Why Your Major Doesn’t Matter

college-majorWhile I am far removed from my college days, I still have not found that niche of what I’m going to do with my life. I’ve held different jobs every couple years and while I’ve loved most of my jobs, life circumstances have required something or other that has not been compatible with them.

Sometimes I find myself getting anxious about what I’m going to do with my life. I have so many grand ideas in my head. I want to open a store on Etsy and throw myself into that. I want to open up a coffee shop. I want to open a baby store. I want to be a doula. I want to run a community center that focuses on parents. I want to run cooking camps for teens. I have a million ideas, but what should I actually do? What should I stick with?

I think about my major in college and I cringe slightly for not “putting it to use.” Then I quickly shake myself out of this as I remember a girl I met my freshman year of college. I told her I wanted to major in sociology to be a social worker. She shot back, “Ugh, my mom would kill me if she paid for my education here just so I could do that.” As if the amount of money you put into college should be equally reciprocated in your paycheck after college.

In hindsight, the idea that you need to find a job that “uses” your major is somewhat pointless. I ended up with a major in Theology and a minor in Peace Studies and a second minor in the Sociology of Education. I’ll pause so you can make the same crack I always get about my employability. But what I’ve come to realize is that the classes I took in college shaped the kind of adult I became. Every class made me feel like I was becoming more of myself. Every class helped me discover what truly made me feel fulfilled.

College is a very formative time. It’s where we learn how to be adults. It’s where we are really tested. Where our understanding of right and wrong is constantly being pelted with rocks by the outside world. For the first time we have to make decisions that really will impact the rest of our lives. So in college it is important to surround ourselves with people and classes that are going to make us the best of ourselves. At the same time, though, usually what we think will become the rest of our lives does not end up happening. Usually what most fulfills us in life is something that maybe we didn’t even know existed in college.

Geoffrey Keating is no stranger to a complete change in career direction. He was at Notre Dame working on his Ph.D. in Theology for almost a decade. Then he made the life-changing decision to become a carpenter. He had a natural gift for it and when he was working on his coursework all he could think of was going back home to work on the piece he was making at the time.

Some people might say that his schooling was a total waste of time. But all that schooling made him the kind of person he is today. I’m sure if you asked him he would say that what he studied all those years is completely relevant to what he is doing today. All that he learned up until he made the decision taught him to reflect and be open to his soul pulling him in another direction. Without all that schooling, the world would probably be missing out on an absolutely amazing artist.

I also think about the Hortons whose lives changed after many years of working in academia when they gave birth to a beautiful baby girl with Down syndrome. This led them to start Down Home Ranch, a truly inspiring place where people with Down syndrome can live meaningful and fruitful adult lives.

At the end of the day, I have to calm myself down. I’m doing what I think I should be doing. Brandon and I talk about where we’re headed in life and consistently refocus ourselves. We have an idea of what our path should be but we’re always open to God changing it, which happens often. Maybe I’m not directly “using” my major but I am leading a life that I didn’t know to hope for in college.