How to make the most of an unpopular major

May 29, 2012

Do you have your heart set on Folklore and Mythology? Is Esperanto your foreign language of choice? Or more realistically, maybe you're invested in a theology major or alternative healthcare studies. Luckily, college majors aren't a popularity contest, and while there are winners, they're never clear-cut - so if you want to explore the healthful effects of drum circles, there's an educational outlet for that and perhaps a career.

Prospective students have likely already discovered they can't be whatever they want to be when they grow up. But with rigorous study, careful planning, and good networking, you can make even the most head-scratching of majors work.

To put it bluntly, if you want to make money, go into petroleum engineering. In fact most things that contain engineering or pharmaceuticals are a good bet. But not everyone's heart lies in those industries, and we wouldn't be a functioning society were that the case. Try these tips to make the most of your major, popularity aside.

1. Scholarship searches - lots of them. Here's the number one rule of education finances: search out every scholarship you can apply for and pursue it. Scholarships, grants and financial aid for college students will be your closest friends during and after your undergraduate years. Don't be intimidated by the number of scholarship opportunities available - be heartened by them and begin applying.

2. Find the school that fits your major. No matter how esoteric, there's probably a school that specializes in exactly what you want to do. If you just absolutely need to study puppetry or naval architecture find the school with the best faculty and facility for that. Once there, mine that college or university for all it's worth - network with professors, lecturers and like-minded students.

3. Have a back-up plan. If you're worried about running out of courses, consider taking a double-major. This has the added perk of allowing you to explore education outside your discipline, which - simply stated - is kind of fun. Taking a double major isn't failure, it's preparation. It will also help test your resolve when it comes to grad school or PhD applications.

So maybe you're too tall to become a NASA astronaut, and all dreams don't come true. But this isn't a reason not to pursue what you love. Work hard, strive, make good choices and pursue financial aid information. Make the most of your passion.

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