Good or Bad Advice: Major in Whatever Makes You Happy
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My parents often told me, “Major in whatever makes you happy.” They never pushed me to go towards any particular profession like many parents do, and I was pretty much left to my own devices to choose a major and a career.
I picked history, and I never changed my major all throughout college. I then went and got a master’s degree in history with the plan of working in museums someday. Museum professionals and historians don’t get paid that much, but my parents didn’t voice any opinions about the low salaries in the field either. I did exactly what they said, which was to pick the career I wanted, and I think they were just happy that I grew into a responsible adult.
I’m Not Using My Major Today, But I’m Happy
Fast forward a few years, and I find myself on a Caribbean island teaching English to college students and blogging my little heart out on the side. I’ve learned tons of new things in the past few years like wordpress and SEO and geek out at the thought of learning some programming. I figured out how to create and grow my online business, and suddenly I’m not really interested in working in museums anymore. I want to do something completely different. Now that I’ve been back in the States for a few days after living over 2 years abroad, I’m doing just that.
If I were to go back to school right now (which I’m not), I’d probably major in business, entrepreneurship, marketing, or programming. Instead, I have 6 years and $35,000 worth of history brain that I might not ever use. At the same time, I wonder if I would be successful if I hadn’t taken all of those writing courses. I do think that in many ways the discipline of graduate school and the rigor of my writing curriculum helped me get to where I am today. Sometimes, it just seems sad that I jumped completely off of one track and directly onto another, but I’m glad I let go and allowed the changes to happen.
Should We Let Kids Pick Whatever Major They Want?
Maybe it’s not the best idea to let kids pick whatever major they want. After all, 18 is pretty darn young to know what you want to do for the rest of your life. Maybe we should encourage kids to take a few years off to travel and work and figure things out first before they spend a lot of money on a major they won’t use. Or, maybe we should let them go ahead and pick and allow them to learn along the way.
It’s a tricky topic, but I’m glad that I had the opportunity to be independent and make my own decisions. I had many friends who felt forced into different fields, and my parents always made me feel like they’d be happy with whatever I picked. It’s been an interesting ride, and I’m looking forward to hear your thoughts on if you “majored in what made you happy” or if you went the practical parent-approved route.
Photo Credit: Jason Bache