By Brittany Greve
From the time that we are kids, we are asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Answers range from a princess to a fireman to a police officer. However, as we get older those answers often align with careers that are profitable. If you say that you want to be a doctor, people praise you for your ability to be “reasonable” and land upon a career that will make you enough money to be happy. But, if you were to say something like anthropology, your uncle, parents and other family, will most likely ask: “What are you going to do with that?” Some parents are unwilling to pay for a degree in something they feel is not profitable.
Such responses are based on the premise that choosing a major amounts to choosing a career path, and thus a particular financial future, a degree of security, a lifestyle, an entire identity. But as I’ve come to know, trying to major in something that you’re not truly passionate about will only make you miserable. There have been scientific studies done that show that the amount of money you earn has no correlation to job satisfaction. In other words, money won’t buy you happiness.
Graduates majoring in “practical” majors may well start at higher salaries than their counterparts in, say, comparative literature or art history. But as Derek Bok said in Our Underachieving Colleges, we should look at how graduates fare 15 years down the road. Often it is the philosophers and anthropology majors, for example, who, having marshaled the abilities of perspective, breadth, creativity and analysis, have moved a company, project or vision forward. You can easily search “Why should I major in something I like,” and you will find endless amounts of articles with scientific research as to why you must major in something that interests you.
As a transfer student here at Drew, the pressure was on as soon as I walked on campus. I had to pick a major and plan out my next three years in a practical manner. While I first picked the major that I thought would assure me a job afterwards, business, I remembered I hate math, and I soon understood that I would not prosper from being in classes that I just didn’t enjoy. After possibly eight or nine class changes, I noticed that I loved my ethics class, and so I decided to take a few more philosophy classes. Now, I’m at a point where I can proudly say that I’m a philosophy major, and though I don’t necessarily have a clear idea of what I’ll do after college, I know that I’ll have the abilities that jobs are looking for college graduates to have.
By releasing students from the pressure of the practical major and allowing them to study what they are sincerely interested in, we allow them to become smarter, more creative and more able. Having a genuine interest in something can’t be faked and it’s the surest way to succeed. As Steve Jobs famously said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” So go ahead, major in that one thing that you’ve always loved to do, and most importantly, don’t feel guilty for putting yourself and your passion first.
Brittany is a sophomore Philosophy major and Italian minor.
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