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Christian Life

5 Tips on How to Pick Your College Major or Minor

Every week, I go through the “Girl Talk” section of Project Inspired and look for those seeking advice and counsel. I want to help answer some questions you may have about living out your Christian life and walk of faith! We want PI to be a safe place where you can ask questions.

This week, a PI Girl asked about how to decide on a minor for her college studies. The question of how to choose a major or minor is a common one among students, and it’s an important concern for those who want to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Click here to read more about this Girl Talk post or to join our chat.

This PI Girl had a very specific question pertaining to her own situation. She wants to major in English—so she is already seeking out a degree that will focus on her prioritized interests. But since she wishes to work with children or animals, she wants to choose a minor in something that will also align with her passions and goals.

Here are some tips that will help you pick a major and/or minor to study in college.

5 Tips for Choosing a College Major or Minor Degree

1. Declare a major from your passions. It may seem like common sense or a no-brainer to declare a major of interest to you, but if you think about it, you’ll want to study what intrigues you or what you can imagine pursuing as a career. You don’t want to waste your time changing majors and/or doing something you don’t like. Now, if you’re completely unsure of your future career choice, at least pick something that gets you excited about the future! Can’t think of anything? What are your favorite hobbies? Think of your dream job…THAT is what you should pursue. Remember, you’re going to be spending a lot of time focusing on this particular area of study, so choose wisely.

In a study from U.S. News & World Report, an academic advisor said:

“The tough idea for students today to grasp is that they can choose to study something that they are passionate about, an academic area that they love, without knowing what vocational path that might lead to… Many students get stuck on the idea that they have to have a clear vocational goal in order to choose a major.” —Carmen Varejcka-McGee, advisor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

[Source: usnews.com]


2. Pick your #1 choice in advance.
You may have many academic and career interests, but it’s important to narrow down your career and future to one topic of study. The more focused you are, the more likely it is you’ll be successful in this field of work. If you get a jump-start on what it is you want to do with your life, you’ll find yourself getting through school faster than those who wait and change their emphasis multiple times. I’m speaking generally here—not everyone who is accomplished has a college degree and knows what they want early in life. But for the most part, the more time you save on decisions, the clearer a vision you’ll have of where to start.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” Harriet Tubman


3. Pick a major or emphasis in your areas of strength.
Do you like leading? Are you good with children or teaching? Do you like coaching? Do you love to write? Are you compassionate and hospitable? Do you naturally care for people? Are you interested in helping advance science? In what subjects are you really gifted? Think about the areas of athletics, academics or even in Sunday school where you really feel confident and strong. From there, find a career path that would be a good fit for you and your life. This is also a great way to eliminate what you don’t want to study or what particular subjects make you feel vulnerable.

Over the years, I’ve learned that a confident person doesn’t concentrate or focus on their weaknesses—they maximize their strengths.” —Joyce Meyer


4. Pray and ask God to guide you. Obviously we can discuss majors and minors with parents, friends, mentors, school counselors and even youth pastors, but ultimately as believers, we need to remember who to gain insight from: God. We need to seek God first in all things, and what does the Bible say? He will ADD EVERYTHING else after that. We will have all we need when we seek God’s Kingdom, church and house FIRST (Matthew 6:33). That means our heart’s will, desires and dreams are laid at Jesus’ feet until we hear what the Father is asking for us to do in our lives. Chances are, if you want to pursue a specific dream or goal, God put that passion and fire in you to do that for a reason. God loves you and WANTS you to succeed! Pray and He will guide you.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)


5. Read the Word of God—it will light your path. Psalm 119:105 says that God’s Word (the Holy Bible) is a LAMP UNTO OUR FEET AND A LIGHT UNTO OUR PATH. What does that mean? It means when we read it daily, we will know which way to go. God’s Word is His voice, His way, His will and His instruction for our lives. It is God’s letter to us! Sounds too good to be true? Then I ask you and challenge you to pray to God, ask Him genuinely (from your heart) to speak to you from the BIBLE (Basic. Instructions. Before. Leaving. Earth) and see what happens. God will tell you which way to turn. Remember, everything is perfect in HIS timing, not ours, so we need to learn to be patient, listen and then go when He tells us.

