Choosing A Major: Why Expectations Aren’t Everything

When you meet someone new in college, one of the first questions you’ll ask or be asked is, What is your major?” It’s a good getting-to-know-you question because it gives us an insight into the other person’s personality, interests, talents and future goals, among other things. It also helps us find common ground (“Oh, you’re a psych major? I’m minoring in psych! What are you taking this semester?” or “Cool, my roommate’s an art major too, do you know him?”) and mentally categorize for further recall.

More and more, however, I’m finding that undergraduate majors have become a new status symbol. I see so many students who take pride in their pre-professional or engineering tracks and not enough who consider their liberal arts majors in a positive light. In fact, we tend to compare our chosen majors to the majors of our peers, in the same (often immature) way that high school students tend to compare the number of AP credits they are taking.

I am proud to be majoring in advertising and public relations — in fact, I will shout it from the mountaintops (if I can find any in Florida)! But I am sad to see that so many students are not quite so comfortable in their chosen career paths because they are worried about what others may think. They believe that because their majors aren’t traditionally “difficult” majors like Molecular & Microbiology or Mechanical Engineering, they might be looked down on, or seen as the lesser achiever of the group.

In all actuality, no major is worth less than any other if it is what you want to do with your life. Although I highly doubt I could survive an Organic Chemistry or Differential Equations class, there are plenty of students in those classes who could not achieve as well in my writing classes or event-planning endeavors. What makes us unique is that we have so many opportunities to cultivate our passions and talents, and that no one path is right for everyone.

In other words, don’t downplay yourself. When someone asks you what you’re majoring in, stand tall and tell them you’re an Animation major, an Event Industry major, a Theatre major or a Computer Engineering major. Conversely, when someone tells you what they are studying, don’t pre-judge it as the easy major or the difficult major. Remind yourself that each of us has his or her strengths and weaknesses; it is what you do with those that makes all the difference. 🙂

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4 comments

  1. Great post, Val! I agree, majors are basically a status symbol at this stage in life – and I think it just translates to careers being a status symbol later in life. I don’t think it’s right, but it’s definitely something to think about…

    1. I didn’t even think about that, but you’re right… it’s like an early stage of that! I think people should be praised for doing what they are good at and what makes them happy, and it’s sad that it isn’t always the case. Thank you for your comment!

  2. Nice post! I think that I’m kind of the opposite though… I’m a proud underachiever… I’m usually like: “Oh, you have Orgo, Bio, Calc 3, AND Physiology? Oh… I’m sorry, I’ll be sleeping this weekend..” I’m very mean like that…

    Seriously though, it is unfortunate that everything is about status and careers and who will make more money when really it should be about how happy your job will make you..

    1. Thank you Kalehli! 🙂 It is so good to have a sense of humor about stuff like that… especially when people are all, “Oh, you only had to take Finite Math? Tsk tsk…” I think it’s most important to do what you love, regardless of expectations!

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