared students trying to figure out which classes to take.