Career Corner: Don’t let lists and trends decide your major


Everyone has been there before: opened up an article on Yahoo or MSN listing the top 10 best and worst college majors. The problem with these lists is that they do not take into account an individual’s personality, values, skills, interests and overall fit within each field of study. Some majors do have tougher job markets than others, but that shouldn’t be the only factor to consider when choosing your major. Individuals have their own unique passions, skills, interests and goals. If everyone in the world choose their major based on online lists, the majority of students would most likely end up being doctors, lawyers or accountants.

It all begins with the question “What do I value in my career?” For some of us, financial gain is most important, but others are driven or inspired more by creativity or opportunities to make a difference in the community. When deciding on a major or prospective career path, it is essential to ask yourself, “What sacrifices am I willing to make for my career, before and after graduation?” An individual who is willing to sacrifice financial gain for a position that fosters creativity may be more receptive to accepting an entry-level position with an art gallery as a stepping stone for future opportunities.
When entering a career that you’re passionate about, it’s important to create a personal, strategic plan, which incorporates details on how you plan to market yourself effectively for desired positions. For example, if you decide to major in art despite its bleak job outlook, then you must be proactive in shadowing professionals, volunteering, interning, networking and exploring other opportunities that will strengthen your chances of obtaining your dream job.

Another factor to consider is your interest in the subject matter. Some majors, like philosophy and sociology, do not typically lead to a direct career path but help students see the world from a different perspective; plus, the course work increases students’ communication skills, which can be a great advantage for admittance into graduate programs.

Deciding on a major is not as easy as picking from a menu at a fast food restaurant, and students must never get discouraged just because they see their major on a not-so-top-10 list.
At the end of the day, no career journey is a straight shot to the finish line, as the road may have a few obstacles on the way — including negative feedback from articles. It is up to you to explore your interests and take ownership of your passion, while creating a strategic plan for how to reach such goals and make necessary sacrifices.