Getting into college was only the beginning of your higher education journey. If your sophomore year is coming up or about to end, it might be time to seriously consider committing to a degree plan. The sooner you declare a major, the sooner you can graduate and work in your desired field. Many college students declare a major too early and repeatedly change their minds. Others wait longer than necessary and rack up extra courses that won’t count toward their degree. Both situations could result in paying for nonessential classes that do little to move you closer to your credential.
While college is a time to explore various interests through elective courses, consider focusing on a specific major before beginning upper-division coursework.
Here are five questions you should ask before next semester.
1. What’s it like to work in the field?
Get to know career service staff members at your school. They might offer to connect you with alumni with in-field experience. You could also visit O*NET OnLine to perform a job analysis. Use their Find Occupations feature to uncover detailed work activities, work styles, and work values associated with a specific position. As you learn more about the realities of a specific occupation, you might find yourself reconsidering your career goals.
2. Which majors are likely to land me an entry-level position in my chosen field?
The Occupational Outlook Handbook can answer questions related to minimum education requirements, expected pay, career outlook, and degree requirements. High schoolers and even college sophomores might find this reference tool helpful when exploring career options. If you’re already well into your junior year and haven’t declared a major, this research could bring good news. Depending on the coursework you’ve already completed, you might be closer to finishing a degree than you previously thought.
3. Will I need to improve my math skills?
If you intend to major in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM), you could be on the path to earning one of the highest starting salaries for college graduates. But, if your math skills are weak, you may need to factor in a few extra courses to boost your problem-solving and analytical skills. This could be one occasion when it would be worth taking additional remedial courses that may not count toward your degree.
4. Who can I speak with at my college about declaring a major?
Some colleges require students to meet with a faculty member or academic department head before or as part of picking a college major. Speaking with someone early can help you gather additional resources to ensure you’re following a degree plan aligned with your career goals. They should also be able to tell you how many other courses you must take if you later decide to switch majors.
If you recently declared a major and discovered you must attend school longer than planned, an extra tuition bill might be in your future. When federal financial assistance or savings isn’t enough to cover the cost of the remaining courses to complete your degree, a low-interest rate private student loan could help cover those educational expenses.
WFCU through our partner LendKey offers variable and fixed-rate private student loans to help you pay for gaps in funding. Apply today!