Is “what should I major in?” the Right Question?
As an adult learner seeking a bachelor’s degree online, you may already have selected your area of study, especially if you’re looking to advance your current career. If you’re looking to change fields or simply want to further your education, the choice may be less clear. Either way, these recommendations can help you get started.
Some Things Every Adult Learner Should Do …
DO study what you’re passionate about.
Ask yourself: what’s truly important to you? Education? Information technology? Politics? Healthcare? Business? When you’re personally connected to the subject matter, you’re more likely to put in the time and energy required to earn your bachelor’s degree.
DO consider subjects you’ve enjoyed in the past.
Think back to high school classes you found engaging, community college coursework, or other adult learning opportunities like workplace seminars or training. Your personal hobbies or passions could lend themselves to a bachelor’s degree as well.
DO keep your career goals in mind.
Adult learners have a particular advantage over recent high school graduates, who may find themselves choosing a major before they’ve had any professional experience. Not all primary fields of study or specialized undergraduate concentrations directly relate to one particular career, but planning your education around your professional interests helps you apply what you know immediately—and work productively toward the future.
DO conduct thorough research.
You wouldn’t lease a car or buy a home without first learning as much as you could. The same is true for a major decision like choosing a field of study for your bachelor’s degree. Take the time to explore your university’s offerings online. Research course content. Talk to faculty and students. Ask questions.
DO take your time.
There’s a reason many traditional universities don’t require students to choose a major until their second year; likewise, it’s important to wait before adding an undergraduate minor to your online bachelor’s degree program. Establishing your comfort in your primary field of study is key to successfully adding new multidisciplinary skills.
… And a Few Mistakes to Avoid.
DON’T feel bad about changing your mind.
Just like traditional undergraduate students who find themselves choosing a new major halfway through their college years, online adult learners may discover that their initial academic path isn’t a good fit. You may be able to apply already-completed coursework if you shift directions—and even if you can’t, it’s worth a bit of extra time so you’re not just earning “a” bachelor’s degree; you’re earning the right degree for you.
DON’T let others pressure you.
While some undergraduate students may find themselves choosing a major—or even a career—based on others’ expectations, adult learners often feel more at ease making this personal decision based on their own interests. If your employer recommends or supports a particular academic path, that’s fine, but make sure you’re pursuing it because it leads to what you truly want for yourself.
DON’T make salary potential the sole factor.
Adult learners earning their bachelor’s degree often do so because they want to advance their careers, and resources like the Bureau of Labor Statistics can be helpful; after all, education is a financial investment. But markets and industries change, so keep in mind that predictions are just that: predictions.
Above all, DON’T get overwhelmed—but DO keep going.
While on-campus and online colleges and universities may offer an incredible range of undergraduate programs, concentrations, and minors, don’t let the abundance of options stop you from pursuing your bachelor’s degree. Take a deep breath and take your time—and you’ll make the best choice for you.