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Guide to Choosing a College/University Major in the U.S.

May 7th, 2015

“A major is a specific subject area that students specialize in. Typically, between one-third and one-half of the courses you’ll take in college will be in your major or related to it.” (The College Board)

Applying to a U.S. college to pursue your undergraduate studies is daunting, not to mention waiting for the acceptance and the dreaded rejection letters. Once you have received your acceptance and headed to your desired institution, you face another challenge, that of choosing a college major, unless you’re one of the rare few who has known all along what he/she wants to major in.

The Challenge

Challenge

Choosing a college major for majority of undergraduate students can be overwhelming. Schools don’t make it any easier for students either. There are hundreds of majors to choose from and you want to make the right decision that will serve you well into you adult life, one that will help you on your career path and or graduate study. Naturally, it is a big commitment, but it’s not a life sentence and many college graduates end up in careers that had no direct relation to their majors or end up changing careers over the years. Point is that you want to select a major you will enjoy as you will be spending a great deal of time studying whatever subject you select.

The Homework

Homework

You can get started by doing a little homework of your own. At some U.S. colleges, you can major in two fields, have both a major and a minor (a specialization that requires fewer courses than a major) and even have the freedom to create your own major.

Ask yourself these questions as you ponder over selecting the right major for you:

Career-related

• What type of career or careers can you see yourself in?
• What type of work do you enjoy doing?
• What type of work environment do you see yourself in for a long time?
• If you had a part-time job when you were in high school or worked before starting college, what did you learn about your past work experience? What did you like and dislike?
• If you completed a career assessment in high school, what did your results indicate?

Hobbies & Interests

• What are your interests?
• Which subjects did you enjoy studying the most in high school?
• What type of skills do you have?
• Do you have any hobbies that you would like to pursue as a career?

Loyola University of Chicago has a quiz you can take to help you narrow down your choices or at least help you see what your options are in picking a college major. If you want to give their quiz a try, here’s the link to their site: http://www.luc.edu/undergrad/academiclife/whatsmymajorquiz/

The Exploration and Discovery

thinkingcap

While being undecided is fine, it’s good to have some idea of what you want to do or at least have a few ideas on majors you can explore and choose from once you start college. Typically, most US colleges allow you to go around undecided through your freshman (first) year but by the end of your sophomore (second) year, they do expect you to choose a major before you can continue onto your junior (third) year of studies. Though this will not be the case for some majors such as engineering, which require you to commit to taking the prerequisite courses earlier.

Again, remember you can be undecided in your first year which gives you the opportunity to explore a variety of courses. So, take a class or two in disciplines that interest you. This will help you get a better understanding of the field and if it is what you want to continue studying for the career of your dreams.

College is a huge investment, especially in the U.S., and choosing a major that will prepare you for a specific career is important. Check out PayScale.com for up-to-date information on their College ROI reports. Majors that lead to the highest salaries include any engineering specialty, computer science, economics, actuarial mathematics, physics, and economics.

Don’t write off liberal arts courses just because you may think all the jobs are for engineers and computer scientists and nothing for philosophy or English majors. Employers are looking for and value individuals who have critical thinking skills and writing abilities and these are exactly the qualities liberal arts majors provide. Though selecting a major that guarantees employment and a salary commensurate with your talents and education is important, you do need to keep in mind your quality of life; ultimately you want to be doing what makes you happy and not be trapped in a high paying job that makes you miserable.

Finally, once in college, don’t hesitate to talk to professors, department heads, peer advisors, and other students and ask for their help. If you can, find an internship off campus. Continue exploring your interests in your first and second years, complete the required general education courses and you may just find the major that best fits your interests and even your ideal career.

Helpful links:
http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-economic-guide-to-picking-a-college-major/
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/education/edlife/choosing-one-college-major-out-of-hundreds.html?_r=0
http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2011/09/19/5-ways-to-pick-the-right-college-major

Alan
Alan Saidi
Senior Vice President & COO

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL
The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit http://www.acei-global.org.

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Dispatches from the NAGAP Conference in San Diego, CA

May 2nd, 2014

Coronado_Bridge
Coronado Bridge, San Diego

The 27th annual conference of the National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals (NAGAP) http://www.nagap.org is being held in downtown San Diego at the Grand Manchester Hyatt Hotel.

NAGAP
Entrance to the exhibit hall

With our President and CEO, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, we arrived in San Diego yesterday to a warm welcome where temperatures hovered in the low 90’s (Fahrenheit). San Diego’s downtown has undergone a huge facelift and now boasts luxury condominiums, four-star hotels and a wide range of restaurants.

