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Have You Selected the Right Major?

Kizzy shares how to balance your passion with practicality.

Kizzy Preston

February 14, 2012

Have You Selected the Right Major?
When you first start college, you are gung ho about following your passions. How fun will it be to get to study a subject you love in-depth, have great classroom debates about ancient philosophers, works of art and literature, or to analyze Sigmund Freud’s theories? Hindsight is often said to be 20/20. Some college students graduate excited to enter the workforce with their degree in hand, only to realize they are virtually unemployable. A lot of students also graduate in debt from student loans. Could those funds have been better invested? Are you majoring in the right subject?

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Lately I have come across a lot of articles with headlines like, "The 20 Most Useless Degrees" which list Journalism, Agriculture, Fashion Design, and Chemistry as some of the most useless college majors. “What the 1% Majored In” is an article which gives a list of what the richest people in this country have majored in. Programs such as Health and Pre-Med, Economics, Political Science and Government, Art History and Criticism top the list. Oddly, Chemistry and Art History appear on both the most “useless” and the “what the top earners in the country have majored in” lists. So which is it, useful or useless?

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Can you force yourself to major in some type of science or engineering degree program if you don't have a natural gift for science or math? Should you go into nursing if you can't stand the sight of blood, or sick and suffering people because you know you will be guaranteed a job? Do these lists even matter? Should students with a certain dream or goal choose a more "stable" major based on these lists?

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If you choose to go the route of picking a “safe” major rather than one that is your true passion, here are some tips to perhaps find a happy medium. -- Get a Minor. Major in the “safe” major and minor in the subject you love. Completing a minor is a great way to learn about a subject without it being your main focus. You will be required to take approximately 15-18 credits in the minor subject. Perhaps this is a good way to still learn about a subject you love without being completely “risky”. -- Double major. Are you good at both Science and Fashion Design? Almost all schools give students the option of completing a double major. You would have to complete the requirements for both programs and receive two bachelor’s degrees. It may be a lot more work, and take a little longer, but perhaps this is the route to go. -- Internships. Internships are a great way to gain experience in the subject you are studying. Experience helps to make any degree program less “useless” after graduation. Employers want to see that you have real world experience, and an internship is the way to show them that you do. Whether a “useless” degree is just a matter of opinion or it is based in fact, in the end what matters most is what each student brings to their field and what skills they can offer to a future employer.

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