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Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 02/07/2012

Admissions 101: Smart and lazy ways to pick a college major

Arizona State University sophomore architecture major Scott Johnson (James Carreno - Associated Press)
I picked my college major, Government, because I was interested in politics and knew that its demands were less than other majors I might have attempted, such as history or East Asian languages. To put it more simply, it was a gut major that many of my colleagues on the student newspaper chose because it would allow us to spend all our time at the paper and get by with entertainingly written, if thinly sourced, papers and exams. Our managing editor (now my wife of 44 years) switched to government from American History and Literature, a wise move that prevented her from suffering the fate of many managing editors before and after her. They were put on academic probation and had to leave school for awhile.

It worked out for me, but Laurence Shatkin's book "Panicked Student's Guide to Choosing a College Major" suggests a more far-sighted process. Be careful, he says, not to pick a major that is going to lead you to a career that is too competitive for your taste, or doesn't suit your personality type, or doesn't match your skills. He says a good guide to a major is to think of the courses you did best in in high school.

So why did you pick a major? And would your method work for today's students? Is it advisable to go for the major that is most comfortable, even if it may leave you more free time than is good for you?

By  |  11:45 AM ET, 02/07/2012

Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  higher education, college majors

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