College Major Question

Number of people on that list employed in their major: 0

This is the story of my two friends. One majored in theater. One double-majored in theater and political science.

Both spent their undergraduate years learning and studying their greatest passion.

Guess which one’s employed?

My advice to the OP, follow your passion, but major in something practical, too. It’s not that much more work or time to double major, and it could really be the difference between you being jobless or having a fulfilling career.

By the way, I just wanted you to know that half the passions I have now I wasn’t even aware existed until I got to college. You have a lot of time to experiment with different classes and choose your major. I think I changed mine like six times. You have time. Relax.

Here’s what the American Historical Association thinks you can do with an undergrad degree in history.

I vote for majoring in what interests you, but then I’m not especially motivated by income.

One liberal arts degree is pretty much as good as another. I know plenty of liberal arts majors (I’m an English major myself) and the majority of them never intended to do work in their field, anyway. The point was to get a degree from a good university. That was usually enough (at least in 1998) to get you a job with Andersen Consulting or some other large, general white-collar employer. It pissed me off when people asked what I was going to do with an English degree. I never cared it was an English degree, I just wanted a B.A. I did my own thing, photography, (and one of my good friends from college is a history major who has a career as a photojournalist) on the side, got the necessary experience, and it worked out fine. It depends on how you view your college education and what the purpose of a degree is.

At any rate, I would wait until at least sophomore year college before settling on a major. I personally didn’t declare English until 6 months before graduation (I was nominally a political science major before that, but stopped taking polisci classes.) There’s no hurry.

I know lots of people say all you need is a degree in something, but I never found that to be true. I could never find employers who just wanted to hire a person with any degree. Maybe I just did not apply at the right places.

i have a degree (B.A) in political science and I am farming and teaching English in Spain. You never know what the universe has in store for you. The future is pretty well nigh unreadable. My personal advice is to do what you are attracted to doing and it will turn out all right.

I recall a mantra taught to me by my art teacher: “Oh great universe, surprise me again.”

Did you, or those others, have related job experience before being hired by that retailer? Once you’ve got some experience under your belt, what you took in college becomes increasingly irrelevant…but it’s getting that first job which may be tricky.

Definitely a case of YMMV depending on a number of factors (including the job market, the person’s related experience, the school, etc.). But the majority of my friends (I would say 80%+) got jobs out of college that had nothing to do with or were only tangentially related to their major. Of course, these people also tended to pick up internships or other profession-related summer jobs before their junior and senior years. So, if you are aiming for the “get any degree” approach, definitely try to get useful job experience in the summer.

You might be surprised. I have a Bachelor’s degree in marketing; it required two semesters of calculus (though, admittedly, it was a “dumbed-down” version of calc from what the science and engineering majors took), a semester of statistics, two semesters of finance, and two semesters of accounting.

I was the opposite , all of my friends got jobs directly related to their majors. That is probably due to them having tech majors such as engineering or computer science.

Also I should add that I just did not want to work at any job, I only applied for specific jobs that I liked.

No, I was promoted out of the customer service team, as was the person who eventually became my manager (who didn’t even have a college degree – she dropped out of Bryn Mawr with 85% of a degree in feminist theory or something). First I was a PR assistant, then a marketing assistant, then a copywriter, etc. My other jobs prior to that one but after college, were all McJobs or temp work.

If it makes you feel any better, a BS in a bio field is worth approximately nothing, in that it gets you into jobs that pay about as well as a high school diploma gets you in other fields. You need a PhD to really have a career in the field, which is why I’m back in school, writing this instead of reading a very dense and boring paper I’m supposed to discuss tomorrow. Oh, and there’s a huge glut of bio PhDs at the moment, so tenured university faculty positions are subject to fierce competition, and many PhDs end up working in another field.

So there’s your alternative spelled out for you. Sleep well.

A fast growing area in biology now is bioinformatics and you don’t need a PhD in that field to get a good job. It involves a lot of math and stat work. A good part of that work involves analyzing data related to DNA and genes.

