At the major declaration ceremony, the projector displayed alumni’s class years, majors, and jobs alongside their faces. Colored, department-specific flyers, handed out with department-specific picture frames, advertised the careers of UR alumni. These seemed like reassurances: Yes, your major can get you a job.

Our majors comprise part of our identities as college students. Almost invariably, we name our majors when introducing ourselves, frequently attribute certain traits to certain majors, and bond with others in the same field. A major declaration warrants celebration.

Yet we are often encouraged to view majors as the first stepping stone towards a career or as a deciding factor of our future income. Articles list the college majors begetting the highest starting salaries, the majors yielding the best return on your investment, and, subsequently, the majors linked to lesser financial success.

And, at least in my experience, it’s clear that these figures, or the associated stereotypes, have permeated student consciousness. Hallmates joked that my freshman roommate, then an English major, would be jobless and penniless. Some other English majors make light of their major’s value on the job market.

Choosing a major feels like a major decision, one that in overdramatic imaginings determines whether we chain ourselves to a miserable job or to miserable joblessness. But this fear, and the emphasis on the “worth” of a major, could encourage a bloodlessly pragmatic and misleading approach to deciding or valuing your major.

It’s contradictory. The prominence of our majors to our lives as students and the pressure of job security can make our majors seem crucial, tantamount to future success. Yet some anecdotes tell us that majors matter less than experience, that what we learn as undergraduates ultimately matters little, that we will learn and adapt with our careers as necessary.

Additionally, for all the articles listing the earnings associated with certain majors, there may be a far greater number (according to the number of Google search results, at least) telling us why majors don’t matter or why they matter less than we think they do. Though you should not entirely discard practical considerations, your passion for a major and the personal growth that it allows them should hold at least the same weight, if not more.

To those uncertain about their major, like myself during freshman year, some students appear passionate about and certain in their major to an enviable degree. Many students majoring in computer science (CS), for instance, work as teaching assistants for multiple CS classes, tutor students in CS, work on and read about CS in their spare time, and more.

Their apparent dedication seems like the ideal way to feel about a major, because it seems as though they love what they do.



The Clothesline Project gives a voice to the unheard

The Clothesline Project was started in 1990 when founder Carol Chichetto hung a clothesline with 31 shirts designed by survivors of domestic abuse, rape, and childhood sexual assault.

Dinner for Peace was an unconventional way of protesting for Palestine

The dinner showcased aspects of Palestinian culture. It was a unique way of protesting against the genocide, against the Israeli occupation, against the university’s involvement with the genocide.

Zumba in medicine, the unexpected crossover

Each year at URMC, a new cohort of unsuspecting pediatrics residents get a crash course. “There are no mistakes in Zumba,” Gellin says.