Major Stressing: Why Your Major Does Not Always Matter

October 13, 2020

Most of us are looking forward to the day we move out of our parents house and into our college dormitories or apartments. Most of us are looking forward to filling out the college applications and the many forms required to get in. Okay, maybe not the forms and college applications. Needless to say, those of us planning on going to college are looking forward to it. However, there are students who are dreading the day they have to pick their college major. To them it is one of the most important parts of their college career and future careers after, but that is not always the case. College majors are not the “be-all, end-all” of college or university. In fact, college majors are a small part of a big system that will lead students to where they need to be. 

Throughout college, college majors often undergo changes. A person may choose to major in business in the beginning but end up with a degree in women’s studies. A person is constantly undergoing changes and no one can predict where they will end up in the end. According to the New York Times Six Myths About Choosing a College Major, “About 30 percent of college students switch majors at least once.” Although thirty percent seems small, it is a relatively big group of college students who switch what they want to learn. Eventually, students will graduate with a degree that they are passionate about. At least, that is the idea. However, some students will graduate with a degree that they think will earn them a hefty paycheck instead of something they actually care about.

It is no surprise that STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) occupations are on the rise. It is a growing world and more and more STEM jobs are becoming available. Some of them promise a relatively large salary. This leads many students to choose a STEM major in hopes of making a lot of money, which is helpful for paying off the student loans. On the other hand, the New York Times Six Myths About Choosing a College Major stated, “The top quarter of earners who majored in English make more over their lifetimes than the bottom quarter of chemical engineers.” So much for a STEM major guaranteeing the pay off of debt, right? So, what is right? If a major will not guarantee a good salary, what will? Well, since a college major will not do it, how about networking?

It is often said that it is not what you know, it is who you know. Knowing certain people can get you certain places. Ashley Stahl, a career coach and writer for Forbes, expressed, “Without a solid network of contacts, you’re missing a huge piece of the puzzle. If no one knows who you are, no one will care how smart you are.” Although the internet makes it easy to find jobs and interviews, having a network of people may help that process go a little faster. Having a college major and degree, even in a growing field, does not mean anything if there’s no one behind you. Networking is an important aspect of many jobs. Knowing the right people could mean that you land the job that is right for you. Besides, skill shows more than what a perfect GPA or a good choice in a college major and minor could do.

College majors are just leeways into the skills that someone may need in the workforce and the real world. However, whether college majors actually provide that or not is still on the table. Although, it has already been decided that employers are looking for skill, not college majors. Time’s It Doesn’t Matter Where You Go to College said, “Employers are interested in what skills you bring and how these skills can be used in their business.” If that skill is acquired in a class that relates to a major, then that is fine. However, they are looking for if that skill can be used and be put to the test, not what major under which you acquired it. According to Forbes’s Six Reasons Why Your College Major Doesn’t Matter, “93% of employers believe that critical thinking, communication, and problem solving-skills are more important that a job candidate’s undergraduate field of study.” A vast majority of employers do not care about a college major; they care about the skills that can be used in their business. In addition to that 93 percent, 95 percent of employers are looking for people who can think outside the box. They are not looking for any specific majors. Since careers are not reliant on college majors, how is someone supposed to choose?

College majors should be chosen according to a person’s passion, not median pay. If you are doing a job that you are not interested in, it will be hard to move up in your career and be happy in general. A job should hardly ever feel like a job and feel more as a place you go to for most days of the week. It will not be enjoyable all day, every day. However, it should not be something that you dread. Majoring in a field that helps you feel purposeful and happy is more important than the amount of money or type of job you get. Stahl wrote, “If you major in a field you’re truly interested in, you will give it the effort, attention, and enthusiasm that translates into success.” It is better to find something that you love, even if it does not come with a hefty paycheck because it might evolve into something bigger in the future. The College Investor’s Your College Major Doesn’t Matter Unless… stated, “What you study and major in doesn’t matter initially…the value of your future happiness will be worth much more.” As long as there’s passion in what you do, your college major does not matter in the long run. 

There’s happiness in our passions. Some of us do not know what they are yet, and that is more than okay. What is more important than choosing a high paying major for a high paying job is happiness. If there is purpose in a major that statistically is not high paying, it is still worth doing. There’s so much more to life than a few words on a piece of paper. Remember, employers are looking for skill and appliance, not majors. You may not even know your major in the beginning and be undecided. That’s okay too. “Not all who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien.

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