(emphasis mine)

So, you did have some sort of job experience before you were hired there (even if you’re discounting it). Which still jibes with what I’m saying: it’s very difficult to get hired in a marketing position if you don’t have either (a) a related degree, or (b) some sort of job experience. IME, a college grad with a liberal arts degree and no experience in the field was going to get very few nibbles on marketing positions, even before the recession.

(OTOH, it is possible that your company is an outlier on this. :slight_smile: )

You (and most of the people in this thread) are looking at it completely the wrong way. College is not about preparing you for a job; it’s about preparing you to be able to educate yourself. It’s true that if all you have is a degree, you’re going to be hurting when you go to look for a job, but if you have a good GPA, a couple internships under your belt and any kind of decent professional network built up, you will find something. Your first job will very likely not be related to what you do as a career, but it’ll get you started.

That said, I definitely agree with the advice to mix up what you’re interested in with something that’s employable. Just make sure that latter part is something you enjoy at least a little bit.

I don’t know exactly what the bachelor’s level job market is like, but I’m working on a PhD in statistics, and I’m looking pretty seriously at doing some marketing-related stuff for the next few years. They want quantitative people pretty badly, and that same demand definitely exists in industry.

If you have NO job experience --not even pay-the-bills-McJobs --and you’re 22, you have bigger problems than a non-practical degree. A practical degree won’t help you if you are lazy, or a short-sighted idiot, or both – which is what you have to be to graduate college with ZERO work experience – not even a semester of work-study or an unpaid internship – under your belt.

One thng about college is that typically it has a far wider range of courses than even the best high school. You might be well advised to think carefully about what about history particularly interests you, and contemplate that as a possible major. Politics? Cultural behavior? How people are motivated to make choices? Law? There is a broad range of disciplines that the typical high school curriculum barely acknowledges the existence of, much less has classes in.

You might be well advised to enter college without a declared major, sorting this out with your advisor as you get a semester or two of freshman courses under your belt. )There’s always a technical term for this status, but it varies from school to school – at some places, ‘matriculated’ means with a declared major, at others, simply that you’ve been admitted as a degree-seeking full-time student. So I won’t venture to guess what your eventual college will term that status – only that it nearly always is an option.

"You (and most of the people in this thread) are looking at it completely the wrong way. College is not about preparing you for a job; "

This is has been a debate for a while - is college there to get you ready for a job or is it more than that? Almost all the people who I knew with tech majors really just wanted job training. They did not like their non tech classes. People with social science majors did not agree , probably because they knew a history degree was not made to prepare them for a job.

Tons of people major in history and it does not handicap them on the job market. Hardly anyone gets jobs that relate to what they did in college unless he/she takes a vocational major. The idea that majoring in traditional liberal arts fields is a ticket to poverty is a myth.

When I was in college everyone thought IT was the ticket to jobs. “I’m gonna make money working with computers!!” Turns out these are the guys getting screwed by outsourcing to India, and their one dimensional asses are unemployed while people with traditional liberal arts degrees are doing fine.

Check out this:

One of the more interesting pieces of information in the above is that the two most common job offers to people graduating with liberal arts’ degrees are management trainee and sales positions. So no, it is not a ticket to flipping burgers.

Another quote from the link:

“Earnings. Rising salaries for liberal arts
graduates are part of a long-term trend. According
to NCES, salaries for social science
majors increased more than 62 percent from
1975 to 2001, and humanities majors saw an
increase of almost 67 percent. These salaries
compare well to those of engineering majors,
which had an overall growth of 26 percent
during the same period, and salaries of business
or management majors, which grew by
29 percent.”

I don’t really think it’s so much a debate. Most four-year colleges have programs that satisfy people with either or both viewpoints. It’s up to students to decide for themselves how they view the role of post-secondary education. It’s not an either/or proposition with most universities.