As a young person entering university, you probably have a lot of questions. It’s an exciting time–you’re getting ready to strike out on your own, be an adult, and begin the next phase of your education. You’re in a time of growth. You have passions, interests, and dreams for the future. You also have some big decisions to make. What do you want to study? What do you want to be? The decisions you make now are going to affect your career path for the rest of your life, most likely. So, it's important to make the right decisions when you’re choosing a field of study. We’re going to go through six quick things to keep in mind when you’re choosing what you’d like to study.
Identify your interests
What are your passions? What do you love learning about? What hobby could you spend the rest of your life doing? When you’re picking a field of study, you’re going to want to pick something you enjoy. When your job is doing something that you love, you’ll never feel like you’re working. If your lifelong passion music? Then maybe don’t study metallurgical engineering. Are you passionate about biochemistry? Then maybe don’t go into law. Find the thing you’re good at, that you love doing, and pick a major based on that.
Is your goal to enjoy your career, or to retire as early as possible? Do you want to earn a high salary right out of university, or do you want to have a lower-paying job that is creatively fulfilling? These are important questions to consider and balance when you’re picking a major. You’ll choose differently based on your priorities. If your goal is to earn money, maybe you’ll go into STEM (more on that later) if your goal is to be a creator, maybe you’ll go into art.
Consider the future
Whatever degree you graduate in will likely influence what kind or work you end up doing. If you pick a major based on your current interests, will you still enjoy it in 10 or 15 years? Do future-you a favour, and carefully consider how your interests and goals might change in the future. Do you think you will want to start a family? Then maybe choose a major that will allow you a flexible work schedule. Do you want to travel? Pick a major that encourages travel-related work. Looking at your long-term life plan, and non-work related goals is an important element when choosing a field of study.
Get career advice
Don’t be afraid to talk to a career counsellor. A counsellor can talk to you about your interests, talents, goals, and help you identify a field of study that suits you. The great thing about talking to a professional is that they’ll be able to recommend you potential majors that you might not have considered for yourself. Maybe you are good at maths, but your passion is art. Your career counsellor might recommend you study Architecture–something you may have never thought of. Talking to a counsellor can give you a holistic approach to choosing a major that is right for you.
Some words about STEM
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics:
STEM represents the highest paying career paths that society has to offer. Many students who study STEM fields exit college ready to enter high-paying professional jobs. These gigs have high earning potential. If you are good at mathematics, research, data analytics, and so on, consider a STEM major.
The last word: try out multiple majors
The fact of the matter is that most people switch majors once or twice when going through college. As a young person, your interests are still developing. The best way to learn about certain interests or passions is simply to give them a try. In most university systems, the first two years (Freshman and Sophomore) are all about taking general education classes and electives. Use this time to take a diverse set of electives. Try art, history, astronomy, and mathematics. Try electives that are out of your wheelhouse and out of your comfort zone. We can’t grow and learn if we don’t push ourselves. Don’t be afraid to try unusual electives, and definitely don’t be afraid to switch majors. You don’t want to be stuck in a career you don’t enjoy–you want to live a life of passiona and excitement.