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For Love or Money: How to Choose a College Major

January 7th, 2008 admin


A lot of people thought it was a bad move when I declared a Literature/Writing major. Really. Only my parents understood it-it seemed like everybody else responded with a quip about how I “probably wanted to wait tables or serve hamburgers for a living!” No, I didn’t!

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if it was a bright idea, either. I considered studying something that would (supposedly) make me more money when I graduated, but either out of intuition or pure dumb luck, I stuck with my passion and pursued writing.

Committing for Money

A lot of students choose their major from a monetary standpoint-they want to do whatever will make them a millionaire the fastest. The problem with that is that a lot of kids end up hating what they study-and later, what they do every day, all day to make a living. That’s the kind of issue that drives a lot of people to go back to school or make big career changes when they hit their 40’s and 50’s.

Committing for Love

So, now that I’ve graduated, I can tell you that my English major actually helped me get a job. Better yet, it helped me get a job I actually LIKE!

I definitely recommend choosing a major in something that you love, rather than in something that you THINK will make you money. Here’s why:

  1. You’ll do better work, because you’ll enjoy what you’re studying. And better work means better grades. And better grades can mean scholarships in the short term, and a better job in the long term.
  2. You’ll make connections in the field you love because you’ll be working with professors who teach what you want to DO. A big part of finding a great job after college is networking during college!
  3. You’ll be attractive to the employers you want to work for because you’ll have an expertise AND a passion for your future job. Good grades are a great start, but if you can go into an interview with enthusiasm, you’re way more likely to get the job.
  4. You’ll be more likely to be happy with your job 10, 20, or 30 years down the road. Like I said, a lot of people tire of the jobs they’ve chosen because they never liked doing it in the first place. Life is too short to spend 8 hours of every day doing something that bores you to tears.
  5. You’ll be more likely to advance if you are good at something than if you aren’t. That seems like common sense, but a lot of students still choose a major in a field they just AREN’T NATURALLY GOOD AT because they’re hoping for a bigger paycheck. Guess what? It’s pretty hard to advance to higher paying jobs if you aren’t even good at the lower paying ones!

The bottom line is, you have to work either way. There is no magical major that will guarantee you millions of dollars your first year out of college-you have to work your way up the ladder. So why not choose something you love now, so the years of climbing the corporate ladder are more fun?

photo: in the air …1 by ckgd2

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Elizabeth  |  May 2nd, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    I am so glad I came across this blog! I recently declared being an English major, but I started having my doubts (I was being pressured by the people who wanted me to do something more “practical”). But after reading this post, I feel a lot more confident in pursuing this degree. Thank you so much, Jamie, for this insight!

  • 2. Jamie  |  May 11th, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    @Elizabeth: It definitely takes a lot of guts to pursue a liberal arts major, but if you’re willing to do the work, it can be an amazingly fulfilling decision. Good luck, and remember, enjoy it! College doesn’t last forever. 🙂

  • 3. Pay for College Blog &raq&hellip  |  June 16th, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    […] sister site, Surviving College Life, has an article about choosing a college major entitled “For Love or Money: How to Choose a College Major.” This article may be a helpful tool for your college-aged […]

  • 4. Pay for College Blog - Ti&hellip  |  June 16th, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    […] sister site, Surviving College Life, has an article about choosing a college major entitled “For Love or Money: How to Choose a College Major.” This article may be a helpful tool for your college-aged […]

  • 5. Surviving College Life &r&hellip  |  June 29th, 2009 at 10:13 am

    […] finally, thoughts about Choosing a College Major. Quite some time ago I wrote an article about choosing your major, but Deborah’s article might be a great tool if you’re having trouble reconciling your […]

  • 6. Diana  |  November 28th, 2009 at 8:40 am

    i still can’t decide my major and the deadline is in 3 days time. 🙁

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