How to Choose a College Major
Guest blogger Geby Devtiana Maryono – who majored in education – talks about how to choose a college major that’s right for you.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) states that around half of the unemployed are high school graduates. In light of these facts, going to college is a key solution and knowing how to choose a college major is critical.
College provides more development of foundational skills (like literacy and numeracy), transferable skills (like the ability to solve problems, communicate effectively, be creative, lead and demonstrate entrepreneurial capabilities) and technical skills, all of which are useful in a future career (UNESCO, 2012).
However, it is also undeniable that many college graduates still cannot find the right job for them or begin their career. Research shows that the focus of study, or ‘major’, chosen in college significantly influences job stability and satisfaction as well as career opportunities (Porter & Umbarch, 2006). Thus, choosing your major wisely is essential.
Personal research and career research are two basic yet important tasks for you to complete. Personal research involves understanding your interests, personality and skills. Understanding your interest means knowing what you enjoy and are passionate about. Interests affect both the choice of your major and your dedication to that major (Allen & Robbins, 2008).
Understanding personality relates to character and the ways in which you behave and view the world. Recent studies found that a good personality-major match is closely related to college success (Jones, 2014). Understanding skills means knowing what you’re good at. Skills-major matching will maximise your skills development, help you grow even more and ensure your studies prepare you for a future career.
Career research is information gathering about the activities and learning processes involved in the major that you’re interested in. It is important for you to find out about this information, so you can truly enjoy and make the most of the study process.
Look into data on what majors have the highest and lowest risks of unemployment. This should be one of the key considerations before your officially declare your major. To get detailed information about the majors that you’re interested in, consider interning or job shadowing to see what a potential career in your field will be like in real life.
Having internship experience is also be advantageous in finding and securing a career in the future. It cannot be denied that there is a high number of college graduates unemployed, so you need to choose your major wisely. Knowing yourself and what kind of job you want to work in is one of the most important things you can know before taking this critical step.
Allen. J., & Robbins, S. (2008). Prediction of college major persistence based on vocational interest and first-year academic performance. Research in Higher Education, 49, 62-79.
International Labour Organization (ILO). 2013. Global Employment Trends 2013. Recovering from a second jobs dip (Geneva).
Jones, L. (2014). Choosing a college major based on your personality. Carolina: Career Key.
Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2007). 21st century skills curriculum and instruction learning environment.
Porter, S. R., & Umbarch, P. D. (2006). College major choice: An analysis of person-environment fit. Research in Higher Education, 47, 429-449.
UNESCO. (2012). Youth and skills : put education to work. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Article submitted by Geby Devtiana Maryono, who graduated with a degree in education, has a unique insight into the field. Check out her other blog on Education and Youth Unemployment in Indonesia. Photo credit: Sampoerna University.
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