Extracurriculars, SATs and college visits are stressful enough—and now you’re expected to choose a major? Deciding what you want to do in college is a big step. Although it isn’t everything, you’ll be taking the majority of your classes in the subject, so you’ll want to make sure you choose something you’ll enjoy. Have you been wondering how much your major really matters or hearing things you aren’t sure are true? We’ve talked to Michelle Podbelsek, a college counselor, and collegiettes firsthand to bust all the myths about majoring in college. Read on and relax.
1. You have to go into the field you major in
Many people don’t end up working in the field they major in. If you aren’t sure you want to make a career out of your major, that’s okay! And if you know you want to go into a certain field you aren’t majoring in, that’s perfectly okay too!
“If you want to go to medical school, you can have any major—you just need to complete certain courses in undergrad so you are ready to apply,” Podbelsek says. “For law school, you can have any major—it will depend on your GPA and LSAT scores, etc. to be admitted to law school after your bachelor’s degree. Many students may study something more broad—like psychology, economics, English—they will learn analytical thinking and writing skills that can later apply to many different fields.”
If you know you want to work in a specific field like computer science or nursing, you’ll have to be in certain programs to do so. But for a field like journalism, that isn’t the case!
“You don't have to major in journalism to be a journalist!” says Chelsea Schroeder, a freshman at Bowling Green State University. Journalism is most valuable when people from various academic backgrounds are contributing to it, so a variety of majors is actually beneficial!
2. There are “easy” majors
A lot of the time, people think that certain majors are “easier” than others. Every major has a different approach to learning, but that doesn’t make any major invalid or less important.
Helmi Henkin, a sophomore at the University of Alabama, has experienced this stereotype as student pursuing a dual degree in psychology and French. “Most, if not all, of my STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) major friends think that my majors are ‘easy’ and ‘not real majors,’” she says. “Despite the negative stigma surrounding the study of humanities, I don't feel like I have to defend my majors to anyone. I truly believe college is about finding yourself and studying what you love is an essential part of that.”
Helmi is so right! If you’re happy with what you’re majoring in, no one should be able to put that down. Majoring in psychology or journalism isn’t any less difficult than majoring in engineering—it’s just different.
3. It’s not a good idea to switch majors multiple times
Many people go into college without knowing what they want to do in the future, and that’s totally okay! If you try something out and it doesn’t end up being for you, it isn’t the end of the world. There’s nothing wrong with switching majors (even a few times!).
“Many students will switch majors several times,” Podbelsek says. 50-70 percent of students change their major at least once, and the majority of people switch at least three times before they graduate!
"I came into college as a finance and economics double major, but I didn't end up liking it at all," says Allison Zeppuhar, a junior at James Madison University. "Now I'm majoring in computer information systems, and I'm truly enjoying what I'm learning! Changing majors didn't hold me back at all, it only opened doors for more opportunities." As long as you know what courses are required for the major you choose and plan your schedule accordingly, you’re in the clear!
4. Your major will be important to future employers
Oftentimes, employers don’t even look at what you majored in! People will talk down about certain majors like English, saying that it’s impossible to get a job with an English degree. We suggest telling these people to mind their own business!
“People may have a major in one field, and a minor or job or internship experience in another area,” Podbelsek says. “That would also be considered by employers.” Experience is often more valuable than what you major in!
Sydney Brodie, a recent English graduate from the University of Florida, shares her experience with us. “I managed to get a job at a PR firm after graduation, so I think I’m proof that majors don’t always matter and you can in fact get a good job with an English degree,” she says. “For example, in the PR world, going out to do internships and working in the real world is much more valuable than having a PR major. Of course, this probably isn’t true for every industry (like maybe accounting or finance), but in more creative fields (PR, marketing, journalism) employers don’t often discriminate with majors.”
Don’t let people put you down if you aren’t a business or science major! Your major should be a reflection of what you like to do—you’ll get your foot in the door with hard work and relevant experience.
Alana Claro, a junior at Cásper Líbero University, had a similar experience. “In my classroom, with both my colleagues and teachers, it seems as if you are majoring in journalism, the newsroom is the only place you can and must work,” she says. “But, while talking to my co-workers at a PR agency, they usually say that while your major may help you with some abilities, insights and even academic background, it is mostly your choice and how you use every little thing you learn. The office manager even told me that when they are hiring someone, what the person majored in is the least of their concerns.”
Many majors have overlapping classes or relevant experience that can help you in various fields. Don’t choose your major based on what you think future employers will be looking for!
Now that we’ve busted the most common myths about majoring in college, you should feel less stressed and ready to take on your collegiette career. If you end up not liking your major, you can always switch it! If you have no idea what you want to do, go in undecided and see what catches your attention. As we said, majors aren’t everything, and your hard work is what will help you succeed in the end!