Opinion

Choosing a major is hard work at BU

Academic programs should afford students greater flexibility

I’m confused. Am I supposed to choose a major or a salary? I was under the impression — a pretty naive impression, I’ll admit — that you come to college to learn, to choose a field of study and to actually want to be educated. However, lately it seems everyone is completely preoccupied with the average salary in a prospective field.

It’s important to have a plan for a career while in college. But should a job’s salary be more important than the student’s interest? Should you despise the courses you’re taking because you believe the major you’re pursuing might make you wealthy in the future? What ever happened to the belief that “If you love what you’re doing you never work a day in your life?” I’m starting to believe I’m the only person left who would rather choose an interesting career path over a six-figure salary.

Binghamton University makes it hard to explore majors as it is. A student who wants to sample different courses in various departments faces numerous roadblocks. First off, certain majors require that you start taking your courses for that major as soon as first semester freshman year, and failing to do so pushes you back in terms of graduating on time. The next struggle is that if you haven’t declared a major, you can’t take certain classes within a field. How can you declare a major in a field if you aren’t able to take a basic course in it?

If you asked the average student why he or she is majoring in a certain field, the typical response isn’t one filled with joy or excitement about that area. Rarely is someone so overwhelmingly excited about that topic. More often than not, the response is that he or she feels a degree in this or that respective major will lead to a high-paying occupation in the future.

I’m not saying that this goes for all students. And just because I’m utterly repulsed by the idea of taking any more than the basic required math and science courses doesn’t mean that every student who is a science major is only doing it in the hopes of a high salary. However, whatever it is that you find joy in is what you should major in — not because you believe it will lead to more monetary success in your future.

Obviously there’s the factor of the price of school; you’re making an investment in your future. The money you are paying now to earn a degree will, hopefully, turn into a wise investment and lead to making more money in a career in the future. However, students should at least enjoy what they’re doing. There shouldn’t be so many salary-obsessed people who aren’t even applying for jobs yet.

In high school, everyone complained about all of the boring classes they were forced to take. However, now we are given a choice. You choose the classes you take, and I still hear the same number of, if not more, complaints about the same thing. Nobody is forced to major in a field that bores them.

Students need to take a step back and reevaluate their future plans. Put your priorities in order, and rank which is more important to you: excitement about what you are studying and working on, or money.

Views expressed in the opinion pages represent the opinions of the columnists.