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Choosing a major is often the biggest decision a young man or woman attending college has to make. It can be a daunting experience trying to bring together academic and/or professional interests into one overriding choice of study for the next several years. What’s the best way to go about choosing a major? Better yet, does choosing a major still matter?

In an age of 17-yr. old Internet wunderkinds and business opportunities afforded to many by the ease of the Internet, some are hesitant to even advising investing in a $100,000 or more college education. After all, what’s the return? Is college still worth it?

Selecting a college (and later a major) is a huge responsibility for a prospective college student. It’s an emotional and personal decision that involves economic factors, parental controls, levels of SAT tutoring and SAT scores, geographic considerations, and levels of personal ability. Students with opportunities for scholarship opportunities also have distinct decisions to make on a college choice and college major.

Picking a major is as challenging to some as picking one’s first job. Scholarships.com suggests ways that students can take different factors into consideration in trying to come up with a marketable yet intellectually stimulation major. Here are a few with pointers included.

What type of career can you see yourself in?

Many young people can get over-idealistic in a future career. It’s important to weigh the type of career you see yourself in, with the future economic prospects of entering into that profession.

What type of work do you enjoy?

What are you good at? What type of work-related activities gets you excited? Do you like to create videos for you and your friends? Perhaps consider a major in video animation. Are you the kind of guy who likes to tinker on metal works? Then you might have an engineering bent within.

Which subjects did you enjoy studying the most in high school?

If you excelled at math and science classes in high school, you might want to consider a major in a science or number-related major. Many finance and business majors are excited about the use of numbers in practical applications. A glance at SAT or ACT scores in the different grading categories will provide a reasonable assessment.

What type of skills do you have?

This one’s important, because if you have marketable skills that can be applied in either a P/T job or internship opportunity, you’ll have a lot more knowledge and experience than your peers. And, more importantly, future employers love to see how college students spent their free time. Students who show a good work ethic often have a better chance of getting good jobs down the road.

Parents will have a say in all these options and factors as well. Which environment you are raised, what occupations your parents have, how much family income is available for college study and more are all crucial elements in choosing a college and later a college major. Most parents want their children to be earning money in their future work, so choosing the major with the best prospects for future income potential is a very important part of the college major decision.

Every year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) looks at what type of college students are being hired. According to the 2013 study, hiring increases are on the rise in these particular fields: pharmaceutical manufacturing; computer and electronics manufacturing; retail trade; finance, insurance, and real estate; management consulting; and professional services.

Additionally, NACE surveys colleges to see which types of bachelor’s degrees are in demand. Below is the list of what types of college majors are in demand by employers. The 2013 list was compiled from nearly 200 college career centers at public and private institutions across the United States during summer 2012.

  1. Finance

  2. Computer & Information Science
  3. Accounting

  4. Business Administration/Management
  5. Mechanical Engineering
  6. Management Information Systems
  7. Electrical Engineering
  8. Computer Engineering
  9. Marketing/Marketing Management
  10. Economics

Some experts suggest that young students are having to work harder at getting the type of job they really want. The recession of the last few years brought some graduates back to reality that jobs just weren’t plentiful after college. And now they are hustling, taking part-time jobs or freelance gigs to get a foot in the door in their chosen area of work interest.

One recruiter of college and graduate talent mentioned that graduates are working now realize they need to demonstrate not only skills and ability to get the job, but also ‘hunger’ and ‘passion’ in the interview room. Students who graduate with high GPAs but no internships and limited social skills will be at a disadvantage to other more outgoing students who are easy to get along with and have shows good experience at related internships.

Perhaps the last word should come from the valued US News & World Report Education site, which suggests 5 ways to pick the right college major. One expert is quoted as saying that choosing a major is “an artful balance of synthesizing interests, skills and personality strengths, while acquiring experience outside of the classroom that will lead to a more informed major choice.” Sound about right! Here are its top five tips:

1) Wait until a few years into college to choose a major: students need time to see what appeals to them, and interests can change in the first year or two of college.

2) But don’t wait too long! College is expensive and there will be a go or no-go point from whomever is paying for your college education.

3) Be curious about a prospective major: Ask counselors to help, seek out assessment tools if you have some indecision about your major.

4) Follow your passion: It’s important not to just grab the gold ring, but really pursue what you’d like to do within a major.

5) Some majors need early commitment: If you’re pursuing degrees and majors in medicine, engineering, nursing and more, you’ll have to declare your major early.

Be alert to the possibilities of college majors, how they are viewed in the professional world and seek out inputs from a range of informed sources. With these tips, you’ll be on your way to a bright future.

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