PI Girls, remember to seek God, dream big, work hard and know that you are special and designed for a purpose! Whatever you decide to study or to pursue as a career or lifelong ministry, God is with you and delights in every detail of your life (Psalm 37:23). When you are in doubt or in a season of the unknown, remember God knows your future and has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Other articles of interest:
10 Tips for Transitioning from High School to College
Should I Attend a Christian High School or College?
Going Away to College? 5 Ways to Keep in Touch With Your Faith

Remember, at PI, we are praying for you girls. Do you have a major or career of interest? What are your passions? Have you decided to declare your major and minor yet? Comment below!

Image: Thinkstock / Nensuria

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13 Comments

  1. Trinity

    Posted by Trinity on July 14, 2015 at 23:30

    Honestly, it’s probably going to take time and exploration. I started college as a psych major, moved to interdisciplinary studies, and now I feel confident in social work. Sometimes you may have to try a couple of things before you find the one that just clicks.

  2. ktuck22

    Posted by ktuck22 on June 3, 2014 at 10:19

    For years, I haven’t had a clue about what I wanted to pursue. I think I might have an idea now, but I still don’t know if it’s practical. I am thinking about sports broadcasting because, hello, sports! But I really don’t feel comfortable with public speaking. I know there are classes specifically to help with that, but I still don’t know. I don’t even know what college I want to go to, although I have an idea. So… ugh. After summer break, I’m going to be a junior, and I definitely know that I’m going to a liberal arts school, so I guess I still have time. But I’m going to be bombarded with college admission essays, scholarship contests, and the insane pressure to make a choice. I’m not looking forward to it at all. I wish I could just… not worry about it.

  3. paperroses97

    Posted by paperroses97 on June 2, 2014 at 16:55

    I totally needed these tips right now!

  4. May All Your Bacon Burn

    Posted by May All Your Bacon Burn on June 1, 2014 at 18:53

    If you happen to start early enough (such as, middle of high school) I also recommend taking any opportunities you can to gain experiences in what you’re considering before you get to college. Especially for medical professions this can be difficult, but it really helps to have experience before making your final decision. I decided in junior high I wanted to be a forensics specialist. It was set in stone for me, and when the nearby trade school announced a biotechnology and forensic science course available to high school students I was right on it.

    Guess what? After two years of mixing chemicals and solving fake crimes I learned that forensics wasn’t my forte. In fact, it was worse than that: the thought of some of the things I learned, especially in criminology, shook me to the core. I have a strong imagination, so studying death and the many causes of death did nothing more but spur me into a dark spiral that I still haven’t gotten out of entirely. The biotechnology wasn’t much better for me. So, when it was time to get the ball rolling in college, I chose an alternate route: Chinese (later turned East Asian Studies) and English. Yes, this does go against #3 in all means possible, since my school only had Spanish and in general avoided the topic of East Asia altogether. I find it all the more interesting, though, and above all I’m actually enjoying what I’m learning. Am I the best? No, far from it. But I’m learning to do what I love, which is helping and communicating with others. Whether it will be in a schooling or a business situation, I’m not sure yet, but the first part’s down at least. Moreover, it took me the bulk of those two years to learn how much I disliked the field. If that were in a college scenario, I would be almost $20k in debt and unable to change my major. Since I went through my high school, my trade tuition was maybe $150 total, with a trade degree to fall back on as needed, the ability to choose something else for college, and especially my sanity.

    Meanwhile, another word of advice: a lot of people are going to tell you what you should do/should have done. While it’s okay to keep their recommendations in mind, do what you want to do. Just about every time I say “I studied biotechnology in high school” the other person says (paraphrased) “you left the medical field for language? You must be stupid”. I’ve heard this probably 30 times since my first year of college began. I just give them a smile and say “Really? I think I made the right choice”. I’m not going into detail here, but overall Liberal Arts has a bad rap nowadays. So more than likely, just the slight utterance of it will lead to a rage of unruly comments like “you’ve made the worst mistake in your life”, “hope you have fun flipping burgers”, “are your parents prepared to live with you until your 35?”, or my favorite “I hope you plan on marrying a millionaire”. Not to say only LA majors get this sort of attention–in biotechnology I received a lot of insults as well. And honestly? Just turn the other cheek and move on. One, they don’t know your circumstances, two, they’re typically running on generalities rather than actual facts, and three, most importantly, it’ll be at least four years until you’ll be looking for a job in your field. No matter what statistics may say, and no matter what the general norm is now, it’s probably not going to be the same in four, or six, or eight years. Follow your passions–God gave you them for a reason 🙂

