Does your major Matter?

“So what’s your plan?” People have asked me this (and similar questions) like 100 times over the past four or five years. And I get it, you need to be thinking about what your future is going to look like. But the idea that a seventeen-year-old would know what they want to do for 40 years after college is wild. I can’t even decide what sounds good for lunch most days. How can I pick a career that I’m supposed to love when I’m forty? I don’t think we should have to.

Photo of female student with book over her face sitting on the ground with a graphic over the top saying Does your major matter?

Now, if you’re one of those lucky people who has wanted to be a pediatrician since forever, that’s great! It’s amazing that something calls you so strongly. But for people like me who just picked a major based on what your favorite class in school was… Well, I’m here to say I think that’s fine. I’m going to change my major and there’s nothing wrong with that. I know they tell you there’s nothing wrong with that but for real, SO many people change their major. You’ll be fine, and you’ll still probably graduate on time, and you won’t be behind. 

That’s why it’s great that so many schools have undecided major tracks so students can try out different classes. My step-sister did that at Purdue and now knows exactly what she’s interested in doing for a career. Going in undecided is a lot like going in with a major and deciding it’s not for you. The only real difference is that instead of just hearing a lot about one major and deciding you aren’t interested, you get to know a little bit about a few different ones. 

Now here’s another question: does your major matter? According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2014, only 27% percent of college graduates were working in a job related to their major. For some people like me that might sound liberating. I can study things that interest me even if they might not lead me to a promising career. But for many others, that fact is upsetting and concerning. What’s the point of a college degree if you don’t end up in a job that I want?

Now that leads into a whole other conversation about the merits of college outside of getting a career-making three figures. I’ll probably make a post about that in the future. But for now, I’ll say this. College is it’s own thing with it’s own merits. It’s not just a bump in the road before getting to the “real world” with a career and a mortgage. Your major matters because you should be learning about something that will interest you for a long time. But it cannot be the only thing that interests you. 

So the question “what’s your plan?” is awkward and annoying to hear over and over again. Especially when it’s coming from your great aunt that you only see twice a year on holidays. But really do you have to have a plan on what your major is and how to land your dream career? Does your major matter? Well, what you study will probably affect what you end up doing for a career. But it only affects it in so far that you will know that you enjoy that type of work. It shows you whether you would like to work with clients or in an office or educating people. But how you do those things and in what subjects can and probably will change and that’s okay.

P.S. Now that you know that your major matters and how it matters, check out this post on how to choose what college to go to.