How (Un)Important Your Major Is

No you are not a failure if you're in college and still do not know what to study.

Disclaimer: Engineering, Architecture, Pre-med and Computer Science Majors: turn back now. This article isn’t for you.

For those of you remaining, or for the aforementioned majors who consider themselves too badass to turn away, you’re either artsy, indecisive or vague. These are the stereotypes assigned to the majority of liberal arts majors nowadays. Our PVA students are wasting their time (and money) on a useless degree, our HUSS students are the reason why Egyptians complain all the time, and our BEC students are overachievers.

To those of us in those majors, the overplayed and inaccurate statements that float through the air every day whilst you walk to class no longer sting the way they used to. You know why you chose your major and you don’t have to answer to anyone (except your parents. You’re still working on that). If you did feel the need to approach the SSE students with your defense of your less than practical major, you are armed with a plethora of well researched and organised points to prove yourself. Your major is awesome. We know.

Although, at the end of the day, why is it that we spend 90% of our allotted complaining time about our major? Why are freshmen assaulted by overeager advisers and associations? Why are there more workshops about picking your major then about how to write a CV, land an internship, and do well in interviews? Most importantly, why do we try so hard to declare a specific major, almost destroying ourselves in the process? (Yes, business students, I do mean you.)

Perhaps the reason why we put so much importance in our choice of major is because we want to validate the reason we’re spending a quarter of a million pounds every semester on tuition. Maybe we want to prove to ourselves that we’re actually learning instead of just taking film courses because they’re fun. Maybe we like the challenge, or maybe we’re simply passionate about something and want to devote all our time and energy to it.

Disregarding the majors I mentioned in the beginning of this article, though, the truth is that your major isn’t as important as you think it is. Only 27%¹ of college graduates in the US are working in a job that is only slightly related to their major. It is considered a well known fact in Egypt that your degree really, really doesn’t matter. Your Uber driver has an engineering degree, your accountant went to law school, and your little sister’s primary school teacher has a PhD in physics. Obviously certain fields offer better pay, like medicine, dentistry or engineering, but there are so many people out there with those majors that it’s unlikely you’ll get a job in those fields anyway!

Your degree is the prerequisite required to be hired for an entry level job that will most likely have little to do with what you want anyway. You just have to be old enough. You have to prove that you can learn and that you know how to interact with people. To work in a corporate firm as a manager, it is guaranteed that they’ll pay more attention to your internships as well as jobs throughout the business world than they will to the fact that you majored film and minored psychology. Really. No one cares. 

The point is, choosing a major isn’t important because it’ll give you greater opportunities in life, or because it’ll make you that perfect student who’s checking all the boxes and is going to make their family proud. Choosing a major is important because you’re gonna stick to it. You’re gonna deal with the declaration requirements, the professors, and the sometimes difficult courses. It has to be something you like. It has to be something you want to do, because the only thing worse than trying to declare business, economics or God forbid graphic design is trying to do it without actually wanting to.

To our freshmen, possibly sophomores, and to the few juniors who still don’t know what they’re doing: just pick something. Anything. You can change it later, you can do a different Bachelors, you can go back and redo your A levels if you want to get into med school. You can decide when you’re 40 that your passion is being an artist and go back to university to study visual arts. We’re young and we’re in a privileged position: we have a choice. Do what makes you happy.

As long as it isn’t mechanical engineering. I’ve been told that it can destroy you.