High school students and early college students can feel a lot of pressure when it comes to choosing their major. Many students at this point only have a vague idea of what they are interested in or what career path they plan to pursue. Not only is it possible to change your major once you’ve chosen it, but it also might not be that big of a deal in the long-run. Here are some things to consider when facing this decision.

When Does Your College Major Come Into Play?

Depending on your plans for after college, you might be asking yourself whether your college major matters. The short answer is that in some cases it does, but in others it doesn’t. Students hoping to go into STEM careers usually need to stick with the sciences when it comes to choosing a major. But even then, they have some wiggle room.

There are two main paths after undergrad: the job path and the graduate school path. When applying for jobs and interviewing, most employers are going to be more interested in your work experience and basic skills than in your major. Liberal arts majors end up going into many different career fields. Basically, with any liberal arts degree you can show an employer that you are driven, work well with others, and have good communication skills.

Graduate school admissions officers tend to look for the same qualities. They want to see good grades, good test scores, and some work or internship experiences. For example, many lawyers start out as English majors.

Are All Majors Created Equal?

All majors are not created equal. An art history major and a chemistry major are likely to have different options when it comes to post-grad career paths. However, both an art history major and a chemistry major will have many options. It’s true that STEM majors tend to have more lucrative careers, but that only goes so far. A liberal arts major could easily be earning more than a STEM major several years down the road if they’ve worked their way up in a company and the STEM major is stuck in an entry position.

How Do You Choose a Major that Fits Your Plans?

Entry-level positions at major companies usually only require a four-year degree. Most specific job skills can be learned while on the job, so employers want to see that you can learn and work well. If you’re interested in a particular industry, but you’ve already chosen a major that might not perfectly line up, don’t panic. Focus on learning the skills that will help you break into that industry even while sticking with your chosen major.

Don’t believe the lie that you must go into a field that exactly matches your major. Not all math majors become accountants, and not all engineering majors become engineers. Choose a major that will offer you good learning opportunities and the chance to do well. Focus on getting good grades, work experience, and learning something valuable from every class you take. This will do you more good than stressing over choosing the perfect major.

For many students, living on campus will be their first time living away from family. This change means taking on new responsibilities, such as paying for housing costs. But what about keeping things eco-friendly? Whether you’re new on campus or returning for another semester, you can easily make your dorm room more environmentally friendly. Get started with these four tips.

Shop Used Instead of New

Even though most dorms include basic furniture, you’ll still need other items: clothes hangers, an alarm clock, extra lamps, bed linens, a laundry basket, decorations, and more. Hopefully, you can get some free stuff from Mom and Dad or Aunt Kathy. For almost everything else, you can buy used instead of new.

Start looking at garage sales, consignment shops, thrift stores, or even Craigslist for what you need. You can save a substantial amount of money compared to buying new items, and you’ll also help the environment. Buying secondhand reduces carbon emissions from transporting goods, eliminates the use of raw materials like wood and plastic, and saves perfectly good items from the landfill.

Reduce Phantom Power

Did you know that electrical devices can still use power while plugged in, even when they’re turned off? Your cellphone charger, TV, hair dryer, laptop, toaster oven — anything you leave plugged in all the time — continue to waste energy when you’re not using them. This wasted energy is known as phantom power.

The least expensive way to reduce phantom power is to simply unplug the devices you’re not using before you go to sleep or leave your dorm. For more convenience, however, you can invest in a power strip with switches. Some of them even come with a timer or an auto-shutoff feature. You may also want to disable your computer’s screen saver: When it’s left on, it can use up to twice as much energy.

Use Green Cleaning Products

Along with studying and meeting new people, you’ll also (hopefully!) spend some time cleaning your dorm room. Make sure to pick up some eco-friendly cleaning products. Green Works, Mrs. Meyer’s, Method, and Ecos are just a few brands that use biodegradable ingredients and eco-friendly packaging. As a bonus, you won’t have to deal with the lovely smell of bleach each time you clean your room.

Choose Energy-Efficient Appliances

Are you planning to keep a minifridge in your room? If so, try to get a unit that is Energy Star-certified. Not sure if you need a microwave? You may find that hot plates do the trick.

Some dorms include a shared kitchen. In that situation, the stove is the biggest energy vampire. When possible, use smaller appliances for your cooking instead of the stove. Boil water in an electric kettle instead of in a regular kettle on a burner. Reheat pizza in a toaster oven. When you do use the stove, you can make the most of it by cooking several items at once.

Making a few small changes here and there can make your dorm room more eco-friendly. Try at least one of these tips, and see how simple it is to start living green.

The United States is a nation of animal lovers, with nearly 7 out of 10 local households owning a pet. You might want a furry, feathered, or scaly friend dearly, but are your college years the right time to become a pet owner? Consider the pros and cons carefully before jumping in.

Pro: Pets Are Good for Your Emotional Well-Being

Your college years can be a challenging time. Most students are away from their regular support systems and out of their comfort zone. Busy schedules and academic demands and expectations can take a toll on your mental health. During all this turbulence, a pet can be a valuable touchstone. Many pets, like dogs, cats, and birds, give back plenty of love. Studies show just looking into your dog’s eyes boosts your body’s levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin.

Even less-expressive pets like mice and fish can help you feel less alone. When you feel attached to an animal your breathing slows, your blood pressure reduces, and your anxiety level falls. These are all great benefits for stressed-out college students.



Con: Pets Can Be Expensive

Pets can put a serious dent in your college finances. Buying or adopting a pet costs money upfront, and then there are ongoing costs like food, vaccinations, and vet bills to consider. According to the ASPCA, most people spend more than $1000 in their first year of pet ownership. Some pets, like fish, are relatively inexpensive, but other pets, like purebred puppies, can cost much more. If you’re already living on a shoestring, a pet could really break your budget.

Pro: Pets Teach Responsibility

Your college years are usually a period of transition from dependent high school student to more independent, responsible young adult. Pets teach responsibility because you should factor their needs into your decision-making. You must feed and supply them with water regularly and give them the attention, exercise, toilet breaks, and vet visits they need. It can be hard, but it’ll make you a better adult.

Cons: Pets and Student Accommodation Often Don’t Mix

Pets can be a barrier to finding and maintaining suitable accommodations. Many campuses ban pets of any description from their dorms. Some only allow selected pets like fish, which may not be what you have in mind. Even if you’re living off campus, you might find landlords unwilling to rent to you and pet. Make sure you know the rules about pets because if you violate them, you and Fido could find yourselves on the street.

If you find accommodation, the hard work isn’t necessarily over. Some pets can be destructive, especially if they’re left alone for hours while you’re studying or socializing. Soiled carpets, chewed windowsills, and scratched doors are all your responsibility. Are you ready to take that on?

Only you will know whether you’re ready to have a pet in college. There are some tremendous benefits to pet ownership, but some serious drawbacks, too. Consider your lifestyle and the needs of your dream pet carefully before deciding whether to get one now or to wait until after graduation.