What’s In A Major?

My brother and I have different perspectives on the utility of a political science degree. We both majored in it, but we came at it from different angles. I decided to try it because I was good with foreign languages and it seemed logical to me that if I paired that interest with political science, it could be a winning combination for me. My brother was a little different, however. I forget what his first major was, but it wasn’t working out so well for him. So, after a LOT of enthusiasm and encouragement from me, he switched majors. I could not have been more proud.

He hated it. It took him about a month to come to the conclusion that political science was a whiff major, and that he could easily snow his way through all of his classes just by spewing smart-sounding academic jargon. I believe one of his required classes was philosophy (no idea why, but it was related). He related to me the aftermath of one of his conversations during office hours.

Professor: *high-minded theoretical philosophy concepts*
My brother: Sounds like a lot of bs to me, sir.

Years into the future, nothing has changed. When I talk about my degree, I rave about how much I loved it and how far it’s gotten me. When he talks about his degree, he drags it through the mud, and then jumps on it till he’s sure it’s dead. He tells me to my face my degree is stupid, that a monkey could earn it. And I tell him right back that majoring in political science is one of the best decisions I ever made.

So which perspective is right?

It’s true that some degrees are inherently more difficult than others. But when you have one that could go either way…what makes it a good choice for some, but a waste of time for others?

I would argue that, at least in my brother and my case, the degree was what we made it. I put in long hours studying and debating political theories with my friends before knocking exams out of the park. He put in long hours talking about the uselessness of his classes. It wasn’t right for him, and it was obvious. He’s now working on an MBA, and he’s happy as a clam.

So take care what you major in in college. If you don’t respect your major–even if it’s easy and the lack of homework appeals to you–consider getting out. Find your passion. In so doing, you’ll set yourself up for long-term success.

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