Unearthing the Ideal College Major

by Julia James ‘25

Source: Julia James

Published Apr. 3rd, 2022

For many high school students, the next phase in their lives is a college education, with the cornerstone being a “college major,” which can be daunting to decide upon. Correspondingly, the question is posed: is there a holistic approach to deciding on a major? 

In a survey of 30 current MHS seniors, two of the most popular fields of study were found to be computer science and biological, physical, and health sciences, with a total of 53.4% of respondents between them. STEM fields like these are often glorified for their job prospects and high fresh-out-of-college salaries. According to U.S. News, “all 10 of the college majors with the highest starting salaries based on PayScale data are in STEM fields.” 

When considering student loan payments and stable incomes alike, the financial aspect of choosing a major is pivotal. In fact, 50% of those surveyed chose “job opportunity” as a vital factor in this choice, and 36.7% chose “financial stability.”  

To many students, however, passion is equally as important. When asked to rate their passions for their chosen majors on a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest), 90% of the seniors responded with a 4 or a 5, and the remaining 10% replied with a 3. 

Finding the intersection between passion and practicality is crucial when deciding what major and, to a greater extent, career you want to pursue. Despite this, the paramount commitment that characterizes picking a college major is often an imposing task that higher education forces on high school and college students. 

Consequently, 13.3% of the respondents listed their college major as “undecided.” One of these respondents, Julie Edelstein ‘22, plans on attending a college that guides students to remain undecided in their freshman year. She said “I could have the opportunity to explore different areas that I felt were not fulfilled to my interest or expectation in high school.” 

While some may have their college education and following career mapped out from their toddler years, scaling the terrain and examining all possible routes can be critical to finding what you really want to do, and that’s OK, too. 

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