Published: July 21, 2021

directional sign

Before jumping to any conclusions, let’s walk through some common misconceptions regarding choosing a major...

Myth #1: My major will determine what I do for the rest of my life.

Reality: Studies have shown that within ten years after graduation, most people are working in careers that aren’t directly related to their undergraduate majors. It is becoming more and more common for people to change careers several times during their professional lives. People change; careers change. The connection between the major that you choose now and the career that you’ll find yourself in ten years from now is likely to be very small.

Myth #2: An academic major ties you to a specific career path. 

Reality: While some majors strongly relate to career options (e.g. teaching, engineering), other majors are less related (e.g. communication, political science). While employers take note of your major, they also pay a lot of attention to the skills and experiences you have gained during your undergraduate experience. Additionally, many professional schools seek a diverse group of college majors when admitting incoming students.

Myth #3: Students from the College of Arts and Sciences are only qualified for careers in their specific area of study.

Reality: Liberal arts majors can find meaningful work in business, research, human resources, teaching, the military, and various other occupations. Liberal arts majors can also prepare students for many graduate or professional schools. The specific skills that you develop may be more important than your particular degree.

Myth #4: The best way to explore majors is to take an introductory course. 

Reality: Some introductory courses do not give a good representation of what the overall major is like. For example, a two-hundred-person lecture is quite different from a seminar class. Similarly, an intro course in psychology will not tell you how much science is involved in the major. You can actually learn a lot about a major by reviewing the course syllabi and looking through the required textbooks.

Myth #5: Employers always prefer a student with two majors over students with one major.

Reality: While having complementary majors can be helpful, not all combinations guarantee employer satisfaction. Employers are also interested in out-of-class experiences such as internships, part-time jobs, leadership, etc. Rather than being concerned with the number of majors on your transcript, employers are more focused on the experiences, skills, and knowledge you will bring to the organization.