Now that I am many years out of college, I look back and laugh about how much rationalization and thought I put into my choice of major. Even today, when I speak with current college students, I always find it so entertaining how they act so proud and accomplished because of their choice of major. “I’m majoring in Poli-Sci with a minor in Social Media.” What the hell is that anyway? You are studying how F&*D up our government is and how to have an optimal Twitter feed? C’mon now!
I know it’s hard for College Students to see this clearly when you are in the thick of it in college, but please do read my advice below and try let it marinate.
Here it is. My fail proof 3-step process for picking a major:
1. Figure out what you are interested in.
And don’t try to force it or delude yourself into thinking you are interested in a subject/profession when you really aren’t (parental pressure anyone??)
For example, my favorite subject in highschool was History. Few things in my life have been clearer than that. I was good at it and I enjoyed learning and reading about it. That’s what I should have majored in. Because when you are truly interested in the subject at hand, you actually won’t mind showing up and doing the work.
If there isn’t a clear subject that you overwhelming enjoy, then think about something outside of the classroom that you like spending your time doing.
For example, there was a guy in my high school class who loved Dinosaurs and then majored in Archaeology. I think he ended up in the military after school, so it all works out, right?
2. Maximize GPA.
The reason to figure out what you enjoy most is you’ll naturally do the best in that subject. And the most important thing you can do during college is maximize your GPA. Especially if you didn’t go to a top school like the Ivy League or Stanford or Duke. Trust me on this one.
Here’s another example. A friend of mine in When I was in college was also a “Business Administration” major like me. However, just like me, she found it really hard. Wake Forest is known for grade deflation and this actually isn’t a joke. By the way, this is the stupidest policy in the world and ends up hurting the school’s students more than it helps; but more on that later.
So when my friend’s first semester in the business major ended with bad grades, can you guess what she did? She dropped that major and picked one that interested her more: Religion. From the outside, you would think Religion is a joke of a major. If you aren’t going to be a priest or a Rabbi than what’s the point? Well, in her case the point is she ultimately graduated with a 3.9 GPA because she studied what she enjoyed.
And as I’ve always said, a professor will give you a D on a finance test full of lots of math problems. There’s no art to grading those tests- they are pure science. You either got it right or got it wrong. However, grading a Religion paper is subjective. And who could be such a bad writer so as to deserve a D on a religion paper?
So, armed with her stellar GPA, when campus recruiting began she got on the shortlist to interview with Goldman Sachs and ended up landing a plumb job with them in NYC. Now she is an Investment Manager at some ridiculous Billion dollar fund and probably owns an amazing apartment in NYC. Meanwhile, I started in an incredibly hard major, Accounting, before my GPA suffered so much that I had to drop down to general business. I ultimately finished with a GPA in the low 3’s but that just wasn’t high enough when the recruiters made their on campus interview selections. And ultimately that GPA followed me all the way to my MBA applications years later, where I had to work to overcome it by rocking out on the GMAT and making myself interesting. But that’s all another story.
3. Take the path of least resistance and never look back!
Don’t worry about your major being irrelevant in the real world. College isn’t even relevant in the real world, so why waste your time being so concerned? College is just table stakes, and even that’s changing.
Don’t sit around worrying about whether you are employable or not. Do things that interest you, make yourself interesting, and keep that GPA high! I can’t stress that enough. If your school has grade deflation, then transfer.
Now, with all that being said, there are still a few majors that I believe will be highly valuable in the future: Pre-med (obviously), nursing, physics (fast track to Wall Street), computer science and software engineering.
These are the majors of the future that are worth seriously considering should you have the propensity for one of them. If not, and you still want to do liberal arts (and can afford to), then by all means go for it. Just make sure you are using my 3 step process when you make your decision! Good luck.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Leave a comment below and drop me a line anytime!