Whether you have yet to declare a major or are doubtful about the one you have now, it is worth heeding the following — pick a major that interests you, that you have an affinity for and that is demanded by the job market. All three factors are vital in securing a future that is both fulfilling and lucrative.
Some time ago, I wrote a column titled, “Study what you love.” Only now do I recognize the degree to which this is largely unhelpful. For example, I can love my major as much as I want and even perform well in it, but if the job market does not reward those who study it, then it may not be worth the time and investment expended to do so.
Students at universities all over the country are constantly forgoing employment considerations to enjoy four years of college studying something they enjoy. This may equate to a better college experience, but it also leads to scarce employment opportunities once college is over.
A similar problem arises when you want to study a certain subject but struggle in it. Sure, studying such a subject may provide fulfillment through appearances, but such enthusiasm quickly diminishes upon receiving subpar or even failing grades. This may come in the form of a student who wishes to be a doctor but lacks the aptitude required to be one. Even if this individual were to prevail with passing grades in an uncharacteristic major, they would only be setting themselves up for further adversity in a job in which the employer expects regularly exceptional performances.
At BU, one of the most commonly declared majors for undergraduates in Harpur College of Arts and Sciences is psychology. Coincidentally, in the United States, psychology bears the highest unemployment rate within a specific major, at 19.5 percent. A similar trend exists with majors in the humanities or social sciences that are almost as frequently declared as they are unemployable.
Then when the job fair comes to town, many Harpur College students grieve over the lack of opportunities presented to them. Eager to compose explanations, they will quite often cite discrimination as the reason for scarce opportunities, rather than re-evaluate their marketable skills to realize they have none as sociology majors with minors in women, gender and sexuality studies. Why are students choosing majors that offer so few job opportunities? Reasons range from disillusionment to outright indifference, but whatever they may be, it would benefit BU students to avoid them.
Before being labeled a hypocrite by my fellow political scientists and writers, I will make the distinction of being uniquely exempt from such vocational considerations. For both institutions that I am to soon pursue — the military and law school — majors matter little. Unlike many students, I was afforded the luxury of studying whatever I desired as long as my grades were good enough to ensure acceptance into such institutions. Many BU students can revel in the same privilege, but certainly not most who seek employment elsewhere immediately after graduation.
Concentrating every action around financial interests can be a recipe for disaster. It can result in everything from unbearable boredom to unthinkable depravity. Money is not the key to life, nor should the pursuit of knowledge traditionally known to award little of it always be ignored. But there is no question that studying what is interesting, innate and demanded is essential to finding oneself in a career that is wholly rewarding.
Brian Deinstadt is a senior double-majoring in political science and English.