Which major should you choose?

Choosing a major is probably even more important than choosing a school. When you're filling out a college application, should you choose a major you're good at or one that interests you? Should you base your decision solely on job prospects right now, or maybe consider a degree that might be in demand by the time you graduate? When it comes to choosing a major, there's definitely a lot to think about.

The first thing to consider is whether you want to pursue a more practical degree program, or an academic one. A good example of a more practical, or vocational course, as they're sometimes known, is nursing. English, history or philosophy would be considered more academic programs, as there is no clear, defined career path for these majors.

Vocational qualifications build upon a solid foundation of practical skills that can be directly applied to specific careers after you graduate, whereas academic courses can be used in a variety of professions, or as entry qualifications for graduate school.

Another factor you might want to consider is whether to earn an associate's or a bachelor's degree. An associate's degree program may be better suited to vocational courses in majors like information technology, and can be completed in two years instead of four. Bachelor's degrees can be ideal for majors such as communications and criminal justice, but take four years to complete. Some majors may only be offered as an associate's degree, whereas others will only available as part of a four-year program.

Some majors and career paths could be more promising in terms of employment prospects than others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses (RNs) are expected to be in great demand over the next six years, due to an aging population and the increasing availability of healthcare services.

Other fields that are expected to show signs of growth and demand for graduates are teachers, especially in subject areas such as science and mathematics; social workers, particularly those who are certified to work in hospital environments; and urban and regional planners.

Talk to your college admissions adviser, and your high school guidance counsellor about which majors are of interest to you, and how this could affect your decision. Discuss your thoughts on potential career paths with your parents, and ask their advice. Choosing a major with solid employment prospects is important, but you should ultimately select a degree program that interests you. 

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