Your major is your business

By Thomas Moran | Staff Writer

It’s a question many students have heard, though it comes in different forms: What are you doing after college? Do you know what you want to do with your life? What are you going to do with that degree?

I’ve been asked this question by peers, mentors, professors and parents on countless occasions. In fact, I seem to have developed a brief monologue that I perform every time the question presents itself.

It goes something like this: “I plan on working in corporate public relations for a while. The field is experiencing significant job growth. I think PR will allow me to be creative while also opening doors to other fields. Law school might be in the cards as well.”

Did the age-old adage “You can be whatever you want to be” bite the dust when I enrolled in college? It certainly seems so.

There is no denying that certain majors are designed to provide students with hard skills associated with specialized career paths, while other majors are broader in scope and less tailored for specific job markets; however, this factor should not influence a student’s degree selection.

Students should feel free to major in whatever field they desire, without fear of ridicule. An individual’s decision to specialize in something that fulfills them is an act of bravery, particularly when that major is not accompanied with a cut-and-dry career path.

This toxic narrative seems to equate one’s major with future success or job security. In reality, choice of major is not quite as limiting as some believe. Many graduates go on to pursue careers in fields somewhat, if not completely, unrelated to their degree.

I was previously employed by a woman who majored in journalism. Rather than pursuing a career in the field, she started an athletic wear company that is now a multimillion-dollar business. The mother of my close friend majored in graphic design and has since lead a successful career in animal husbandry.

When I enrolled at Baylor, I was unsure of what major to pursue. Though I knew that my talents and academic affinities were concentrated in creative disciplines, such as the visuals arts and writing, pride and desire for financial stability influenced me to declare biology as my major and pre-medicine as my academic track.

By the time freshman year came to a close, my competitive GPA seemed to be a small reward for the countless soul-sucking hours I spent wasting away in library isolation cubicles studying anti-derivatives and electron orbitals. Being required to store a formaldehyde-doused rat corpse under my bed for biology lab pushed me over the edge, and I decided to find another major at the end of the school year.

After finding my niche in the journalism department, I noticed a shift in the response I received when I shared my major with others. In many cases, the awe and admiration I received for being a science major was replaced by concern, pity and a question I have since grown tired of hearing: What do you want to do with that degree?

Perhaps the best answer is another question: Why must I defend my decision to major in journalism?

I am pursuing a degree in a field I enjoy. That’s the truth, but I do not owe that answer to anyone.

The fact that my career path is less clear than that of other majors does not lessen the quality of my education, the effort I invest in my schoolwork or the security of my future. Those lie in the hands of each and every student, regardless of major.

Thomas Moran is a junior journalism major from Greenwood Village, Colo.