Does Your Major Really Matter? What to Consider When Choosing a Major
By Heidi Scheck, Analytics Executive
There are two types of people when it comes to the conversations about majors: the “I have wanted to be a doctor since I was 10 and have been preparing for my medical school career since then” and the “I have no clue what my major will be and I will figure it out before I’m forced to declare.” Likewise, the responses to those two statements are differentiating as well. On one hand, students are told that choosing a major is very important and it will dictate their career. With the opposing viewpoint, some state that a major does not matter as much as it is said to, and you will find a job regardless from just earning a degree.
So, the dilemma for most students is: Where is the truth between both of those statements? Well, they both are true. It is all subjective to the student and their personal goals. There are many job fields that require a specific major that is non-negotiable, such as, finance, computer science and engineering. Those fields are notoriously difficult and require specific qualifications to earn each degree. With that being said, if there is any possibility you may want to enter one of these fields, you need to be sure to declare your major and start completing those requirements.
Additionally, there is the grey area of knowing you are not going to select a career within one of the specific major fields. Once you have eliminated that possibility, it is time to look into the huge realm of majors that all intertwine and overlap (and spoiler alert: they do not really matter). We all have a family member, friend or co-worker whose career has nothing to do with their major. For example, my father is a Vice President creative director with a history major. Similarly, I have a friend who works in marketing for Google and their major was political science. If you do feel as if you chose the “wrong” major, there are additional programs you can get involved with. Many pursue graduate programs and masters degrees to specialize in a specific area of interest. Alyssa Conlee goes into more detail on this in her article, “Why Your College Major Doesn’t Matter.” She expresses in her article that she chose the “wrong path” in terms of her bachelors degree in psychology; she knew she enjoyed the classes at the time and wanted to work with people. She ended up going back to school to get her masters degree to work as a social worker. This is a perfect example of forging your own career path, and maybe hitting some bumps along the way.
Overall, employers focus on more than your major. They seek to focus on your experience, skills and qualities. They want to see how you stand out among other candidates. In a Forbes article, “Six Reasons Why Your College Major Doesn't Matter” details are provided on what they call “soft skills, not major topics.”
Soft skills include: being teachable, learning and adapting quickly, possessing critical thinking skills, and having notable experience that applies to the job. This is in opposition to having a preferred degree, but no experience in the field.
The bottom line is, the job market has always been hyper-dependent on connections. The best and most popular advice given is to work on networking and utilizing every connection you may have. These connections are what get you through the doors of companies that are either out of your scope of study, or that in hindsight, you may be underqualified for.