One of the biggest milestones in going to college is finally picking your major. Some students have prepared most of their lives for their specific career long before enrolling, while others are unsure what they’ll major in while they are already at college. It’s best to make an informed decision, so we are going to look at five of the most common misconceptions people have about choosing their college major.
What are 5 misconceptions people have about choosing their major?
A STEM major is always a ‘sure’ way to big bucks
We’re not saying that computer science and engineering won’t lead to high-paying jobs, but it’s also a bit of an overgeneralization since not all STEM majors will lead to a good job.
“Students and parents have a pretty good idea of what majors pay the most, but they have a poor sense of the magnitude of the differences within the major,” said Douglas A. Webber, an associate professor of economics at Temple University. According to him, the top quarter of earners of English majors make more over the lifetimes than the lowest quarter of chemical engineer majors.
Another slight issue STEM majors could have is that its reputation of a sure thing could lead to more and more people enrolling, which will eventually lead to increased competition. I’ll make it simple for you: there’s no such thing as a “sure thing.”
Your major holds more weight than your actual college
The old adage comes to mind: would you rather be a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond? This isn’t some riddle for the ages. The answer is being a big fish in a small pond! The answer always is being a big fish in a small pond! The only time they ever get put in their place is by a big fish from a big pond, never by those stupid small fish in their big ponds.
Students in the states of Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington have access to databases for early earnings of graduates of institutions within the state. From what they’ve gathered, coming from a selective school helped graduates’ income more than what major they choose from.
Students at elite schools can survive studying and majoring in arts, humanities or social science majors because they have to power to network to save themselves from what people label “useless degrees.” Arguably, since the people who choose these majors were already in elite schools, they had been planning to make a career path out of it in the first place, rather than go with an “easy” degree, In other words, nothing is “useless” if you know how to work it. In fact, this might be so important that I’m going to say it twice.
The Liberal Arts leads to ‘Useless Degrees’
See what I did there? I’m just going to come out and say it. There are plenty of jobs out there that are just interested in hiring students with a degree or any degree.
While there might not be a lot of demand for jobs that directly require expertise in art history or puppet arts, these degrees still require skills like writing or analysis that might be in demand for jobs that are otherwise available.
A 2017 study by David J. Deming, an associate professor of education and economics at Harvard, revealed that jobs demanding these skills and more, such as critical thinking, have seen both the largest growth in employment and pay over the past three decades.
We’re not saying a pottery major can get into med school guaranteed, we’re just saying they have other options than applying for part-time jobs, especially since graduates are usually written off as overeducated for various part-time jobs anyway.
You need to choose a major as early as possible!
College students are stereotyped as being quite the procrastinators, starting their 15-page term papers the night before they hand it in. That said, rushing into things can still be the opposite extreme, not the better alternative.
According to a national survey by the University of California, Los Angeles, 20% of students who thought they already decided on their major when they first enrolled ended up switching. In fact, if you end up switching your major part-way through, you could have ended up wasting a few semesters taking courses you wouldn’t need to actually graduate.
Your first year can also be used studying your prerequisites, as well as taking the time to focus on the major that could impact the rest of your life.
You need a major at all (sort of…)!
Okay, this one surprised even me! A few universities, such as Indiana University and Evergreen State College, allow students to develop their own major instead of selecting what is directly offered at the school.
“Majors are artificial and restrictive,” said Christine Ortiz, a dean at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose developing a nonprofit university without majors (or classrooms or lectures for that matter), adding, “Majors result from the academic structure of the university, tied to the classic academic disciplines. There is no reason they need to be boxed up like that. They don’t take into account emerging fields that cross disciplines,” according to The New York Times.