Choosing a major, adding another or considering graduate school? How to weigh options in college

Choosing a major, adding another or considering graduate school? How to weigh options in college

To many, college is the ultimate decision-making time.

At times, students need to be reminded of the number of choices they have that revolve around majors, as well as beyond them. A quick response is usually expected when someone asks a student about what road they’re taking in terms of their studies and career plans, but it isn’t always this simple when it comes to the time it truly takes to establish a passion.

In young undergraduates, feelings of confusion and uncertainty are far from uncommon.  

When entering the path of higher education, especially as a freshman, it is expected that one will eventually make big decisions after getting a feel for several courses. 

It starts with being aware of your options. Doing the research and gathering thoughts from older students will help to lay out a blueprint for what works best for an individual’s educational path.

The more hands-on experience a student gets and the more research one does about something they’re interested in, the more equipped a student is to make a decision. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, about 80% of college students change their major at least once across bachelor and associate programs overall. Is this truly eye opening when keeping in mind that young adults are at a stage in their life where they are trying to set themselves up for the long-term future?

“In some cases, someone will switch their major to something completely different after realizing that the field of study they’ve been diving into for a year or two, just isn’t for them,” Maiya James, junior health science major, said. “My case is a bit of a less extreme switch, as I just went from exercise science to the more in-depth health science major.” 

Switching your major seems common when thinking about how some people establish majors before even getting a taste of college and the real world. Switching can also be a result of realizing a true passion or adjusting for a better financial future.

If one is up for the challenge, grabbing a double major is also a path that students could take to rise above the usual major and minor combinations, which makes a student instantly stand out with their special degree.

Junior Belinda Hedden, weighed in on the interesting choice of being a double major and the importance of finding an ideal match.

“When forming my double major concentration, putting secondary education and history together was something I saw that would directly connect with one another in the long run,” Hedden said. “This is important to keep in mind if a student is considering this road, so when all the work comes, it all feels connected, meaningful and not impeding each other.” 

Whether a major is changed in the middle of a college journey or a student wants to add on another, other factors need to be considered. It’s important to understand the financial implications as well as how it is setting a student up to graduate at an appropriate date. 

As much as work experience and internships are key indicators to companies that a college graduate may be ready for the workforce, earning  a master’s degree should also weigh heavily in this discussion. Attending graduate school is something that is being more and more valued; it’s a path more students are looking into when thinking about how it can help them excel in a competitive workforce.

According to the Harvard Business Review, some estimates suggest that 27% of employers now require master’s degrees for roles in which historically undergraduate degrees sufficed. A person’s level of degree has a huge impact on their salary potential too, and we hear Megan Gebhart, a junior psychology major, weigh in on this furthermore.

“I see myself definitely going to graduate school and I encourage everyone to at least consider it, especially with what I know now about the advantages,” Gebhart said. “Knowing some teachers in my township, it was interesting to see that one of the teachers I know that has only been teaching for two years gets paid more than the other two I know that have been there for five years, simply because of her master’s degree.”

So for undergraduates facing these choices, take your time and think. College isn’t the way for everyone in this world, but if you have decided to come down this path of higher education, explore the many options and paths to see what you can excel in the most rather than just going through the motions. 

 Learning options and researching them may be the difference-maker in the long run.