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Why You're Choosing The Wrong Major

Posted by Jen King on 7/19/15 8:30 AM


Deciding what you want to do career-wise is a huge decision and the first step is choosing a major. Right? 

Nope. Just hear me out for one second because you're probably going about this all wrong. 

When you're deciding your future, you probably follow these steps: 

  • Go to school
  • Pick a major
  • Find a job in the major

But often times there's a 4th step as well: find another job because you either can't find a great one related to your major or you realize you absolutely hate the jobs that you can get with your experience.

Now what? 

The big secret that many post graduates understand is that what you think you'd like to do for a career and what you actually want to do aren't always the same thing

You shouldn't be choosing a major by asking yourself, "What do I like to do?"

You should already know from first-hand experience what your talents are before you even think about  the kind of education you need to correspond to that talent. Plus, it's even harder to  choose your major with parental pressure ("you should be a nurse"), time pressure ("you need to choose before next semester or you'll be behind"), and the fact that you're in a stage of your life where you're figuring out who you are in the first place. 

Two years ago Forbes posted an article covering  college graduate trends and what they ended up doing after graduating Here's what they found: 

"Half of grads say they would choose a different major or school if they could do their education over. It’s not surprising that the visual and performing arts majors have the most regrets, with 47 percent saying they would study something else given the chance. For social science majors, it’s 39 percent."

Everyone is doing it all wrong.  Consider for a moment what would happen if you switched the steps you took while picking a major: 

Find out who you are

Young adults should find themselves doing a bit of soul searching after high school and into their early 20s. Where do I picture my life going? Should I go on a service trip or a religious mission? What should I major in? Should I backpack Europe? 

You can answer a lot of those questions by volunteering and spending your time making a difference — you might discover that teaching English or volunteering in an orphanage will lead you to  discover unexpected paths for yourself.

A semester abroad will give you time on your own to step back, get new perspective, and decide what your goals are before you jump into them. Volunteering (and a bit of travel) was the thing Brianna needed to help her realize she was in the wrong major.

Get some experience

It's not that education isn't necessary or important, but you don't have to start school right now.  School is so important that you should make sure you're taking the classes you need to prepare you for the job you will actually have.

Figure out what you'd like to do on a daily basis before locking yourself into a major or job you won't really like. Job shadow people in careers you're interested in. Analyze the perks and disadvantages of the positions you research. 

Consider an internship or volunteer in your field of interest to get on-the-job experience. 

Ask what major you need for that job

After you find a field that you enjoy working in, ask those who work there what major would be most beneficial for that line of work. Ask employees what they majored in and what they would have done differently. You may be surprised to realize it's probably not a major that you were even considering. 

Get the education you need

Choose the major that was advised to you by those in your field of choice. You'll feel a lot more confident and have a clearer focus before diving into school. 

ILP Romania

Back to the first step about finding yourself. If you think that volunteering abroad can help you find your way, come talk to us. International Language Programs is a non-profit organization who has years and years of experience helping college-aged students do just that. You'll be living abroad, challenging yourself and delving into rich cultures, giving you the chance to really mold who you are — learn more by talking to an ILP representative: 

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Topics: Benefits of Volunteering, Build Your Resume

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Hi! We are ILP, a non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. Check out our tips for making the most of your time traveling and living abroad.

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