If you’re reading this, you might have either caught yourself staring blankly at your college application lately, particularly at the box demanding you to write in your major declaration, or maybe you’ve been sitting in your dorm room wondering why on Earth you chose the major you did and what you’re planning on doing with that degree.
Well, I’m here to tell you to relax. Don’t get me wrong, your major is important to your degree and of course influences what classes you take. But that’s all the more reason to make sure it’s something you love and have an interest in, not just what you think will get you a good job, a lot of money, or fit some ideal of what “successful” means.
When you’re in college, there are so many interesting people and stimulations around you so constantly that you’re bound to think of a new idea or career option at least once a week. Your major today might be an idea of the past next week. So don’t worry so much about it. Your major does not define you and does not define your life path.
I’ve always loved kids, but I assumed once I started college that I needed to major in business if I wanted to be successful in life and actually make money. It’s true that teachers or social workers might not make as much as a CEO, but after sitting through a particularly mind-numbing business class last semester, I realized I’d be much happier long term if I focused on what I loved and not what would get me a good job and necessarily make me money. I immediately dropped that class, and picked up another child studies class, and I’ve never been so happy with my decision. I actually look forward to doing my homework! I can’t believe it either.
I worked at the Student Call Center at my university last semester, which requires cold-calling alumni to ask for donations to the school as well as finding out what they’ve been up to since graduation. When making these calls, the only information I had to work with was their name and the major they graduated with. I would get so excited to see someone who had graduated with my major and desperately hope they’d answer so I could ask them about their communications career. However, what was so crazy to me was that people’s post-graduation career paths did not always necessarily follow what would be expected based on their major. I spoke to communication majors who ended up in engineering fields, engineers who ended up teaching or being sports coaches, and everyone in between. Of course, many people do follow their career path based off their major, which is why you should not take away from this article that your major is completely unimportant.
Your life path is just simply unpredictable. Once you accept your first job out of college, your path may very well change again. The opportunities that arise and the people you meet will influence you every day and may convince you to try something new altogether. The point is to remember that your major will not dictate the rest of your life. Whatever you’re gravitating towards, take a class in that subject and see if you like it. Explore your interests. Try something new. Maybe that random acting class you take just for fun with your roommate inspires you to want to teach art, or work in a theater. You never know where life will take you, so don’t say no too quickly to anything. Take chances, and don’t stress too much about your choices. Find what you love, and follow it. You won’t go wrong. You can change your major, and you can change your life.
- Lauren Mahoney Santa Clara University '18. Lauren is a psychology and communications double major.