A Major Fear of Majors

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I never wanted to get branded as the chemistry guy, or the journalism dude or the economics guru. From my pre-college view, getting pigeonholed into any one of these paths would seal my eternal fate through adulthood. I’d be placing all my eggs into a very specific basket.

Fearful of committing to any one major–and obviously a lifelong career path–I thought I’d just become a combination of the three.

What in the world would that look like? I could report on my own chemical breakthroughs, which would obviously dramatically impact the economy. In this scenario, college would spit me out as a true renaissance man.

Like a bad sleep, I tossed and turned on my majors even before freshman year began. I applied as chemistry, immediately switched to communications and then switched again to economics. Of course, I disliked economics by the end of the fall semester and went on to drop it.

For the rest of freshman year and all of sophomore year, I acted as a free agent: an undecided miscreant who sampled an array of classes, getting a taste for what I did and didn’t like. Economics tasted a bit bland. Psychology made me queasy. Biology is certainly an acquired taste.

Every college student says they know what degrees they want and where those degrees will take them, but how many really know?

When it came to college application I felt like I was blindly throwing darts. (Dangerous, I know.) On some applications I checked off communications, others journalism, and on some chemistry. I didn’t know what to study in college, but I assumed at the very least that university admissions offices wanted a student who was heading in some direction.

Even as a senior in college I still question whether my compass works, or if for the past three years I’ve just been walking around lost. Did I study the right thing—English? Did I truly follow what I’m passionate about? Should I have considered the stats on which degrees rake in the most cash? I often wonder how college would have gone differently if I’d studied history, accounting or computer science.

With each major there’s so much to consider: starting salary, personal interest level, difficulty. At this point, I’ve accepted that studying English–whether it makes me Mr. Moneybags or not–fits my own criteria, and I’m okay with that. I’ve got to be, or else I’ll continue to live in fear of those dreaded college majors.

Nick is a senior English major at Boston College. The three ways to his heart are Survivor, the Baltimore Orioles and Zac Brown Band.

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