I’m a firm believer that your college major doesn’t matter. Yes, I said it – what you major in college doesn’t matter. Now when I say it doesn’t matter, I want to be precise in what I say: it doesn’t matter in terms of what you will gain in the future.
How can I be so bold and put out such a blanket statement? Because I’m a firm believer in the individual and what the individual does – that is truly what matters. That is why you should major in what you care about – because you will be more inclined to do activities that will benefit you later on.
The Big Unless…
The only time I believe a major matters is when you need a technical skill for the field you love to be in. So, for example, if you love computer science and programming, having a degree in that technical field does matter because that is what future employers are looking for. You can even get an online graduate degree to give you an edge over the competition.
Now, if you love a non-technical field, such as business, politics, etc. what you major in really doesn’t matter because when you start out, I guarantee you will be more of a generalist than anything else. You will be the office guinea pig. Even if they hire you as a “analyst”, you will analyze whatever they tell you, and you WILL do the odd job.
What Employers Say
At CollegeGrad, they surveyed 22 companies, and only 4 said that majors actually mattered – and the reason cited was the need for a technical skill such as engineering. 10 companies (almost half) said explicitly that majors don’t matter, while other said they mattered in a general sense, but not overly.
In the economics study, it highlighted how only 55% of graduates went into the same field as their major. Out of this 55%, most were technical majors. It also highlighted that this 55% do earn initially more than graduates who went into non-related fields, which makes sense, because technical skills tend to pay more initially. Other fields such as nursing only accept those who have an actual degree, whether it be a bachelors in nursing or masters of science in nursing.
However, the other 45% generally were business or liberal arts majors. The study found that over this entire group, what you study and major in doesn’t matter initially, even though you are less than technical majors. Even more interesting, is that in later life, the wage difference is much less (but this is accounted for a huge distribution of wages as well).
My biggest thought on this – do what you love, not what you feel compelled to. In the end, you happiness in life will matter much more than your major. Don’t slave away and be miserable sitting in a computer lab if programming isn’t your thing. Yes, you could earn more initially, but the value of your future happiness will be worth much more than any high paying job.
Readers, what are your thoughts? Does your major matter?
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.