How to Choose from Top-Rated College Majors

Choosing a college major can feel like an incredibly overwhelming choice for students of all ages. In high school, students are handed daunting, thousand-page books listing top-rated college majors, or subjected to cryptic career quizzes that leave them with more questions than answers. Even students who enter college committed to one major often end up switching to something entirely different. 

Top-rated college majors

Picking a major doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, it’s exciting! But with so many options, it’s important to narrow down the list. Here I will offer some simple tips and facts to help guide your decision.

It is essential to note that most colleges do not require students to commit to a major until the end of their sophomore year. There is no pressure to commit earlier, and no need to decide definitively as a high school student. That said, certain pathways might have requirements starting as early as high school, so it’s a good idea to start thinking now.

The Top 10 Top-Rated College Majors

According to the Princeton Review, the top-rated college majors are:

  1. Computer Science
  2. Communications
  3. Government/Political Science
  4. Business
  5. Economics
  6. English Language and Literature
  7. Psychology
  8. Nursing
  9. Chemical Engineering
  10. Biology

Your Major Changes Based on Career Goals

As you can see, this list contains a wide range of options. The major you choose should depend of course on your personal interests, but also on your future priorities.

Top-rated college majors finance

If your priority is to be making a solid salary straight out of college, you might want to find your niche in engineering, which can have a starting salary of over $70,000 a year according to Kiplinger’s 2019 list of “Best College Majors for a Lucrative Career”. Nursing and finance would also be excellent options, with starting salaries of around $60,000 a year. 

If you prioritize career flexibility, a major like English might be a good choice. While it’s common to hear people groan that there are “no jobs for English majors”, this simply isn’t true. Skilled readers and writers are valued in industries across the board such as journalism, law, and business. Majors like psychology, communications, and computer science also have a similarly versatile range of careers. If there’s still no major that feels right for you, you might want to look into colleges that allow you to design a major from scratch.

Your Major Affects Your College Course Load

Next, you should consider your prospective major’s requirements. Some programs will require that you take a series of specific courses, while others will be more lax. Requirements will also depend on whether you’ve chosen an academic track that leads directly to graduate school. Most of the more technical majors—like medicine, engineering, law, etc.—will have a direct learning path such as pre-med or pre-law for undergraduates, many of whom are expected to go on to complete terminal degrees like master’s and doctorates. There are hosts of terminal degree graduate programs in creative fields as well. However, these programs are not essential to an artist’s ability to make art in the way that passing the bar exam is essential to a lawyer’s ability to practice law. 

Once you’ve decided on a major, it’s time to take a look at your school’s list of minors. Minors are a fabulous way to incorporate other interests into your studies. Maybe you’re majoring in something related to the arts, in which case a STEM or marketing oriented minor would be a great way to diversify your degree. Or maybe you are majoring in business, and a minor in something like theatre or art history would allow you to explore your creative side. This way, when future employers look at your resume, they’ll see a jack of all trades with an adaptable skillset. Minors, as trivial as they seem, can set you apart from the rest. It can maybe even lead to some lively conversation during future interviews. 

At the end of the day, choosing a major is a highly personal decision. If you’re still scratching your head, be sure to reach out to your high school guidance counselor or college adviser—they will be more than happy to sit down, hear out your goals, and offer up suggestions. After all, giving guidance is their expertise! Staying informed on the possibilities while keeping in touch with your personal goals will make the process feel less scary. There’s something out there for everyone—it’s why the options are limitless.

About the Author

Cassidy A.

Cassidy A.

Cassidy A. is an experienced English tutor at Gooroo, a tutoring membership that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers Math, English, SAT, Coding, Spanish tutoring, and more.