by Anna Scott
Choosing a college major can be one of the most influential — and difficult — decisions in a person’s life. Majors are often used as a base for lifelong careers, so choosing the right one is important. Whether they attend public, private, or charter schools, most high school students already know this and are stressed when faced with deciding which major and career to pursue. That’s why you should put a good bit of thought into planning for the future, and one of the best times to start is during high school.
Nevada State High School (NSHS) offers the opportunity for juniors and seniors to attend community colleges and earn college credits, and possibly even associate’s degrees if they’re motivated and work hard. However, with this opportunity, students come to face the all-important decision of choosing a college major even sooner than normal. While it is not strictly necessary to make a final decision before starting classes at NSHS, it can help a great deal to know your end goal. As you plan which classes to take, choosing ones that align with a higher degree can save more money if you transfer to a university.
Going into my junior year at NSHS, I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do with my life. I’d had an interest in marine biology while in middle school, but job prospects in that field were slim. I found myself wondering if I could really make a career that I would be secure in out of studying in that field. I knew I loved the idea of traveling all over and discovering new things firsthand, but I also wanted a certain amount of stability and the ability to pay off any college debt.
This leads me to my first suggestion for choosing a major: consider what you want to get out of a career. You may not have a specific job in mind, but maybe you know that you would like to have a high income or moral fulfillment from your job. Stability, how many job openings are projected in a field, your work style, and any other priorities you have should all be things you consider when looking at majors.
My second suggestion is to look at the majors offered at the colleges or universities you are considering attending. You may have some dream schools in mind, or you could be sure you’re going to stay in-state because of the lower tuition. All schools advertise their majors, and it’s worthwhile to review several different schools’ majors to see if anything stands out and looks interesting to you. If you want, pick several interesting-looking ones, and research what careers can result from those majors.
I used this method when deciding what major and career I wanted to pursue going into Nevada State High School. It was a stressful decision for a 15-year-old, but in the last couple of years I have been relieved to have a plan for my future and found myself excited rather than nervous and apprehensive about the prospects ahead. Back then, though, even thinking about making this decision was difficult. Unsure and anxious, I decided to pull out the College of Southern Nevada’s list of majors to start with. There, I found more direction than I had expected. Reading through, I got stuck almost right away on “aviation science.” Upon more research and exploration of possible careers in aviation, I decided to pursue a career as a professional pilot and major in the field as well. It had some of my top priorities: travel, income, and projected job openings.
Maybe you have an idea of what field you’d like to go into after considering your priorities and the topics that excite you, but you don’t need to be absolutely sure right away. One of the great things about NSHS is that you can prepare for your degree while still in high school. Taking the classes you will definitely need for your bachelor’s degree can potentially save you thousands of dollars. A great thing to do is to go ahead and sign up for one or two classes that are closely related to a career/major you are interested in to see how you like studying the material. If you fall in love with the career field like I did, great! If not, you’ll be glad you crossed that option out before spending precious resources or potentially deciding where to go to college based on something that doesn’t work out. Signing up for classes isn’t the only way to decide if your major is right for you, but it can help a great deal since community college classes mirror those you might find at a university.
A final way to see if a major is right for you involves talking to and seeking out professionals in the field. People can be the most valuable resources, and, if you’re still unsure about your major, just talking through your decision with an NSHS staff member or another trusted person can help you sort through your own thoughts and provide direction in planning the next step toward a great future.