How Much Does Your College Major Really Matter?

High school students and early college students can feel a lot of pressure when it comes to choosing their major. Many students at this point only have a vague idea of what they are interested in or what career path they plan to pursue. Not only is it possible to change your major once you’ve chosen it, but it also might not be that big of a deal in the long-run. Here are some things to consider when facing this decision.

When Does Your College Major Come Into Play?

Depending on your plans for after college, you might be asking yourself whether your college major matters. The short answer is that in some cases it does, but in others it doesn’t. Students hoping to go into STEM careers usually need to stick with the sciences when it comes to choosing a major. But even then, they have some wiggle room.

There are two main paths after undergrad: the job path and the graduate school path. When applying for jobs and interviewing, most employers are going to be more interested in your work experience and basic skills than in your major. Liberal arts majors end up going into many different career fields. Basically, with any liberal arts degree you can show an employer that you are driven, work well with others, and have good communication skills.

Graduate school admissions officers tend to look for the same qualities. They want to see good grades, good test scores, and some work or internship experiences. For example, many lawyers start out as English majors.

Are All Majors Created Equal?

All majors are not created equal. An art history major and a chemistry major are likely to have different options when it comes to post-grad career paths. However, both an art history major and a chemistry major will have many options. It’s true that STEM majors tend to have more lucrative careers, but that only goes so far. A liberal arts major could easily be earning more than a STEM major several years down the road if they’ve worked their way up in a company and the STEM major is stuck in an entry position.

How Do You Choose a Major that Fits Your Plans?

Entry-level positions at major companies usually only require a four-year degree. Most specific job skills can be learned while on the job, so employers want to see that you can learn and work well. If you’re interested in a particular industry, but you’ve already chosen a major that might not perfectly line up, don’t panic. Focus on learning the skills that will help you break into that industry even while sticking with your chosen major.

Don’t believe the lie that you must go into a field that exactly matches your major. Not all math majors become accountants, and not all engineering majors become engineers. Choose a major that will offer you good learning opportunities and the chance to do well. Focus on getting good grades, work experience, and learning something valuable from every class you take. This will do you more good than stressing over choosing the perfect major.

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