Gaining a bachelor’s degree will undoubtedly do wonders for your job opportunities down the line, but how do you choose the right major?
Washington Post author Jeffrey J. Selingo reports that the five most common fields in an undergraduate business major – finance, accounting, marketing, management, and general business – make up 20% of awarded bachelor’s degrees every year.
A degree in business is certainly the most popular for undergraduates in the United States, but does that mean it’s automatically the best?
It depends on you – what you are good at, what you are interested in, and what your goals are. “Find a major that will challenge you to work hard and spend time on specific tasks, such as writing, reading or math programs,” Selingo writes, “One that will present you with opportunities to learn from the best professors and be surrounded by peers who will constantly challenge you.”
It can be difficult to know the right choice in your first year of college, so here are a few questions to help you determine whether business is the right major for you.
1. Do I know enough about business administration?
First things first: be sure you know everything that a business major entails. Your first year in college can get overwhelming. It may be tempting to pick business as a major because it sounds familiar, safe, and well, business-like. Instead, take your time getting to know the program. Talk to professors and upperclassmen in the business department to find out if this is even a field that interests you.
2. Does my college have a strong business program?
Many colleges have a program that they are particularly known for. In most cases this is the business department, but not always. Research your college’s business program rank and whether or not the reputation will carry over once you enter the working world.
3. What are the prerequisites and requirements for a business major?
Part of getting to know the major is taking the time look at what’s expected of you. Which prerequisites will you need to take in your first and second year? What courses are required? Which electives seem the most appealing and beneficial? Reading through the syllabus for a handful of business courses will go a long way toward helping
you determine if majoring in business is actually a good fit for you. On the flip side, you can also take a look at some related majors or concentrations available. Bringing the alternatives into the equation should give you a better picture of what you like (and don’t like) about a business major.
4. What do I want to be when I grow up?
You’re no longer in kindergarten, but it’s still a good idea to ask yourself this question. What do you want to do after you graduate college? If you want to work for a Fortune 500 or start your
own company, a business major is a great choice. If you’re passionate about something else, like art or technology, another option may be better. You want to find a major that fits what you already want to do rather than feeling forced to pick what is often as seen as the ‘best’ major.
5. Which skills do I want to learn in college?
The classes you take as a business major will give you plenty of transferable and marketable
business skills – from mastering Excel spreadsheets to learning effective project management. Other sought-after skills include budgeting, sales, customer service, and even basic accounting. While these skills are inherently helpful, you should ask yourself what you truly want to learn in college. If you have a passion for writing or design, other skills may prove to be more relevant to your interests.
The Bottom Line: Do Your Homework
This is clearly not a decision that can be taken lightly. The best college major for you depends as much on your own personality and ambitions as it does the actual merits of the major. Carefully think through these questions before jumping in head first – you’ll thank yourself later!
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