Good Research Paper About Major Issues

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Students, College, Career, Decision, Choice, Life, Time, Workplace

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2021/02/23

Pressure begins early to select the “right” major. Advice is offered from a wide variety of sources. The goal in selecting a major is to succeed. Parents want their children to select careers which will provide financial security. Every parent would love to have a doctor in the family. Unfortunately, medical school is not ideal for every student. While many people are always aware of what they want to do for the rest of their lives, many others are just not sure. Selecting a major presents a real challenge. Selecting a major is an important decision. It has the ability to affect the rest of your life. While the emphasis is placed on selecting the “right” major, selecting the wrong major presents challenges as well. Selecting the wrong major can have a negative impact on your college and professional careers, which leads one to question what impact does the wrong major present and how can this be corrected?
It is difficult to choose a major. College is a period of transition. It is the time of life when adulthood is finally reached. Choosing a major is the first life decision that most students make. An informal survey conducted on campus indicates that many may not be ready to make that decision. Twenty random students were asked several questions concerning their choices concerning their chosen fields of study. Almost one-third of respondents indicated that they were not happy with the major they had selected. Four-fifths responded that if possible, they would try other majors before making a selection. Seventeen of the respondents do not believe that high school and college provided preparation for deciding a major. All of the participants demonstrated interest in a solution for making this determination. If this is indicative of the mindset of college students throughout the country, this proves that deciding on a major is difficult.
Almost 80 percent of students who took the ACT in 2013 indicated they knew what major they would pursue in college, but less than half of those, at 36 percent, had selected majors that reflected their interests. Some experts indicate that this is due to a lack of experience. It is recommended that students use the first year of college to determine the course of study to follow as more experience is gained. These results were obtained from the Interest Exam that is offered as part of the ACT exam (Sheehy, 2013).
There are several areas to consider when selecting a major. Majors can be classified into three categories, career-specific, career-oriented, and noncareer-specific. Career-specific majors provide training for a specific job. This includes engineering, accounting, education and nursing, and normally requires licensing or certification. Career-oriented majors provide generalized education s for fields of employment while not providing training for a specific job. These degrees include public relations, communications, and social work. Noncareer-specific majors, such as political science, psychology, and history, do not provide preparation for a job. When choosing a major, it is important to recognize your interests and acknowledge your strengths while determining potential majors (Nist-Olejnik & Holschuh, 2011, pp. 57-71).
Galotti, Ciner, Altenbaumer, Geerts, Rupp, and Woulfe presented research in 2005, which indicates that there are five varying styles utilized in the decision-making process. These are as follows:
Rational. This style is the most logical. It places an emphasis on researching options and applying logical evaluations to determine the best course of action. Pros and cons are considered and factored into the end result.
Intuitive. Some people rely on their intuition to make decisions. This style allows individuals to make choices based on their instincts and feelings.
Dependent. Those who employ a dependent style to make decisions rely on others to provide opinions and guidance.
Avoidant. Those who employ an avoidant style attempt to not be placed in a position to make decisions.
Spontaneous. Spontaneous people want results as quickly as possible and often act on impulses.
These decision-making styles can lead to making the wrong choice when selecting a major; however, combining these styles can prove to be beneficial. When deciding on a major, apply aspects of each in the process. Use rational thinking to provide a buffer to the other styles. Instinct can play a major role in the decision-making process. Each person knows themselves best. If something feels wrong, select a different course of action. Use that intuition as a guide. Seek advice from others, especially when there is uncertainty. That advice could prove to be invaluable; however, use that information as a guide. Being dependent on others’ opinions and advice will not help achieve your goals. Instead of attempting to completely avoid making a decision, use avoidance to help determine what to not take. If biology and anatomy classes do not spark interest, use that as a sign to avoid majors with an emphasis in those areas. Try to save spontaneity for classes that are not part of the core curriculum, such as electives. This area is the perfect time to try something different. Do not allow impulses to determine this primary life decision.
There are seven indicators to help determine if the wrong major was chosen. The first occurs when a college is chosen over the career path. Selecting a “good” college is important; however, that is negated if the career path is secondary. All students need to consider if the chosen career is suitable for that individual. A second indicator is caused by insufficient research performed to select the right major. Many times, career decisions are made without fully understanding the intricacies of the position. Motivating factors may be the amount of money that can be earned or it may be an area in which there is an initial interest that diminishes as more knowledge is received. Many students select a major to make their parents happy. Parental approval is something most students desire. This should not be the determining factor when selecting a major. While the parents’ input may be welcomed, this should not be the basis for this decision. In the long run, the majority of parents prefer for their children to spend life happily. Far too often, individuals find themselves in a position where they are unhappy, but remain in hopes that everything will “work out later”. They basically settle for a major and a career because it provides a comfort zone. The more discomfort, the more likelihood there is to change the major or the career. The sooner this occurs, the more beneficial it can be. For many, college is viewed as the perfect opportunity to meet new people and place a higher priority on presenting the best appearance possible. While looking good is a positive, it should not take precedence over selecting a career. Looks will fade while the career can be with you for life. The majority of people feel as if they have chosen the wrong career. According to Gallup studies concerning this, a mere 13 percent of people worldwide believe they are “engaged” with their work. If you feel as if you are in the wrong field of study, you probably are. Once again, the sooner this is realized, the more advantageous it can be. The final determination is made by feeling out of place, as if you do not fit in with the others in the selected area of study. If it does not feel right, it is not going to be right, regardless of the effort expended (Pathfinders, n.d.).
