The Wrong Reasons for Choosing a Major

Because choosing a major is so difficult, it’s tempting to take shortcuts. A good friend majors in psychology? Maybe that means it’s right for you. Your parents are both doctors? Maybe you should be a pre-med major. Although these are common scenarios for college students, they demonstrate bad decision making. Some common, but very wrong reasons to choose a particular major:

Social Pressure and Expectations

It’s easy to get caught up in what others think. Some may say your intended major is too easy, or doesn’t provide good job prospects. Alternatively, you may hear promises of high pay and guaranteed employment. Friends, family and teachers may think you should go into a particular field because of your grades. Remember, though, that only you will have to live with the decisions you make. No one can choose a major for you, although it might seem like the easy route to take.

Media Coverage and Popularity

After the Enron accounting scandal, many students entered the accounting field in droves lured by the promise of high salaries. While graduates generally did quite well in terms of salary and job opportunities (at least for the few years following the Sarbanes-Oxley Act), many later came to realize that the accounting field wasn’t right for their personalities or interests. Now accounting graduates are finding that job opportunities aren’t as plentiful as promised by accounting programs and the media. The story is similar for many other fields. Choosing a major solely based on alleged job opportunities or high salaries may backfire in the long-run. Job prospects should certainly be considered, but not the only basis for your career choice.

Anecdotal Information

No matter which major you choose, others will be quick to offer stories meant to steer you away or reinforce your decision. The problem is that no college major is right for everyone. A nursing degree might result in great career success and satisfaction for one person, while another individual with the same degree might be miserable. Therefore, it’s advisable to examine statistics and your own situation when deciding whether or not to choose a particular major.

A Bad Class

One bad experience shouldn’t derail your goals. No matter what major you choose, there will be courses with bad professors or hard tests. When dealing with difficult courses, it’s important to keep the end goal in mind.

When considering college majors, think about what’s right for your interests and goals. Don’t rush into the decision.