Why Your Major Doesn't MatterWednesday, April 16, 2014
It's a profoundly simple, yet difficult, truth that college is about college. Not about a job.
College is suddenly about studying the "right" major. College is about a degree. A career. Studying things that would be applicable to getting a job that would make money.
I believe that this mindset comes from a distorted view of education in our heavily individualistic, consumerist culture. How little can I do and still get the best end result? What will give me the most in the long run? While it is definitely a good idea to be futuristically minded and to start making steps for life after college, I fear that this perspective can easily cause young people to lose sight of the true benefit of attending college.
As an undergraduate at Wheaton, a well respected Christian liberal arts schools, I have a few thoughts on college from my own personal observations and inquiries into the culture behind education.
Your major doesn't matter.
I'm sorry to break it to you, but what you major in really won't impact your job pursuits later in life as much as we are often taught. (This varies, of course, if you are pursuing a masters in specific fields such as physics or biochemistry.) But in general, the classes you study are there to challenge you as an individual. To make you a more interesting person. Not to get you a job.
Only 27% of graduates have a job related to their major. (The Washington Post)
David Muir, an anchor and correspondent for ABC World News, says about those he works with in the industry, "We all majored in what we were interested in. The curiosity and the willingness to adapt are more important than what the degree is in." (The New York Times)
So study what intrigues you, what excites you, what motivates and challenges you. I came into Wheaton as an English major. Now, I am pursuing an interdisciplinary studies degree, combining Anthropology (the study of culture) with literature. I will be specifically studying the way that popular and classical literature has an influence on cultural values and ideals.
Anthropology is difficult in that it forces me to think differently about life and to expand my worldview. So challenge yourself to be challenged.
College is not about a job.
College may help you get the kind of job that you want. But if your sole purpose in attending school is to get a single piece of paper and check it off your list, then you're missing out on the greater picture!
College is about discovering yourself.
I think it's pretty safe to say that I've learned just as much (if not more) outside of the classroom. At first, I thought that college was just about expanding my knowledge and growing deeper in my academic pursuits. But it is so much more. College is a unique opportunity to live in community with peers, to live life together.
Everything from relationships, drama, emotional stress, time management, late night conversations and social events have shaped the way I view college and the way I fit into the mosaic of Wheaton life. These four years truly are an opportunity to discover who you are and what you care about. Being away from home changes the dynamic in that now you really do have the freedom to make your own decisions. What path will you choose? The decisions you make are all part of shaping the kind of man or woman you will come to be.
So experience life. :)
Meet and get to know faculty. Learn from their sagacity and expertise in the field. Network with them — they may have connections that can help you.
Make friends from diverse backgrounds to expand your cultural awareness and breadth of understanding.
Study what you like. Don't stress over your major because it's far from the most important aspect of college.
Travel abroad if you have the opportunity. Traveling can be transformative in helping you get a sense of the global community and your place in it.
Use your time wisely, but take the time to live and experience.
College is about college. Don't wish it away, hoping to get to the next step.