Question: What should I major in?
In the world of positive thinking, self-help, personal growth… the common recommendation is to do what you love. If you love art, become an artist. If you love music, do something in that field and so on. The reason for this is if you hate your job, you won’t be very happy.
I admit, I used to think this way myself and I’m sure I’ve posted quotes and articles about doing something you love. My opinion back then would be to choose a major you think you will enjoy working in.
What’s my advice now? Choose a major that’s useful, something that is in demand, needed, and has a high enough income potential where you won’t be living paycheck to paycheck for the rest of your life due to a low ceiling.
A few decades ago, a 4 year college degree was a big advantage. Landing a job was quite easy with that sort of degree. These days, not so much. Just graduated with a 4 year degree? Great, so did tens of thousands of other people. You now have to compete with them to grab one of the limited amounts of positions available and if you chose a degree with very little demand, it’ll be even tougher to land a job.
Am I saying to put your career and money above your happiness and whatever it is you love to do? Sort of but not necessarily. Let me explain.
If what you love to do happens to be in good demand and you can make a career out of it, great. Chances are though, what most people love to do either doesn’t really pay that well or has too much competition.
Love to travel? Playing video games? Watching TV? Browsing the web? So does a lot of other people. This doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there making a living doing what tons of people love to do because there are, but speaking in a practical sense, when you finish college, you’ll likely have student loans to pay off, car payments, rent, and other expenses and if you don’t start making money, life is going to become quite stressful.
Having to work at a job they don’t particular love isn’t something most people are excited about. In fact, it sucks. But the reality is, being financially stressed all the time also sucks.
Choose a major/career that is in demand and pays decently such as computer programming, software development, nursing, dentistry, accounting, sales, careers that involve fixing things, etc. Avoid majors like history, art, math, English, political science, etc.
Basically, if you don’t know how you’re going to make a living with a particular degree, think twice about pursuing it. Unless you really want to be a (insert degree) teacher, choose something more practical.
Does this mean you should give up on your dream career? No. Look, there are plenty of examples of people who pursued what they love and are making a great living out of it but there are even more examples of people who are having a hard time.
So my advice is to major in something that will eventually make you money during normal working hours and if you have a dream job/career/business you want to pursue, work on it outside of normal business hours.
Once your income from your passion surpasses the income you rely on to live, you can then decide whether or not to quit your job and go full time on your passion.
Is this the ideal path? Probably not, but in my opinion, in most cases, it’s the most logical path. You might not love that job but you’ll be able to pay off your student loans, save money for retirement, start a family, plan some vacations, finance your dream business, and so on. Another benefit you may find is having a huge amount of motivation to work toward your dream job/business due to not liking your job very much.
Another thing to keep in mind is you never know what you’ll end up loving. Some people chose careers based on potential earnings and ended up loving what they do so that’s a possibility as well.
People say money isn’t the most important thing but the reality for many people is, when there’s no money, it can become the most important thing.