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by pinkpoet1412 on June 2, 2014 at 06:28

      Yes! What you said about liberal arts is sooooo true!! I want to major in history and all anyone can do is try to talk me out of it! It’s Sooo annoying. But at the end of the day, only YOU can control what you study and if you try to study something

      • May All Your Bacon Burn

        Posted by May All Your Bacon Burn on June 2, 2014 at 20:36

        Indeed 🙂 And the funny thing is is that people immediately assume that if it’s Liberal Arts there are no jobs, because that’s what your typical user-run article website will tell you, and that’s their only source. Often or not, people throw more insults out at me when I point out that international business connections are growing at a rapid pace with the need for more fluent speakers for liaison, and that translators are often paid decently well. At least from my experience, that’s an indicator that they don’t have any facts to back them up.

      • Project Inspired

        Posted by pinkpoet1412 on June 2, 2014 at 06:28

        You need to love it

  5. Holly_Knot

    Posted by Holly_Knot on May 21, 2014 at 13:40

    I just finished my first year at my local community college and even now I am still trying to decide what major is going to be the best for me, because obviously there are always outside factors that also have an effect on my decision. This really spoke to me. I just need to really meditate on it and let God lead me where he wants me. I want to work with animals but also work in Disney, so Animal Kingdom is the goal, I just have to listen to the Lord and see if that’s where he leads me/

  6. Project Inspired

    Posted by SilverOwl102 on May 21, 2014 at 13:33

    Next year will be a big year as for decided colleges/college majors for me, so this really helped!
    A big help for me was researching careers and what they take to enter them. As for now, I’m thinking starting off with a biology degree and then narrowing in somewhere in the medical field is my best bet. A P.A. or pharmacist, maybe. But I’ve really been deciding if I want to minor in something, as I REALLY enjoy music. However, I think it’s important to keep in mind pay and the number of job opportunities. As much as being a music teacher would be a great job, I don’t think they’ll be in high demand or have a great salary. Science, math, and technologies will be in demand for a good while. So, if you have a passion for say, medieval poetry, I wouldn’t suggest going into that for a main career. There’s not a whole lot of options for careers with that degree. So, like music with me, I would make medieval literature a hobby instead of a career! As wonderful as passions are, remember to be logical, too. Although passions can help chose your career, I wouldn’t suggest to always follow them. In my opinion, chose something you’ll enjoy doing, but it doesn’t have to be your absolute passion.
    Of course, if that’s where The Lord leads you, He’ll supply all your needs. Go where He sends you!

  7. JessicaAnne

    Posted by JessicaAnne on May 7, 2014 at 13:37

    Love these tips! Thank you so much!!

  8. blindlessgirl

    Posted by blindlessgirl on May 6, 2014 at 04:46

    I also need this right now! Like really… I’ve been struggling on what major will I get, considering that I have only a year left before college ~ Hahah! Thank you very much!!

  9. ComputerDamsel

    Posted by ComputerDamsel on May 6, 2014 at 04:46

    I’ve already decided on my major. May I add some ideas? 🙂
    One thing that helped me was going to my parents. My mother majored in electrical engineering and my father started in finance and ended in computer architecture. My father also told me that he could be a mentor if I majored in computer science or a related field. Computer science has stuck with me since I was fifteen.

    “3. Pick a major or emphasis in your areas of strength.” This is sometimes hard to discern. For anyone struggling, I would recommend looking at SAT and ACT scores. The ACT analyzes scores and suggests possible areas of interest. They’ve even created a map where north, south, east, and west are data, ideas, things, and people. Just search for “ACT majors map” and it should be one of the first results (it’s from act.org). If you’ve taken the ACT, your printable results will include your range of interests on the map. (And yes, computer science is in my area of interests.)

  10. LivingforHim2012

    Posted by LivingforHim2012 on May 5, 2014 at 18:59

    Needed this! Still trying to decide what I want to do as a career. So many wonderful careers in the world, and I just need to zero in on one! Thanks so much!! 🙂