Driving through the clean and orderly streets of downtown San Diego, Jasmin made the following observation: “This isn’t how I remember the downtown when I was an undergrad at the University of San Diego and it never was this hot when I lived here, but unusual shifts in our climate are occurring everywhere around the globe these days and San Diego is not immune.”

This is ACEI’s first NAGAP conference and we chose to have a presence with our booth in the exhibit hall. NAGAP is as its full name describes an association for individuals who are engaged in graduate admissions at U.S. colleges and universities, though there are attendees were Canadian institutions as well as several other parts of the world.

We met Gunay Ziyadova, Associate Director of Graduate Admissions, School of Business at ADA University in Azerbaijan and even a student from Sofia University in Bulgaria who had studied fine arts and now intends to attend a U.S. college to study hotel and hospitality management.

NAGAP_2
Clayton Winston (ACEI) and Gunay Ziyadova (ADA University, Azerbaijan)

Jasmin who serves on the executive committee of TACEP (The Association of International Credential Evaluation Professionals) hosted a meeting with some members who are attending NAGAP, offering a quick update on the recent developments within the association.

While attending the awards luncheon we were fortunate to meet Guity Nadjafie who is the Director of Graduate Admissions at Concordia University in Quebec, Canada. While pining over the summer like weather we discussed Canada’s new policies on international education admissions and immigration. For example, international students who previously were able to take a leave of absence per term at the graduate level to concentrate on their research/thesis are no longer able to do so and must leave the country. However, the question remains, whether reentry will be possible or will the process require application for visas and admission; questions that remain to be answered. The recent mentioned policies could significantly affect the flow of international students applying to Canadian universities.

This has been very successful conference for us. We have met and made new contacts with several directors of graduate admissions at US universities who are interested in working with ACEI. We look forward to helping them and their international students with their credential evaluation need to qualify for graduate admissions.

Clayton

Clayton Winston
Director of Communications, ACEI
clayton@acei-global.org

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Top 10 States in the U.S. for International Students

May 23, 2013

“I never truly understood myself until I met the other. I never truly met the other until I got past myself. What are time and distance, but bridges to be crossed on my journey to meet the other, and in so doing, find myself?” ~Unknown

International education, whether it is a globalization of academic curriculum or student exchange or both, is important as it forces necessary introspection at the same time it engages the other. We can say “international education” serves as a “bridge” between countries and cultures. Countries may not enjoy good diplomatic relations, people of different religious beliefs may not understand one another, and people speaking different languages may not be able to communicate, but international education promotes cross-cultural understanding when students from different parts of the world work together on a project, share dorm rooms, study or conduct research together. Their different customs, tradition, religious beliefs, political affiliations and different languages are bridged through educational endeavors. The importance of international education goes far beyond the individual…it is citizen diplomacy at its best.

International education is also good for the economy. If you didn’t know this already, it goes without saying that international student exchange contributed an estimated $22.7 billion to the U.S. economy in fiscal year 2011-2012. According to the Open Doors Data – Institute of International Education: “Higher education is among the United States’ top service sector exports, as international students provide revenue to the U.S. economy and individual host states for living expenses, including room and board, books and supplies, transportation, health insurance, support for accompanying family members, and other miscellaneous items.”

Here are the top 10 States in the U.S. and the estimated revenue contributed to each state’s economy in the 2011-12 academic year:

1. California $3.215 billion
California
Source: http://www.mybackgrounds.com

2. New York $2.59 billion
New_York
Source: http://www.guardnow.com

3. Texas $1.356 billion
Texas
Source: http://www.blueprep.com

4. Massachusetts $1.49 billion
Massachusetts
Source: http://www.wallpaper.com

5. Illinois $1.004 billion
Illinois
Source: http://www.destination360.cpm

6. Pennsylvania $1.077 billion
Pennsylvania
Source: http://www.citywallpapers.com

7. Florida $935.7 billion
Florida
Source: http://www.destination360.com

8. Ohio $717.0 million
Ohio
Source: http://www.fanpop.com

9. Michigan $758.7 million
Michigan
Source: http://www.fantom-xp.com

10. Indiana $688.2 million
Indiana
Source: http://www.indianalandmarks.com

If there are any misconceptions out there about international students being a drain on the U.S. economy or taking seats away from domestic students, the figure reported by IIE’s Open Door should set the record straight.

Useful links: http://eca.state.gov/impact/state-state-data/

ACEI

Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc.
www.acei1.com

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