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For some, deciding on a major is a source of major stress during the first year or two of college. Others are sure of what they’d like to do before they enter school.

But the question is, how much do college majors really matter?

Are they binding, and do they really restrict your post-college career?

Graduated!

Source: Wikipedia Commons by Ralph Daily

The answer I’ve come to find is that college majors do not, in fact, matter as much as many might think.

Of course, there are always a few exceptions; if you’re planning to be a surgeon, a pre-med or bio major is compulsory. The same goes, I’d imagine, for chemical engineers and the like.

But what about people like my recently graduated cousin, a psychology major? She already has an interview set up for an entry-level position – at a finance company. On the other side of the spectrum, my mother earned her bachelor’s in the very same major, but went on to be a successful labor and employment lawyer.

For the most part, your college major doesn’t seem to truly limit your future career. Although most employers today require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, the subject studied isn’t necessarily the only thing they’re looking at.

Instead of focusing on applicants’ majors, the idea of them having experienced a variety of fields throughout their undergraduate studies – a key feature of most liberal arts schools – may even be more attractive to employers, as it suggests well-roundedness.

Furthermore, college is a time when one is able to hone personal skills such as critical thinking and intelligent, professional writing – skills applicable to almost every type of workplace. Does it truly matter, then, in what context these skills are learned and applied? Perhaps it is even better to learn these skills in a general sense and be able to apply them to a variety of fields throughout your college education in order to prepare you for a multitude of post-graduate possibilities.

My university, like many other liberal arts schools, requires that all students complete a set of core classes. In other words, of the 40 classes required to graduate, 18 of those are “core classes,” while the remaining 22 are comprised of major, minor, and elective classes. Our core is admittedly larger than many other schools’, and consists of intro- and upper-level courses in English, history, philosophy, math, science, theology, as well as a fine arts, ethics, diversity, and language requirement.

Although these extensive requirements are the bane of some of my fellow students’ existences, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I’m a Writing & Art History major with a minor in Political Science, and yet I’ve learned about binary code, the physics behind human vision, theoretical statistics, Decartes, and a thousand other interesting things.

My point is not necessarily to convince you to attend a college with a strong core curriculum (although I wouldn’t argue against it), but rather that your college experience is what you make of it. This includes everything from choosing meaningful campus clubs to become involved with to strategically selecting your electives. I was forced to take classes that I would never have otherwise; if your school doesn’t have a core, I’d still urge you to step outside your comfort zone with a few of your elective classes. Microeconomics might not be fun, but will it diversify your skills and make you more attractive to potential employers? Probably.

I will leave college as, predominantly, a writer, but one who has experienced a leadership position as the chair of my university’s Honor Council, whose hearings are court-like in structure. And one who knows her way (however tentatively) around HTML code. And one who can wax poetic on theory versus practice of the institution of democracy.

The point is, if you diversify your classes and interests during the most formative years of your life, you will emerge a multi-faceted person with a countless number of skills and far-reaching knowledge. And this – rather than a laser-focus attention on one specific field – may prove more beneficial in the long run.

Do you agree? Does your college major not really matter? Or are these are just the self-reassuring musings of a Writing major fast approaching the real-life, post-recession world?

Sound off in the comments!

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