Why Your College Major Doesn't Matter


Why Your College Major Doesn't Matter

So you’re trying to pick a major. What a big decision! Definitely keep up the researching, planning, and stressing, because everyone knows the major you choose will set your course for success (or failure) in life.

Or, alternatively... you could just pick one and roll with it.

Yes, you read that right. While some careers (especially in STEM) do require a specific degree, most of us can actually get into the career we want without a degree that perfectly matches.

Trust me, choosing a major shouldn’t be a cause for tears. Here are 3 reasons why your college major is just one small piece of your education, and why it doesn’t really matter (that much).

Your Major Isn’t the Whole of Your Education

It’s a common misconception that your college experience—and specifically, the major you choose—will determine the kind of education you receive. Thank our culture of Ivy Leagues and standardized tests.

In reality, you are the determining factor of your quality education, for one reason: if you want the best education possible, you have to take full responsibility for your learning. Your college years should be a time dedicated to curiosity, not pre-test memorization that’s destined to be forgotten in a month. Learn as much as you can about a variety of topics, do extra homework or classes that interest you, try things you never thought you would, and ask as many questions as you can!

If you commit to learning beyond your formal education and truly apply yourself, any major you choose will be just fine. Habitual curiosity will take you places that a major never will.

Take, for example, one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, Albert Einstein. His great contributions to science changed the way we view physics today. Now Einstein did receive formal training in mathematics and physics, and he even earned a Ph.D. But his revolutionary accomplishments were due to his personal commitment to discovery, not his major.

At the end of his influential life, Einstein reflected, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence.”

Stay curious! Opt out of a passive approach and take the reins of your own education.

Your Major Isn’t the Only Decision that Matters

What if I told you that your college major doesn’t matter any more than your summer plans or how you spend your Sunday afternoons?

It’s true. Life trajectories aren’t contingent on one big decision. We make decisions every day that can either bring us closer to our goals or stunt our growth. Every time you decide to spend five hours binging The Office, you are also making the decision not to invest those hours in your future (unless you’re planning on going into the paper business).

The things you do on a daily basis—your routines, habits, and hobbies—are just as important as the seemingly bigger life decisions like your major.

Even if your goal is to be a stellar paper salesman, be honest with yourself. You’d be better off reading Forbes, shadowing an experienced salesman, and practicing your pranking skills on your unsuspecting friends than trying to passively glean knowledge from any sitcom character.

Make daily decisions that will bring you closer to your goals, and you’ll find success, no matter what major you choose.

Your Major Doesn’t Confine You to a Specific Career Path

One of the reasons many students stress about their choice of major is due to the mistaken belief that their major will determine their career. While your degree may come with an obvious career path, you don’t have to follow it.

Your future career and success are not at the mercy of the degree you choose. You can be an entrepreneur with a liberal arts degree, a photographer with a B.A. in Sociology, or a life coach with a B.S. in Biology. You aren’t going to ruin your life by making the “wrong” choice.

It’s okay to forge your own way through the woods. If you go off the well-trodden path, oh well! You may just take the long way around to an occupation you never knew you were passionate about. The valuable lessons you learn from an unconventional journey like that may even equip you for more adventures in your future, all unbeknownst to you now.

I’ve experienced this personally. I chose the “wrong” bachelor’s degree. I majored in psychology, because it was interesting to me and, at the time, I knew was I wanted to work with people somehow. Along the way, I realized that I wanted to be a social worker, which requires a master’s degree in Social Work. Had I chosen to major in social work for my undergrad, I could’ve shaved two years off of grad school.

Did I make the “wrong choice”? I don’t think so. If I hadn’t earned my B.S. in psychology, I wouldn’t currently have background knowledge of psychology supporting my current studies. I wouldn’t have gotten an internship in which I was able to explore the intricacies of the human brain. And I never would have crossed paths with the brilliant individuals I get to sit in class with every week. Because, had I earned my bachelor’s degree in social work, I would be in a completely different graduate program.

Friend, stop stressing about what college major you choose. Put down the pros and cons list and stop Googling every major, emphasis, minor, and elective you find. Take a deep breath before you spiral into a vortex of unnecessary worry.

Instead, stay engaged, make a decision, and enjoy the journey… you never know where life is going to take you or what you’ll learn along the way!

What you major in may not change the course of your life, but how you do college might. Don’t settle for “just college.” Use these years to try new experiences and work toward your life goals alongside a thriving community of dedicated students just like you. Learn how Accelerated Pathways will help you say “no” to debt and make the world your campus.

Alyssa is a former Accelerated Pathways student and Liberty University graduate. She is an aspiring social worker who loves encouraging people to live up to their potential.