Many factors go into finding the right college, and they vary from person to person. Some students look for the overall academic rigor, the amount of scholarship money offered, or even sports available. But what about college major?
Though plenty of students find their college first and decide on their major later, using your major as your guide in finding the right college for you can be extremely powerful.
Related: The Truth About College Majors
Your college major can influence your college search in a variety of ways. For instance, if you start your search already knowing exactly what you want to major in, then you will look at colleges that only offer that specific major. Depending on how common or uncommon your major is, it can narrow your choices significantly—sometimes by thousands of schools.
But what if you’re interested in a pretty popular major? When I conducted my college search, I knew I wanted to major in English. I Googled “colleges with best English programs” or “top 10 colleges with best English department.” However, if you are planning to major in such a common major as English—and practically every university has an English program—then you need to dig a little deeper and get specific in your college search.
This usually starts with researching the quality of the major and academic program at the schools you’re considering, including what kind of reputation (and accreditation) it has, what kind of minors and concentrations are available, how easily its graduates find jobs in their field, and what those jobs are. You can also see if the colleges gets consistently ranked for your major program (even though you should take college rankings with a grain of salt!). Finally, you can look at the length of the program (will you have opportunities to take a second major or study abroad?) and the opportunities it can provide, like internships, research with faculty, and maybe even related extracurriculars on campus.
For me, whether or not a university had a publishing degree or program was important, and I was able to greatly narrow my list to my top three colleges by searching for schools that had publishing programs.
Even if you are undecided, majors will still influence your college search. When searching for colleges as an undecided student, you should make sure your schools have a variety of majors for you to choose from when the time is right. Also, in case you ever need to change your major, you will have a variety to choose from. There are even many colleges that allow students to design their own majors or independent study. If you are the type of person who has many interests, then these are schools you should definitely be looking into.
Related: How to Choose Your Major (or Not)
Finding a college is already hard enough with all the other factors you need to take into consideration, so why not make it easier? Using your potential major as a tool in your college search will definitely help narrow your list. While your major may not seem like a big influence on your college choice, you might discover it’s one of the most important factors.
How is your major impacting your college search—or is it not impacting it at all? Let us know in the comments, or share your story on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.