For students considering enrolling in a degree, trying to decide which degree is right for them can be extremely difficult. Similarly, for students in a general degree, like a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science, choosing a major can be very tough. Some people have known since they were kids what they wanted to be when they grew up, making it easy for them to decide. However, there are a significant number of students who don’t know exactly what best suits them. Certainly, making the wrong decision is not always a serious problem because you can change your major or begin a new degree, but that can mean you have wasted time and need to start again at the beginning.
If you are having problems choosing your degree or your major, here is a list of questions to ask yourself that might help you decide.
• What do you like to study?
This is the first question you should ask yourself. Since you will need to spend several years studying in a degree or a major, it should be something that you will be interested in for a long time. If you have a great passion for the subjects you will study, your interest and motivation will enhance your learning and improve your grades. You should also consider your abilities and the fields in which you are talented. Studying subjects you can do well in will make things easier for you than selecting something you find too difficult to understand.
• What subjects will you study?
Make sure you are interested in most of the subjects you will be completing in your degree. And if you are enrolling in a general degree, consider the other subjects you will study outside of your major. You can find this information on the university’s website or in your degree handbook. You may also ask for advice from a career counsellor, the university’s student information service or students who are studying the degree or major you are considering.
• What kind of job do you want to have in the future?
Some people have a dream job. These people just need to find out what qualifications are necessary for that job and ensure they choose the correct degree or major. If you don’t have a dream job in mind, there might be several jobs you are interested in that you can consider. Find out what qualifications are necessary for all of these, and hopefully, finding out more about what you would be studying will help you to decide which job is more suitable for you. Also consider how important salary is to you. If a high salary is important to you, you should find out what careers offer the highest salaries and whether any of these would suit you. For students with no idea about what they would like to do, you can consider taking a career aptitude test or speaking with a career counsellor to find out what jobs you might be best suited for.
• Is there growth in the field that interests you? Does the job market require a lot of people in that field?
The career path for jobs in the field in which you are interested is another important factor you should consider. If it is likely that the future of the field is not very bright, it might be difficult for you to find a job in the competitive job market. And things are changing because of our changing economic climate. Jobs that in the past have been relatively easy to find and secure may no longer be so.
Updated 6 March 2023
Ellen McRae, PhD, AE (IPEd), MNZSTI
Senior Managing Editor