In 2012, forbes.com published a list of the 15 most valuable college majors. According to Forbes, a student’s major in college can either set them up for a lifetime career success and high earnings, or sink them into debt with very 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.”
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 3 years 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 can’t 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. All 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, when 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 vague predictions dictate his future; instead of depending on his major, he created his own company. A company that employs more than 4,000 people and has radically influenced modern relationship.
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. 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 redesign the interface of medical research.
An MBA in design strategy is a legit innovative focus of study and some of it’s graduate do rethink organizations. Look it up! 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?