Woodson Students Discuss the Most Popular College Majors

Tamara Nguyen, Editor in Chief

A weightless astronaut defying gravity on the moon, a life-saving surgeon ready at the operating table or a brave firefighter rushing to a crisis; every kid has a dream job growing up. However, when it comes to actually filling out college applications, deciding a major may be harder than it seems. Though picking a major isn’t a binding contract that ultimately determines one’s career path, majors prepare students for what they want to do when they enter the work field. Among the hundreds of available majors, there are a few that conquer in terms of popularity.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the most popular major in the U.S. from 2017 to 2018 was business, with 386,201 business degrees obtained out of 1,980,644 bachelor degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions. Health professions and related programs followed with 244,909 degrees. Social studies, history, engineering and biological and biomedical sciences were also among the most popular majors.

A majority of these degrees are in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field. Over the last ten years, the number of STEM jobs grew three times as fast as jobs in non-STEM fields. Because of this growing demand, schools like Woodson are beginning to push programs such as computer science and engineering towards students.

“Organizations like Computer Science Honors Society (CSHS) and many teachers encourage students to get into those classes,” said senior Drew Laikin, who will major in computer science. “For example, we would have a few people from CSHS do a presentation during returns about why they should take computer science.”

This push has influenced a large number of Woodson students to further their education in computer science and other STEM-related fields.

Photo courtesy of Rachel Huh.

“I was already pretty set on doing computer science before high school,” said senior An Huynh. “But Woodson definitely does push it through advertisements and events.”

Besides outside influences, an important factor in deciding a major is a mix of personal interest and what potential opportunities the major offers.

“I wanted to choose a major and career where I could use my interests in math, science and creativity,” said senior Rachel Huh, who will major in engineering. “I also really liked that engineers have a direct impact on people and the way that they live.”

Another major that is popular among Woodson students is biology. Most students planning to major in biology are on a pre-medicine track, but other students plan to focus on other types of biology.

Senior Ella Svarverud, who will major in marine biology, is largely influenced by her father who also studied marine biology in college. 

“He would always take me fishing, to the aquarium and on our sailboat,” said Svarverud. “A lot of my best memories are on the water, and he would always share tidbits of facts.”

Photo of Ella holding a sea slug, courtesy of Ella Svarverud.

Aside from STEM, there are many other students who have decided to major in social studies and arts.

“After my first year of photography here at Woodson, I realized how much I enjoyed it,” said senior Courtney Derose, who will major in photography. “I’ve found that photography has helped me cope with some difficult times in my life, and I’ve been able to find my own voice.”

Photo courtesy of Courtney Derose.

Senior Emma Bazemore is majoring in classical history because she has “always loved history as a class, so [she] took all the APs for it.” In addition, her parents were both history majors, so she grew up being fed history.

“There’s a lot of pressure at Woodson to pick something like biology or economics that would go directly into a career path,” said Bazemore. “For me, I’m not interested in pursuing history as a career, it’s just what I’m most passionate about.”

At Woodson, there isn’t one major that all students have in common. The diversity of interest, personality and background among students creates a variety in how Woodson students plan to go forth in postsecondary school. 

“Choosing a major is not set in stone. Many students end up changing their college major.” said Mrs. Lieb-Mosley, college and career specialist. “Use the assessments in Naviance to see what careers you might enjoy. Do volunteer work in the area of your interests. The FCPS Work-Based Learning Google site has great tools for career awareness and exploration.”