Picking a Major? 30 Questions to Ask Yourself First

In a clip from The Office, Kelly (Mindy Kaling), standing behind Stanley, sasses, "Yeah, I have a lot of questions."

Still undeclared after your freshman year? No big deal. Four out of five people don’t know what they want to major in when they enter college. You’ve got time to figure it out.

Still undeclared in your sophomore year? It’s not exactly a crisis (yet), but it’s time to get serious about making a decision. The sooner you pick a path, the sooner you can start making moves and strengthening your resume to increase your chances of getting a good job after you graduate.

What majors are other students choosing? Here are the 10 most popular majors as of 2016:

  1. Business management and administration
  2. General business
  3. Accounting
  4. Nursing
  5. Psychology
  6. Communications and mass media
  7. Marketing and marketing research
  8. General education
  9. Elementary education
  10. English language and literature

Picking a major is about more than just what classes you’re interested in. Your degree is going to have a huge impact in pretty much every part of your adult life, from how much money you earn to what time you get up in the morning to where you’ll live.

No pressure, right?

To help you wrap your mind around this epic decision, we’ve compiled 30 questions you need to ask yourself before you pick a major to help get your creative juices flowing and keep your priorities in check.

  1. What has been your favorite college course so far? 
  2. Which classes were easiest for you in high school?
  3. What did you want to be when you were a little kid?
  4. Do you want to continue going to school after you get your bachelor’s degree?
  5. Do you have to go right into that additional schooling, or can you work for a few years first?
  6. Would a potential employer pay for some or all of that additional education later on?
  7. When do you want to retire?
  8. How much money do you have to make to pay off your student loans each month?
  9. How much money do you want to make to support your lifestyle?
  10. Do you want a structured, 9-5 schedule or a more flexible situation that may include working nights or weekends?
  11. Are you willing to relocate for a job?
  12. Do you plan to live near where you grew up or went to school?
  13. Which jobs are most common in the areas where you want to live?
  14. Do you want to be able to work from home?
  15. Do you expect to share expenses with someone else with a full-time job?
  16. Do you want a family one day?
  17. Do you plan to be the primary breadwinner in your household?
  18. Do you have health limitations that would prevent you from working in the field you major in?
  19. Do you want to manage people?
  20. Do you hate the idea of sitting in a cubicle for a lot of the day?
  21. Are you more comfortable working alone or in groups?
  22. Will jobs in your major still exist in 10 years?
  23. Where can you get the best return on your college investment — what majors is your college known for?
  24. Do you know what jobs really exist in the related industry?
  25. What internships are available for that major?
  26. Are you considering any minors or certificates?
  27. What reputation, if any, does the major have?
  28. Do you expect your job to help you do good in the world?
  29. Do you know anyone who works in a related field whom you could talk with?
  30. How would your parents, friends and professors react if you declared this major?

Make no mistake, the major you select will have a big impact on the rest of your life. But that doesn’t mean it’s the number one thing hiring managers will look at. If your dream job changes as you go through college, (take our career planning quiz to see if your dream job is in insurance or risk management), there’s a good chance you’ll still be able to get it — you’ll just have to have the experience (via internships) to back it up.

For more on this idea, take a look at this TEDx Talk about “Why Your Major Will Never Matter” from a recent TEDx event at Florida State University.