In 2012, forbes.com published a list of the 15 most valuable college
majors. According to Forbes, a student¹s major in college can either
set them up for a lifetime career success and high earnings, or sink
them into debt with few avenues to get out of it.
A major can determine the likelihood of success or failure! What a
great message to send to stressed out college students and their
worried anxious parents. That list just stepped all over the phrase
most of us has been fed our whole life. “You can be anybody you want
to be.” Regardless of college major.
The dynamics of college life are so much more than just getting a
degree and finding a job. As a student at Howard University, I have
struggled with trying to figure my life out through the eyes of my
major. What I find interesting through my 3years of college so far is
that the phrase, “you can be anybody you want to be,” is coupled
with “it isn’t going to be easy, but you can do it.”
In the same year, forbes.com published another article: 60% of college
graduates can¹t find a job in their chosen fields of study.
Biomedical Engineering is the number one major pick in Forbes top 15
most valuable majors. Unfortunately, a recent forum on indeed.com
shows the exact opposite. The first 30 commentators of this forum were
recent biomedical engineering major graduates, some even at the PhD
level who could not find a job because they had no experience, even at
entry job levels. How valuable is a degree, no matter how esteemed it
seems, in which its graduates cannot find a job? It seems to me that
these “lists,” are propaganda.
In the same year, forbes.com also published a list of the top ten
least valuable college majors, one of which includes philosophy. Peter
Thiel, 1989 graduate of Stanford University with a degree in
philosophy, was the cofounder and CEO of PayPal. Judy McGrath, former
MTV chairwoman and CEO was an English major at Cedar Crest College,
another major deemed least valuable of forbes.com list of invaluable
majors in 2012. These people did not let their major define them or
limit them, they found their own path. Mark Zuckerberg, an
entrepreneur in his own right was a psychology major at Harvard
University who then dropped out to establish Facebook.com. He did not
let his major decide his fate; instead of depending on his major, he
created his own job, a job that employs more than 4,000 people.
Instead of forbes.com and other influential media outlets shoving
majors down our throats, why aren’t we encouraged to pave our own
way as entrepreneurs? We aren’t encouraged to follow our hearts, to
be innovators and inventors.
Everyone is required to declare a major before they graduate, usually
by the end of sophomore year. What they forgot to tell us is that our
majors do not define us. They do not confine us to this narrow scope
of opportunity in the form of jobs, and internships. Many of us miss
out on so many opportunities because we confine ourselves.
No one thought to mention that it’s okay to graduate with a degree
in graphic design and go into the medical field. For all we know, that
graphic design student may create an invention that may open our
medical research to new heights and levels that we never reached
before. Medical graphic design is a real career path that will always
be looking for new and innovative designers, by the way. Matt
Mullenweg was a political science major at the University of Houston
when he dropped out in 2004 where he founded his business Automatic,
the business behind WordPress.com. He developed a free and open source
web software that powers 16% of the entire web. Political Science
major to web designer, who saw that coming? He is worth about
$40million and he is under the age of 30.
Instead of searching for a job upon graduation, maybe more of us will
create our own paths. We can pave our own way, create our own career,
market ourselves in a way that no major can, that no concentration
can. We fall into the trap of our educational system. It was created
to breed workers not entrepreneurs. As one of the founding members of
America’s standardized educational system said about the Institution
of Education, “I want a nation of workers, not thinkers…” Will
you be a worker or a thinker?