Why Your Major Doesn’t Matter as Much as You Think

Choosing a major is one of the most stressful landmarks in most students’ college careers; it determines how they’re going to spend the rest of their academic life, and defines their future career choices for years to come—so they think. In reality, your major isn’t nearly as life-changing as many believe; compared to other choices you make, both in college and beyond, the subject you chose to study as an undergrad hardly makes a dent. Need proof?

1. Sure, your major indicates that you have some specific expertise in one area, but most of what you need to know for real-world work you’re going to learn on-the-job; what employers really look for is whether their candidates have the skills they need to do just that.
2. Some of the best classes you take won’t be for your major: You learn the most when you challenge yourself, so it makes sense that some of the most insightful classes you take as an undergrad won’t be with your department advisor; they’ll be in general ed or special topics classes that have nothing to do with your area of study. These are the classes and teachers you’ll really remember in years to come.
3. You change: You might have your heart set on becoming a political journalist when you sign up for your major sophomore year, but by the time you graduate, you might be looking for elementary school teaching jobs. There’s no way you can predict how you’ll change over your four years in undergrad—so imagine how much you’re going to change after you graduate. Talk to your school’s alumni, and you’ll be amazed at how many chose careers entirely different from their majors. Be open to change, enjoy your area of study, but don’t limit yourself to whatever you think that major allows.
4. College is about skills, not job training: As stated in Reason 1, much of what you need in the workforce you’re going to learn on-the-job. Unless you’re at a technical college, you’re at school to develop the communication and logic skills you really need to excel. Even your senior thesis project is applicable anywhere—it’s not actually about showing how much you’ve learned in your department, but about applying all the skills you’ve learned in a comprehensive, portfolio-boosting way. These skills are applicable anywhere, and you’ll develop them regardless of the major you choose.

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