In recent years, more than 80% of high school graduates had researched their field of choice before choosing their major in college. This mindset works well if your degree guaranteed a career, and it’s true that certain careers require training and skills found in specific degrees, especially STEM-related careers.
However, studies, and real-life experience, show that your major is unlikely to have large impacts on your career success. Too often do students think that a degree promises successes in the future. So again, unless you are pursuing a specific career that requires a certain degree, think again about the importance of your college major.
1. Any college degree demonstrates an ability to learn and apply. Keep in mind that undergraduate degrees include general education, so for the first two years, most of your classes will be breadth requirements. Having a completed college degree shows that you know a bit about various things. In addition, multiply majors share similar skills. Someone who studied English can easily transition into technical writing at a tech company. Never believe that your past experiences are useless; all experiences are valuable and add perspective to your next goals. This perspective may even be the reason you are hired! More importantly, it shows that you are committed to a goal and reached it; this is important to employers. Over 50% of college graduates work in a job that requires a degree, but only about 25% of them have a job related to their major.
2. Tech companies still need non-tech skills. What I mean by this is that your major can still land you a job at big tech companies, at which you can earn tech industry salaries still! Every company, especially large ones, need non-tech skills: HR, accounting, management. A popular choice would be a Scrum Master. People skills are emphasized as they are coveted when leading groups, especially groups of STEM-oriented workers. Your soft skills can carry you far as well.
3. Happiness is important. As I often remind my students when they are creating a school list, be sure to pick a place where you’ll be happy. After all, you are the one living there for the next four or more years. A happy worker is an efficient worker. A happy student is a motivated student. A motivated student is eager to succeed. This has a domino effect, clearly!
4. It’s who you know, not what you know. An important part of going to college is meeting people and widening your social network. As a teacher, I also remind students that what you learn at different schools will pretty much be the same. How much more psychology is there to learn, whether it’s at an Ivy League school or your local community college? In fact, some textbooks might even be the same! Therefore, college is more about opportunities and environment. It’s been shown that students from lower-income families rise in social class after attending Ivy League schools. Knowing the hiring manager is more important than having straight As. “It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.” – Arthur Clarke
Overall, academic performance does not lead you directly to a job. Interviews, social skills, non-academic talents, personality, and a combination of other factors all affect your professional success.