Some of the repercussions in selecting the wrong major include losing time, wasting money, having to start over, ending up in the wrong career, and being unhappy. Graduating at the end of four years with the wrong degree can easily make someone feel as if time and money has been wasted. Time is a commodity. That does not mean every minute of every day must be spent productively. It is different when hours are spent attending class and lectures and completing homework assignments and studying, especially when the realization hits that this is not how you want to spend the rest of your life. That time is gone. College is not cheap. Tuition, fees, books, and housing adds up quickly. These are expenses that will not be reimbursed and may have to be repaid. While still in college, it is possible to change majors. This necessitates starting over. Starting over can be difficult or it can be a new opportunity. It does require investing more time and more money. For many, the wrong major leads to the wrong career and this is not realized until they have graduated and entered the work force. The college experience is so different than the work force. There are variations in the pace of the work performed and in the overall duties associated with the job. Training alone is not indicative of things to come. All of these things alone or combined can cause unhappiness. Being unhappy with the decisions made is arguably the worst aspect of selecting the wrong major. No one wants to imagine investing the majority of their adult years being unhappy in their chosen career (Anderson, 2014).
When selecting a major, many people take aptitude tests to help determine what decision making style or career path may be best suited for them. While there is some merit in certain tests, such as the Meyer-Briggs Type Indicator, others provide vague results that could apply to anyone. These tests utilize the Barnum Effect. Whenever the Barnum Effect is utilized, the testing method and the results are completely invalid. It is used as a tool in many areas, including fortunetelling, to influence others to make bad decisions. A professional career counselor can provide access to legitimate tests and provide sound advice concerning the results (Garza, 2012).
Choosing the right major is possible. It does require deep reflection. Consider areas in which there is an interest. Determine what careers are associated with these interests and if that career has potential. Next, determine personal strengths and weaknesses. Assess if the strengths support the interests. Rely on past experiences, such as courses taken in high school or summer jobs that were worked. The third step in this process involves determining values for a career, including if working alone is a priority or if there is a desire to help society. There are many aspects in this area, but the time this assessment takes will prove to be beneficial. Know exactly what the selected major can do for your career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers an Occupational Outlook Handbook to assist in this area by providing further information concerning the careers associated with various majors. A reality check is a necessity in this process. This is the opportunity to determine the motivation for selecting a major and if the challenges presented are acceptable or the deal breaker. The final step is to narrow the choices. Rule out all possibilities that you know you will be unhappy with. Some of these will be done at the beginning of the process while others will become more apparent over time. New alternatives may also become recognized during this process, which can be a good thing as it can lead to new paths (Hansen, n.d.).
An estimated 80 percent of all college students change their majors at least once. College is a time of self-awareness and personal growth, which can lead to discovering that the major selected is not the right choice. When this happens, professional assistance may be in order to help determine a new major and many colleges offer these services through academic advisors. Utilize this resource to realize the full potential. Determine what credits will transfer to a different major and how that will impact this decision. Once again, changing majors may have associated costs. These costs may prove to be the deterrent to changing majors, especially if this change is attempted toward the end of the college career. Research how others with the same major have transitioned to a career. Many majors may not appear to provide viable careers, but further research may uncover areas in which there is a need (Rogers, 2013).
Miller offers advice on succeeding regardless of what major is chosen. These tips can also help throughout college. The first is that no job or class is inconsequential. It may not be a position of power, but still provides an arena to demonstrate personal work ethics, initiative, and abilities. It may be a smaller job or class now, but can lead to something much larger. The second is to be adaptable. Learn to listen to others instead of attempting to be the center of attention. Learn from them as they have the experience which you are currently lacking. The third is to identify your weaknesses. Learn how to overcome your weaknesses. It may be difficult, but can help to avoid unnecessary and unpleasant situations. The fourth is to rise above the rest. Do not use someone else’s misfortune to gain recognition. Do not play into the office politics and stay away from the office gossip. The last tip is to accept that others are necessary for success. By recognizing your weaknesses, surround yourself with others who possess complementary skills. Expand your network of contacts. While you may not need them now, you might at some point in the future. Develop a personal network based on trust with others that can provide guidance and advice as needed (2015).
The harsh reality is that college is a difficult time. An increase in social activities and responsibilities can prove to be overwhelming at times. While many enter college with an unwavering major predetermined, the majority do not. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. There is not a solution that will work for everyone. Choosing a major can have a lasting impact. The primary issue many face is feeling stuck in a career in which they are just not happy. This often leads to resentment and regret from choosing the wrong major. If possible, use the first year or two of college to discover yourself and identify the dreams and goals you hope to achieve throughout your lifetime. It is not easy to imagine yourself rapidly approaching middle age when you are a teenager as the person you are now is not the person you will be then. It is difficult to imagine what challenges and risks may be encountered along the way.
It is so easy to simply say do what makes you happy. This presents a different challenge for many individuals. Happiness is subjective and what makes one person happy may not have the same effect on another. Use freshman year as a period of discovery. The person you are when you arrive at college will be different from the person you will be when you graduate.
When there are uncertainties with deciding on a major, do further research. Volunteer or find intern positions to help assist with making that decision. Talk to others to see if there are commonalities that can also assist. Google potential careers in which there may be an interest to determine what is best suited for you. Visit your guidance counselor often or seek advice from other professionals in this area. Develop and practice effective decision making skills. The skills developed now can help prevent a lifetime of making wrong decisions.
Above all, be true to yourself. Do not allow yourself to follow someone else’s dream. Once you know who you are and identify what makes you the happiness, you can tailor your major and your career to achieve your goals and make your dreams a reality. By acquiring good decision-making skills, a wrong decision does not have to negatively impact the rest of your life.


