Does Your College Major Matter When Applying For A Job?

Elizabeth Witbeck

One of the most popular questions that college students have is regarding which college program to enroll in. They want to know which major is the easiest, which major will earn them the highest salary, and which major will earn them the perfect career. There is a lot of pressure on college students to choose a college major.

Many students seem stuck on the belief that choosing a college major is a decision that will affect the rest of their life. They spend many days fretting over which major to pick, wondering if their choice is the right one. Students often end up with academic remorse, believing that if they had chosen a different major, they would have been better off in their career.

So does your college major matter when applying for a job or choosing a career? The short answer: no.

When you graduate from a liberal arts college, you may earn a degree in something like English, history, or philosophy. There are two ways of looking at the liberal arts college experience, and these views may seem contradictory.

On the one hand, liberal arts allows a student to have a well-rounded education. Students take a variety of classes in many different subjects. They have knowledge in many areas and have skills that can easily be transferred from career to career.

On the other hand, there is no precise career path when you have a liberal arts degree, in contrast to vocational schools. The great thing about this is that your knowledge and skills open you up to many different careers. You don’t have to settle down and choose just one vocation. The downside to this is that there is not a clear path to follow, and liberal arts majors often lack experience in the career field they desire.

There are some careers where you will need to have education in something specific in order to pursue that occupation. If you want to be a massage therapist, you will need to attend massage school. If you want to become a nurse, you will need to go to nursing school. When you choose to go to a vocational or technical school, what you major in will lead you directly into a career. This is a benefit to many people, because what you learn in your classes directly leads you to a career. The downside to this is that your education does not offer flexible or transferable skills. If you go to nursing school, but later decide that you hate it, you will need to go back to school and learn something different.

Some job advertisements will be specific in stating that they want only people who majored in certain careers to apply. For example, a job listing may say they only want applications from business or economics majors. Feel free to apply for these jobs anyway, regardless of what your major is. What matters most in this situation is your experience. If you have the experience to show that you can handle the job, an employer won’t care what your college major is.

The further away from your graduation you get, the less your college major matters. When you first graduate from college, employers may ask about your college experience and your degree. The more experience you get, the less your college education matters. What employers really care about is the experience you have had; that is what really shows whether or not you can do the job. The degree you have is pretty much irrelevant.

Many college students become stressed out, wondering what the perfect college major is. They put a lot of thought into selecting their major, believing that it is the key to their future career and this one decision will determine everything. This could not be further from the truth. The purpose of a college major is to be able to focus on one single topic of interest in college, something that you truly enjoy.

But what if you have several things you are interested in? That is fine too. There are some people who have two, or even three majors in college.

Universities provide the opportunity to take classes in many different fields. You can be knowledgeable about many areas and gain transferable and flexible skills. Instead of being anxious that your college major doesn’t have one clear career path, look at it as having many career paths. You have many opportunities available to you, because you have the skills and background to fit into any of them. An English major can be a writer, a librarian, a real estate agent, an astrophysicist – anything. This is a great position to be in.

Your college major does not matter all that much when it comes to your job search. Do not spend too much time wondering if you picked the correct major or living in regret over your choices. Instead, think about the career you want, and work on the experience necessary to land yourself a position in that field.

About The Author

Elizabeth Witbeck

Elizabeth Witbeck works as a college consultant and educational entrepreneur. She launched the first business in the United States that sends care packages to first generation college students, and also helps prospective college students on their applications. Her interests include education, poverty, and working with youth.

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