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How to Choose Your Major

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Jobs are far more complex than than they used to be. At the same time, today there are endless possibilities for the types of job that you can have. It’s no wonder why so many new college students get lost or confused about what classes they should take and what their major should be. Here are some suggestions from an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Fischer and Glenn. It was written in 2009, but remains very relevant. Some of the suggestions below may give you an idea about what to study or even to major in.

The following fields are offering job opportunities.

Information Management

19 billion dollars has been invested by the government to improve how health records are stored. This area is all about data analysis. Why? Because we are swimming in data which has to be stored in manageable, efficient ways. Not only do we have loads of information in medical records, but think about libraries today, actuarial charts, genetic codes, etc. Now begin to think about storing that information so it can be easily retrieved from anywhere at anytime via the new technologies of today.

You would start by studying mathematics and computer science.

Computational Science

Don’t confuse this with computer science. This is not about designing programs; it’s about using the computer as a tool for modeling and simulation, the modern way to solve problems. Why? To do predictions. We want to predict climate changes, genetic changes, new markets, etc.

You would study advanced mathematics, computer science, chemistry, and engineering.

Public Health

This career area has already been popular. But, it goes further than working with people in public health. Today it is about addressing and managing public health issues in the community: dealing with seniors, drug addicts, mental health problems, immunization, etc.

You would study statistics and public policy

Services

The service industry has a bad reputation. People tend to think of hotels, fast food chains, and malls when they hear service. Now ideas of what service is are expanding because 80% of our economy covers services. Think of service as heating homes, lighting streets, cooking, traveling, etc. The emphasis now is not on face-to-face delivery but on increasing innovation and improving productivity.

You would study service science, service management, engineering, and business.

Sustainability

Green is certainly the new buzz word. We need new building materials, implementation of new energy services like wind turbines, and more energy auditing.

You would study green architecture, agricultural sciences, economics, etc.

If you have thought about the new areas for jobs above, you will note that many are interdisciplinary: science and business, policy and engineering, agriculture and statistics. That means you can start studies in a broad way your first two years of college and end up with new and interesting double majors.  Specific programs are pretty new and are mostly available in graduate programs, but also undergraduate programs are beginning to meet the demands of these new job openings.