There is a time in every person’s life where the question “What’s your major?!” begins to feel like a personal assault on your physical and emotional well-being. Even when you have left college and are trying make your own way in the big, new, scary, “real” world the question simply becomes “What WAS your major?” It will haunt you from age 17-24 and maybe beyond. The spirit of majors is an angry spirit and demands satisfaction. The problem is you won’t really understand that your major doesn’t matter until it is already too late. “Why doesn’t it matter,” you ask? Excellent question. I’m going to reveal to you why it matters almost as much as your decision to get pizza at 3AM on a Monday night every week of fall semester.
You are not ever in your life going to be defined by something as simple as what you choose to study. College is supposed to broaden your mind in an intellectual and social way so it seems contradictory that it gets boiled down to the one track of education you decided to follow. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of people major in something that becomes an integral part of what they decide to do with their lives, but this is not everyone’s experience nor should it be. One of the beautiful parts of growing older is realizing that everyone has a different track in life. Two people who decide to chase down the same type of careers will go about it in sometimes vastly different ways. You need to look at your major as your training wheels. It can get you going in a direction you might want, but once those wheels come off, you can go anywhere you like. You might even want to get a new bike.
I am a stand up comedian. I have been doing this for almost 9 years now. I also hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications with a minor in History from the University of Scranton. While performing comedy might fall somewhere in the giant realm of “Communications,” it isn’t exactly a straight line from major to career path. I don’t see my time in college as wasted nor do I think I should be using my degree more than I am. The misconception that some people seem to have about holding a degree is that it can be deployed in times of great need out on the streets, like a kind of Swiss Army knife… a really, really expensive Swiss Army Knife. I know many stand up comedians who went to great schools and have degrees in subjects even less related to comedy. One of my best friends has a degree in Chemistry from the University of Virginia and I would be hard pressed to recall if any of her jokes mention chemical reactions at all.
The point is that your major cannot define you unless you let it. It all goes into the blender of YOU. You are a person, you contain multitudes, and you are allowed to have a change of mind and heart. Shoot, if we all had one idea of what we wanted to be from childhood to adulthood there would be SO MANY astronauts. An untenable amount of astronauts. What you want to do will change and evolve and double-back and twist-turn upside down as you get older. The worst thing you can do with that evolution is try to jam it into a box you feel it MUST fit inside.
Higher education is about growth, but so is life. What you do from ages 18-22 cannot be used as a strict guideline for what you MUST do with the rest of your life. Having knowledge will never be a bad thing, keep learning and changing and being flexible and you will be a wonderful, crucial citizen of the world. So next time someone asks “What’s your major?!” you can just say “Life, bro!” and walk away knowing it sounds like a joke and little cheesy, but it’s also kinda true.
What are your feelings on college majors? love ’em? Hate ’em? Let us know!