Anderson, L. “Top 5 Pitfalls of Choosing the Wrong Major”. The College Helper. 2014. Web. 14 April 2015. <>
Galotti, K.M., Ciner, E., Altenbaumer, H.E., Geerts, H.J., Rupp, A., & Woulfe, J. “Decision-making styles in a real-life decision: Choosing a college major. Elsevier. 07 October 2005. Web. 13 April 2015. <>
Garza, P. “How the Barnum Effect Can Make You Choose the Wrong College Major. Relatively Interesting. 16 October 2012. Web.14 April 2015. <>
Hansen, R.S. “Choosing a College Major: How to Chart Your Ideal Path. Quintessential Careers. n.d. Web. 15 April 2015. <>
Miller, J. “Why Your College Major Doesn’t Matter”. Unreasonable. January 2015. Web. 15 April 2015. <>
Nist-Olejnik, S. & Holschuh, J.P. “Major Decisions: Selecting a Field of Study”. College Rules! 3rd Edition. 2011. Web. 13 April 2015. <>
Pathfinders. I Chose the Wrong Career: Part 1. n.d. Web. 14 April 2015. <>
Rogers, K. “You Picked the Wrong Major, Now What?” Fox Business. 25 September 2013. Web. 15 April 2015. <>
Sheehy, K. “Study: High School Grads Choosing Wrong Major”. U.S. News & World Report. 11 November 2013. Web. 14 April 2015. <>

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