Something that was always a topic of concern/confusion for me in high school was my choice of college major. With so many options and a quick turnaround time between high school and college, there’s a lot of pressure to make a choice – a choice that potentially impacts the rest of your life. Sounds simple, eh? Luckily, there’s some good news for you younger folks considering a college major.
At least at first, your major is not that important. Your major won’t impact your career prospects after two months in class or even two semesters. It is a common misconception that you are “locked in” with a particular major from beginning to end. In today’s post, we will break down some of those numbers.
To start, let me share my story of the high school days and eventual college hunting.
My time in high school was comprised of sports and classes, not a whole lot else. I played basketball, baseball, and even football for a year. Nashua High was a large school of about 2,400 students at the time. I was an above-average student but nowhere near the top of the class.
More importantly, looking at colleges was a daunting task for me. I had a ton of interests but no real direction for where I was headed. For me, applying to schools centered around “do they have a business school?”
After sending out my applications, I was lucky enough to get into Northeastern’s business school. I loved Boston and was excited to take a leap from New Hampshire and go to school in the city.
The fact is, I had no clue what my major should be at the time. I settled on accounting, just so I could get my start in business school. I didn’t even like math.
The First Year is All Relative
Something that I didn’t know going in, and wish someone told me: Year one at college is super straightforward with the curriculum. This won’t be true at every school, but more often than not it will be. I spent the first year taking nothing but core classes required for EVERY business student at the school. Economics, Intro to Business, Workplace Ethics, you name it.
Year one would’ve been the same experience for me whether I was doing accounting or entrepreneurship. I even took some of the same core classes as engineers and art students. Year one was much more about adjusting to the college life than honing my accounting skills.
All of this summed up: Let year one be the foundation to establish likes/dislikes in the educational realm and go forward from there. Don’t think that your decision in high school has such a big impact.
Personally, I found out that accounting wasn’t going to be my cup of tea and switched to “Entrepreneurship” at the end of year one. At the end of my second year, when it came time to select core major classes for the second half of college, I switched again! I moved to “Finance” because the financial markets were something I enjoyed following. My degree is in finance, but my day-to-day role in the software field is totally unrelated to finance.
See what I’m getting at here?
Switching Majors – More Common Than You Think
The most daunting part of choosing a college major is making such a big choice while still in high school. We think, “what are the long-term implications of choosing my major?” We don’t want a decision we make at age 17 to negatively impact the rest of our lives!
A recent study by the Institute of Education Sciences revealed that 33% of students switch majors during college. It happens a lot more often than you think!
I believe it’s important to realize the balance between the choice of a college major and the long-term effects it will have on you. I’d argue it is more important to find a school that is a good fit for you location wise and people wise. After that, figuring out the right major takes priority. At the end of the day, getting a degree is most important of all. You have the ability to launch a career in so many directions with that piece of paper. Which direction you move in isn’t always a direct correlation to that paper. For me, it was two major changes, a degree in finance, and no a job in software/technology sales.
Where Do You See Yourself?
The college experience and my time at Northeastern was an invaluable career and life changer. Stepping onto campus in 2009 as an accounting major has nothing to do with where I’m at today. The same can be true in your own college search and experience too.
Remember that the major can be changed, the college can be changed, and don’t stress out about it in high school. At the end of the day, it’s about what you choose to do with your overall college experience that dictates your future career trajectory. Two people in the same college/school major can have radically different experiences after graduation. It’s on YOU to put in the work!
Pick a school that’s a good fit for you from a location, social, and financial standpoint. It’s only onwards and upwards from there.
All opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of Home at 30 and are in no way affiliated with any other organization or institution. The purpose of this blog is to give general education and information about investing, wealth, careers, and college; It is not intended to be professional advice.
Author: Joe Savoia
Joe is a 2014 graduate of Northeastern University and currently works in a field sales role for technology company Acquia. He has worked internationally as one of Acquia’s earliest Australia-based employees and helped in the early stages to develop that region. Today Joe is based out of Boston and lives in Somerville, MA. Joe’s primary interests vary widely, including everything from robotics/AI to finance, blockchain, and the rapidly evolving world of tech we live in.