Home2018-2019Exploring the myth of “useless majors”

Exploring the myth of “useless majors”

Nick Sabatini,
Lifestyles Editor

All WU students must choose a major before the end of their sophomore year. Choosing a college major can be stressful, as doing so can determine one’s future. Some people may advise students to choose a major based on job prospects by staying away from “useless majors,” while others may advise students to pursue their interests and passions. With all of this contradicting advice giving anxiety to students, it can be hard to decide what major to choose.

Of course, one place that can help one make the decision is the internet, but that may not necessarily help students who are indecisive. A New York Times article attempts to debunk myths regarding choosing a major, including the myth that the liberal arts majors are unemployable. The article states that Kentucky governor Matt Bevin once said, “If you’re studying interpretive dance, God bless you, but there’s not a lot of jobs right now in America looking for people with that as a skill set.”

Although it may be true that there may not be much demand for interpretive dance majors, liberal arts majors have features that employers value, such as writing, synthesizing and problem-solving. An article by Forbes claims “That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket.”

However, other websites disagree with the New York Times. The website The Simple Dollar put a liberal arts degree as one of the 10 worst college majors to choose in 2015. The websites states that, “A liberal arts degree is the laughing stock of college degree programs for a reason: it’s not specialized enough to prepare you for a specific career. That’s why most liberal arts majors end up working in an entirely different field, such as real estate, business, finance or sales.”

This conflicting information suggests that students of any major will find a job, but if the major is not specialized, you may find yourself working in a field you did not intend to work in, often for lower pay. Questions to ask yourself when choosing a major are: do you value your nature of work more than the paycheck? Does your job mean more to you than buying a nice house or car? If the answer to these questions is no, then you might want to consider choosing a major that’s more career-oriented.

However, one of the most important actions one can do as a student is to make connections through networking. These connections can be used as references when looking for a job. Fortunately, a small institution like WU makes it easy to network, regardless of your major.

Heather Fyfe at the University of Connecticut sees the importance of networking: “If more professionals in your industry know of your name it will give you an ‘edge’ over other applicants, which is especially useful after graduation when there is an influx of new applicants entering the workforce,” said Fyfe to University of Connecticut’s website.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of job opportunities available for liberal arts majors. According to Forbes, the most attractive employer for liberal arts students is the Walt Disney Company, with 22 percent of their employees majoring in the liberal arts. This is followed by the United Nations, U.S. Department of State, Google, Teach for America and the FBI.

Although you have probably heard the term “useless major” before, it is important to note that all majors have job prospects, although some are more lucrative than others. However, some evidence suggests that networking is the most essential way one can find a job after graduation. Choosing a major is never an easy decision, but by weighing the pros and cons of each major, as well as your priorities, you can find a major that is right for you.

nsabatini@willamette.edu

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