A couple of months ago I shared the following thought on jobs and college majors:
For our kids heading off to college, what if we quit putting so much emphasis on their major?
Having a successful life isn’t major-dependent/specific, and how many adults do any of us know who knew exactly what they wanted to be at 17, 18, 19? (A helpful reality check was from my mom when I was in my twenties and struggling as I thought I needed to have my whole life mapped out but didn’t, so I thought I’d missed/failed some life test: she told me she still didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up. Thanks, Mom. <3)
Oh boy, this sparked some thoughts from a teen. Take a read and see where you land.
I Hate My Major…But It’ll Lead Me to Success
With college quickly approaching and coming into a very near reality, I’ve talked quite a bit with teenagers my age either going to the same college as I am or going to other colleges across the country and even world. The conversations begin usually all the same: “Where are you from? Where are you going to school? What are you majoring in?” This usually results in a conversation about what they are looking to do with their major and what got them interested in it in the first place.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many people I’ve talked to who have either put down their own major or expressed uncertainty as to whether this major is right for them.
This fall I will be majoring in psychology, and I’ve grown accustomed to defending my major before anyone even criticizes it. I’ll ramble out: “I’m studying psychology because it’s general enough that I can figure out what I want to do without likely switching majors over my four years.” “Oh, and it’s a subject I enjoy and am interested in,” added in as almost an afterthought. To me, this is what enjoying learning has become nowadays: an afterthought.
It feels like so much emphasis is placed on finding a major you can “do something in your life with,” because everything is about finding the supposed path to success and riches. Many friends have expressed love for photography or music, yet have decided on majors with no relation to those because they’re terrified of the uncertainty in majoring in an art. Just yesterday, I spoke with a guy who told me he was majoring in computer engineering and then followed up immediately with telling me how much of a pain it’s going to be for him. I told him that yes, there may be challenges and it won’t always be easy, but he will enjoy what he’s doing if it’s truly the right major for him. (And I wondered — maybe computer engineering isn’t it for him…)
Personally, I searched up some of the classes I’ll be taking, and I’m incredibly excited about the ones related to my major. When you’re interested in a subject, it’s far easier to stay engaged and want to learn more than when you force yourself into what you feel may lead you to “success” despite what you enjoy otherwise.
From what I’ve seen, it seems like the majority of kids who choose majors they don’t like do this for their parents. A fellow student in my English class shared that he is majoring in some sort of engineering, and then with full honesty, he told us that he has no clue whatsoever as to what his major even is and that he only chose it to appease his parents’ wishes.
The real world is not some fairy tale — I’m aware of that. But picking a major because you actually have an interest in it? Maybe that doesn’t have to be a fantasy. Once you take a step down a path you actually have interest in, maybe, just maybe, opportunities will open up to you and pieces will fall into place so that you can figure out how to incorporate this interest into a career that will give you the life you want.
Mark Twain was onto something: “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This begins with the direction of our education.