If you’re a high school or returning college student and you already know what you want to study for your bachelor’s degree, congratulations!
Now you need to find a school that offers your major. With so many out there, it can be a little overwhelming trying to figure out which one will be right for you. Here are some steps to picking a college that not only offers your major, but that will put you in great shape to start your career.
Finding Colleges by Major: How to Get Started
Do Some Research
A great place to start finding schools that offer your major is online. Check out U.S. News & World Report’s College Ranking section, which breaks down college and graduate schools by different disciplines, so you’ll know which schools are the strongest in the field you want to study. For undergraduate programs the categories tend to be more broad (such as liberal arts, business and engineering), but for graduate programs, you can dig down into rankings based on subject area, such as economics, English, history, the fine arts, and more. (Because graduate programs with strong departments in a particular field naturally extend that knowledge to their undergraduates, this information still applies to those who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree.) Another great place to start is this Wall Street Journal article, which also offers rankings by major.
Contact Local Organizations
If you know you want to go into a specific field, such as accounting or dental hygiene, contact your local chapter of the professional organization for that industry. Explain that you’re a student looking to enter this sector, and ask for their recommendations regarding local or online accredited programs. They should be able to help you find programs that are looked upon favorably by the industry. This assistance can be invaluable for fields such as health care, where the rules for accreditation and requirements can vary state to state. Rather than trying to figure it out on your own, professional organizations can fill you in on all the exams and certifications you’ll need to pass once you graduate, as well as which schools are the strongest in your field.
Talk to a Professional
No one knows a school better than its alumni. Talking to a professional who works in the field you want to enter or who studied at a college you’re considering can be a great way to find the right school for you. Talking to an alum will allow you to get a level of detail about a particular school that you won’t find online, such as what the coursework is like, if internship opportunities are available, and what he or she thought of the college’s career resource center. Speaking to a professional who studied your major can also be a great way to learn more about alternate career options that will be available to you once you graduate.
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