Rethinking the College Major
College Majors are something that almost everyone, at some point, is going to have to deal with. In order to find a job, go to graduate or professional school, or be able to truly understand a subject everyone is told to get a Major that they like. All too many times though a major isn’t the best fit for everyone, and I believe that Majors are the reason people find college all too difficult. In my opinion, here are five reasons why Majors should be an opinion not a necessity in college.
The Major is restrictive. How many times has someone told you, “I’m a Physics Major, why would I know where the Economics building is,” or anything similar to that? The idea of being forced into one subset of studies or one department is unfair and kind of wrong. I’m not saying that everyone hates the idea of only studying one thing, but life is never about simply one thing. Life throws many different curve balls, and the only way to know how to hit them is to get up and try to learn how they’re thrown. The Major forces a student into one section of a college places them with students of just that major and inhibits the creative flow of a student.
One Major…One Life Path. This idea that someone at eighteen is able to decide on something that is going to dictate the rest of their lives is unreasonable. Really how many people are ready at 18 to say that for the next 20 years I’m going to be a banker or writer. The only way that you truly are able to explore what you want to do is by looking at all the departments and understanding all sorts of different paths that you have to choose from. Side note, some may say this is what the general education portion of college is supposed to be filled with, but even now most of the GE requirements have something to do with the Major you will declare.
The Major is the opposite of what life is all about. When you go out into the world, beyond the halls of college, there will almost never be a moment where you must choose one thing that will decide the course of your entire life, and if you choose wrong you spend years fixing it. (Obviously, some life decisions have lasting effects, but at that time you’ve had years to live with a job, house, or kids and understand the differences between options). The Major is something that makes you choose within one year what you want with the rest of life and at very few points in life is it just one hit or bust. This pressure of decisions in life already makes students have trouble keeping up, but now they must decide whether they want to do job A or B with a preverbal gun to their heads.
Creativity does not equal a Major. The Major is not about allowing your creative juices to flow. Our bodies love to adapt and like our bodies, our brains love to find the shortest routes to the solutions. The Major allows for just that type of adaptation to happen within our brain. Our brains over the course of semester learn the basics of the subject and use those things to help us not think about things like a puzzle, but more like a maze that we want to exit quickly.
The Circle of Friends you make. This one is by far the easiest one to fix with the major, but then again many people have trouble even doing this. The classes you take and things you do almost always revolve around the Major that you have chosen, and thus it is easy to get a group of friends and almost always stick with whatever they are doing. This forces you to make and keep friends that all only do one thing, talk about one general idea, and think in the same terms that you think. This restricts your ability to come up with ideas, learn new things, and work towards new ways of thinking.
So, what can we do about a system that is not going anywhere anytime soon? Well, I would advocate that in order to fix the Major we just have to want to fix the issue. First, we need to understand that the Major is an issue that has some bad side effects, and then we have to combat them. Instead of taking the elective or clubs that go along with your group or Major take the courses that have nothing to do with what you want to learn. I took Sciences courses for my Major and Business courses for fun. I took Nutrition one semester, Econ. another semester, and TV as a medium for another, and this allowed me to expand my reach of friends, contacts, and think differently than others that occupied the lecture of halls of the Science department.
Thus these are the five reasons I believe that we should diversify the classes we take, think about new ways to look at college and work to look beyond the one thing that we have decided to study.