Choosing a college major is one of those decisions that will stick with you for the rest of your life and after-life as well.  

This question often brings many options to imagine and fantasize about how your life would look like in the future - The truth is that nobody really knows!  

Would you choose the major that maximizes your future income?  

Do you even know what would that be? Or would you choose what you are good at? Or what makes you happy!  

It is really a complicated decision once you start thinking about what it takes to live a happy life ever after, all factors taken into consideration. 

IKIGAI is about aligning your inner self with the outer world; therefore, helping you dig deeper to find a truer answer and choose the major for your life purpose. 


 Picture 1 

How to Choose Your College Major According to IKIGAI

IKIGAI is a popular Japanese concept that loosely translates into “the reason for being” or “a thing you live for” - basically, the things you wake up for in the morning.  

The concept of IKIGAI sheds light on 4 main questions you ought to ask yourself when trying to look for happiness while making a life-changing decision. 

  1. What do you love?
  2. What are you good at?
  3. What does the world need?
  4. What can you get paid for?

As a high school student looking to go into college and start your path to a life-long career, it is important to find answers to these questions to be able to choose a college major or study area that will make you happiest.  

IKIGAI shows that to live a happy life, your future college major should be based on some balance between what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid well for.  


Only when you find balance between the answers you gave to each question, your choice for a college major would aim towards a more fulfilling and balanced life in the future. 


Each of the four aspects depicted in the diagram above represents an open-ended question.  

Finding your IKIGAI requires that all four circles intersect, or in other words, you find reasonable “overlapping” answers to all four questions.  

The first two questions are internal and have to do with you and your passions in life; hence, easier to find answers to, while the other two questions are external and relate to the world around you. 

Let us look at each of the 4 questions and explore what type of answers we can get. 


What Do You Love?

It’s important for you to identify what you love and what your passions are. Those are the things that bring you happiness when you do them. We are not talking about school subjects here. Rather, they could be your hobbies or the things you enjoy doing. Your passions usually start shaping up at an early age but they become clearer to you as you progress to your teen years.

For example, do you love or enjoy arts or music? Or are you more of a social animal who loves being around people? Is there a specific sport you love watching? Are you into cars, fashion, technology, literature? Try to identify the things you do in order to feel happy!


What Are You Good At?

What is your edge? Is it writing? Debating? Are you able to fix things easily? Are you good at puzzles? Math? Physics? Those are your skills, abilities, talents, or academic subjects that you are naturally good at.  

it is not always necessary to love what you are good at; if you do, that would be a plus. You might be good at debating and not have the desire to debate. Similarly, you might be good at accounting, and just not like it! 

For the same reason, there has always been a direct relation between what we love and what we are good at.  

If you have been good with computers, for example, and you have a passion for solving software or hardware issues, a major in computer engineering or computer science might be good for you. These majors will guarantee that you spend the rest of your career working with computers. 

Do not be discouraged yet about the things you are not good at but love.  

There is a great chance that you can train yourself and develop those skills if you are passionate about it. However, natural talents and abilities are far more powerful than acquired ones because they are more innate to your nature. 

In summary, the first two questions can go together, but it is not necessary. If there is something you are good at; you love doing that thing. But if you love something, it is not necessary that you are good at it. You still can teach yourself things that you love but not very well at. However, the things that you are naturally good at are more valuable to align your future career with. 

If you are not sure about how to identify such aspects of your life or if you do know what you are good at but unsure about the major to choose; feel free to book your free consultation now. 


What Does the World Need?

This question and the next one relate to the external world around you, as opposed to the first 2 questions which relate to yourself, your passions, and talents.

Knowing what the world needs might not be as easy as answering what you love or what you are good at especially for sixteen or seventeen years old who might not be fully familiar with what the world needs.

To answer this question, you might need to do some research or consult an educational or a career counselor. You can schedule a consultation with one of Studygram's counselors to guide you in this process.

Try to identify what makes the world as it is now a better place. There are endless opportunities out there for improving the world. From technology to medicine, to food security and poverty reduction, or environmental conservation. Check our blog post Top college majors to consider in the post COVID-19 world to get some inspiration.

See if your passion can be used and developed into a career that helps give back to society. Don’t hesitate to ask professionals in fields that are closely related to your passion; you will be amazed at how useful insights collected from people around you, are to you.


What Can You Get Paid For?

The last question in the IKIGAI quadrant is as important as the first 3 questions. You clearly need to be able to get paid!

This question can be rephrased into the following: How can you do what you love and have a talent for at the same time it is good for the world and people value and are willing to pay for? In other words, you need to identify what people value that brings goodness to society, which you are good at and love.

For example, if you love arts and you are good at drawing, painting, or even math or geometry, you might want to consider majoring in sustainable or green architecture and design buildings and cities that are good towards nature and beautiful at the same time. Both people and nature would love it!

If you like to fix things and you have a talent for mathematics, engineering might be good for you. What field of engineering is good for you would depend on answering the four questions fully over and over again in different ways. If your passion lies within languages and writing, a major in journalism or communications may give you a great career.

IKIGAI is about aligning your inner self with world!

Take some time alone to contemplate the four IKIGAI questions. Write on a piece of paper any ideas or keywords that would fall within each of the four diagram circles. Write close and far variations of these keywords, and reflect on how they are connected and you can combine them in different ways. Leave this paper on your desk and take a walk. Go meet your friends, or your mentors, and do your things. Then, come back to this piece of paper and revise, re-write it, change it if you wish, and start over again. 

Remember that this process is not linear; which means you will need to go back-and-forth over your options more than once. Identify your strong points and try to develop them as you progress in life.

Answering two or three questions is good but finding the answers to all four questions should be your goal. Choosing the right college major would make all the difference in finding your IKIGAI as it may mean a long, meaningful, and happy career life.


This quiz helps you find out which area of studying suits you best according to the Japanese philosophy Ikigai

Take Quiz


Studygram.me - Your Gateway to Worldwide Education