Majors & Careers
Choosing the Right Major For the Life You Want
It's a smart question to ask yourself when choosing a major. Unfortunately, what most students mean when they ask this question is, "What job is this major going to get me?" It's unfortunate because as the above graphic illustrates, most employers aren't that concerned with your major. So if you choose a major based what you think employers will think of it four years from now, you're turning your back on an opportunity to choose a major that is right for YOU.
But, if what you mean is "How is this major going to improve my life?", that's a good question. Because the education that you gain in college shouldn't just be so that you can be a good employee someday; it should make your entire life better. Your education should be for you more than it's for some future employer.
A Liberal Arts major will enhance your knowledge and improve your understanding of the world and its people. Many say that knowledge leads to wise action, perhaps even to goodness. Thus, a Liberal Arts education may help you to perceive and to understand your shortcomings, allowing you to become a better citizen, friend, spouse, parent, human being.
In addition, your major may enhance your lifelong hobbies like reading, watching movies, travel, weather, politics and more. For example, when a biology major takes her family to the zoo, they may have a much better experience than say, a business major. A history major traveling to France has the potential for a much richer experience because of what he or she learned in classes.
Liberal Arts courses often enable students to reach beyond their own experiences and imagine worlds far distant in time and space. By opening your eyes, ears and mind, a good Liberal Arts education can strengthen in you the virtues of tolerance, sympathy, and respect for others. A Liberal Arts education will equip you to participate effectively in your community. It can also help you to engage in the controversies of our time--whether about the environment, cultural diversity, social justice, ethnic strife, gender relations or foreign policy.
As the graphic above illustrates, employers are more interested in your knowledge and skills than they are in your specific major. That's good news for Liberal Arts majors, because you'll gain a variety of timeless skills that employers will need, regardless of the ebb and flow of the "newest and hottest" jobs:
- Analytical and knowledge-building skills
- Evaluative and critical thinking skills
- Creative thinking skills
- Effective oral and written communication skills
- Critical and reflective reading skills
- Problem solving and pattern intelligence skills
- Numerical skills
- Synthesis skills and the ability to express the results of analysis and evaluation
- Ability to pose meaningful questions that advance understanding and knowledge
- Ability to conduct research and organize material effectively
- Information literacy and other skills associated with learning how to learn
- Independent judgment and ethical decision-making
- Ability to meet goals, manage time, and complete a project successfully
- Self-confidence and self-understanding
- Ability to cooperate with others and work in teams
- Sensitivity to individuals and tolerance of cultural differences
- Ability to use sensitive and technical equipment
- Informed openness to new information technologies
Because an undergraduate degree on its own doesn't land many jobs anymore, we encourage our students to add to their degree with complementary minors and internships that add breadth and diversity to their education and résumé.
Employers we've polled have told us that they are willing to hire any of our majors, but that it’s helpful for students to have a minor or internship that ties their education and interests to a particular career field or industry. Our advisors can help students be thoughtful about the majors, minors and internships they pursue to help make their education enjoyable, interesting and productive.