Choosing a degree is one of the most pivotal choices in a person's academic career. It, therefore, follows that the process of making a decision about a degree is often wrought with stress and confusion. Even once an area of study is selected, many students find themselves mid-way through the program deciding on a different course of action altogether. To make a wise decision initially and avoid changing horses midstream, it is important to do some digging and keep a few tactics in mind.
First and Foremost, Self-Reflect.
Identify your strengths and your weaknesses, your likes and dislikes, even go so far as to make a list of your personality traits. Involve those who know you best in this process, as an outsider's perspective always enables us to see more possibilities. A degree ultimately serves to prepare you for a specific career, or at the very least educate you about the field your future career will be in, so it's time to think about what you could see yourself doing. What extracurriculars have motivated you? What subjects interest you? What comes easily to you? Ask yourself these questions to begin your brainstorming process.
Do Your Homework.
Once you have even a vague idea of what career you could envision yourself in, it's time to consider the logistics and crunch some numbers. What would that career entail? How much schooling will it require and are you prepared to follow-through? How about the job outlook? It can feel stressful to think about the financial aspects of the career at such an early stage in the planning, but it is important nevertheless. If unsure about the outlook in the field for the next several years, the best place to begin your research is the US Department of Labor. Check out the Department of Labor's website for comprehensive information regarding the statistics of your chosen area of study. It will inform you as to the median pay, level of degree required, as well as the growth rate over the next several years.
Consider the Schools Themselves.
Many schools have high reputations for very select programs. If you are thinking about becoming a business major, for example, it's clearly important to look into the top business schools.
If you're already committed to a school but still considering your area of study, do some outside research to figure out which of the degrees your school is offering are the most reputable. Equally as important as the degree you receive is the school you receive it from, so do your due diligence and make an informed decision.
When you complete your research, go back over your notes from your soul-searching and review your interests once more. Ultimately the decision you make should represent a balance between what you are passionate about and what logically makes the most sense. The more your heart is in the path you are choosing, the more enjoyable your studies will be and the easier it will be to excel. Do your research, go with your gut, and embrace your new academic endeavor wholeheartedly!