Get an education, not just a major

Picking a major can feel like choosing a life. Music or math? English or theatre? Students are torn between passions and have to decide what to be when they “grow up.” In reality, choosing a major only determines what you will study the most in an undergraduate setting, according to specialist Kelly Meyer at the Career Center’s  “Career Choices—Still Deciding?” seminar.

Choosing a major is not a decision with huge, irreversible, life-long consequences, Meyer said. It is not just  about choosing a career, a set income, a graduate school or a minor.

You are in college to learn, not to get a degree.

While a degree is the end goal, employers will ask for your resumé—not your transcript. Instead of focusing on what options a minor will provide, take courses related to what you want to do. Even if you do not get a second major or a minor, the learning could be more applicable to your goals, Meyer said. Gain knowledge, because you will need the knowledge, not the degree, in your career.

“A career-oriented undergrad major may help you get a job one time,” she said. “But your education is what will get you promoted again and again, and [it will] allow you to switch careers when that inevitably becomes necessary.”

You can also learn outside of class.

Internships, on-campus activities and leadership experience, work experience, and volunteer and service opportunities are also learning experiences. They allow you to apply patterns of thinking, people skills, and other transferable assets to the situation at hand.

“Skills don’t just happen in class,” she said. “Creative people develop skills in and out of class and maximize their student experience no matter what their major is.”

You will thrive more where you are passionate.

Study something that is interesting. You will be more valuable to society if you enjoy your job, regardless of the salary, and you will perform better, Meyer said. Do not let family influences or preconceived visions deter you from pursuing passions and talents.

“Most of you actually do kind of know what you want to do,” Meyer said, “but you’ve just never had the time to sit down with someone and have the conversation.”

Your life is a J.O.Y.—a Journey of You.

Talk to a career counselor, alumni, parents’ friends, and friends’ parents about what they do to create opportunities that could interest you. Make mistakes, learn from every job, and pursue a career with meaning. Your journey will be different from other students in the same major, Meyer said, but it is your journey.

“It’s never too late to pursue a career with meaning, or to find an opportunity to contribute to a cause,” she said. “It is too late to think someone else will do it for you.”

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