You did it! You got into a college whether it was your first or last pick. You probably have started picking out dorm furniture and bedding. You may be shopping around for your new fancy computer. Before things get too crazy, I want to offer you 5 things to consider when picking your college major. Now I realize my blog is “Thrifty Little Mom” and this may seem off topic, but in reality I have some thrifty wisdom to pass along that goes with picking a major.
1. Be Realistic About Your Bills-
- So many 18-19 year old’s are looking so forward to the college experience that they forget that it costs something to go to school.
- If you or your parents are literally cash rolling your education (which means writing checks not using credit cards or loans) then you are off to a great start.
- If you are taking out loans, you need to look into how much people in your field actually make. If you guestimate the cost of books, tuition, room and board and meal plans for 4 years, how much debt are you looking at?
- Let’s say you land a job as soon as you graduate. Use the low end of the pay scale for your field to figure out how long it would take you to pay off your student loans.
- The fact is, when college is over, you want it to be over! Loans and bills just follow you around in your adult life taking a lot of your hard earned money with it.
2. How much education or training is needed to get a job in your field?
- A lot of people pick a major they are confident they can master.
- Let me put that in layman’s terms… Lots of young adults choose a college degree that think will be easy.
- If you hate math, you probably aren’t going to head to the accounting department. (Unless your one of those people who likes to go after stuff even if they aren’t the strongest at it.)
- If you love working with and helping people face to face, you probably won’t spend your college days in the engineering department.
- Example: If you loved psychology in high school, how much education do you need to easily get a job in that field? In most cases a PHD is needed in Psychology.
- It might be more time than you’re willing to invest or money than you’re willing to pay.
- If grad school isn’t your thing, pick a major that doesn’t require you to be in school until your almost 30.
3. What do you want out of life? How old do you want to be when you graduate?
- I know a lot of people who’s bubbles are burst the moment college is over.
- What your high school counselor painted as a life of rainbows, sun-shines, dreams and unicorns is really that you work day in and day out to pay bills and provide for yourself or your family.
- If you long for nice cars, boats, vacations and big houses, you better pick a major with a paycheck to match. It needs to also be able to pay your student loans off in a reasonable amount of time.
- If you are a pretty simple person who wants to enjoy a simple life you can pick just about any major.
- Years of Experience- One harsh reality that many graduate students find when they go after real world jobs is that they are starting at “entry level” positions even with a strong education. They find that many of their friends who got 4 year degrees are making way more money than them simply because they’ve had 4 years of professional experience while grad students are researching and writing papers. Graduate school is great. Just keep in mind that it basically chews up your 20’s and spits you out at 30.
- If I could turn back time…I picked communications. If I could hop in the “Back To the Future DeLorean”, I’d find my 18 year old self and tell her to choose computer science or web design. But I can’t, so now I have to make up for that learning curve in my 30’s.
- What I tell people who are considering getting a Bachelor of Arts is to go hang out during your breaks in the Bachelor of Science buildings and try to find your future spouse. That way they can help support your dreams. That’s what happened to me anyway. 🙂
- Also, consider why you are picking the program. Are you going to med school because your dad did or because you actually want to be a doctor?
4. Slow Down
- I was under the impression that I needed to have my life planned out on the first day I stepped foot on campus. I changed my major 5 times in the first 2 years of school.
- If you have no idea what you want to be when you grow up, it’s okay.
- Register as “Undecided”, take your basic college starter classes and start exploring all the majors that you might be interested in.
- Walk around campus and see what the students are doing during the day in those majors.
- Figure out what kinds of jobs you can get with the majors you’re researching.
- See if those jobs are the kinds of things you think you can master and live with day in and day out.
5. Always Have a Plan B.
- Some college majors are fiercely competitive.
- The nursing program at my college literally broke grown adults bringing them tears in quiet corners of the library.
- If you are entering a major that limits the number of students accepted into the program, you need to figure out what happens if you don’t get in.
- Maybe you just try again the next semester.
- Maybe you try again the next 2 semesters.
- What happens after rejection is up to you. Know your program acceptance stats and ask that department’s advisers what it really takes to get in.
- Having a plan A and plan B as far as what you want to do in life never hurt anyone.
Whether you are applying for colleges, starting college or trying to figure out what the heck you’re doing in college, I hope these 5 things to consider when picking your college major have given you some food for thought. If you have any advice or wisdom to share, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.
Kim’s is the party planning, cupcake loving, celebration catalyst behind the Thrifty Little Mom Blog. Kim was a pro event planner for over 7 years before she became a full-time blogger. Kim is the author of: Live, Save, Spend, Repeat: The Life You Want with the Money You Have. She’s been featured on Time.com, Money.com, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Day and more! Kim aims to inspire you to create parties, celebrations and gatherings that everyone loves!