You Are Not Your Degree: Why Your Major Doesn't Define What Your Future Holds

by Nicole Simmons

While everyone else in my high school senior class was stressing out about college applications and acceptance letters, I was doing the opposite. By opposite, I mean that I announced to my parents that I had zero interest in continuing my education by going to college.

This resulted in a months-long battle that included cheap shots and statements that I thought were clever but ended up having an opposite effect: tears… lots and lots of tears.

I have nothing against college; it sounded like a fun time and I was happy to witness many of my friends receive their acceptance letters to their dream schools. I just didn’t believe it was for me.

The whole school experience didn’t mesh well with me and I wasn’t up for four more years of sitting in cold classrooms filled with empty stares, learning about something that would only apply to my life for about 18 weeks.

Also, while some people knew exactly what their majors would be from the moment they were born, I had zero leads. I felt like I would be going to college just for the experience, and that sounded like a waste of my parent’s money.

The battle was over by mid May when I finally decided to go for an associate’s degree at the local community college. I ended up loving college, stayed for four-and-a-half years instead of just two and received my bachelor’s degree.

College was one of the best experiences of my life and I’m so glad I changed my mind and went for it. However, after all of my time there, I never found the perfect major.

I picked my major because it sounded cool (and because I was running out of options). Although the classes were enjoyable and I learned a lot of interesting material while meeting some great people, I never felt truly attached to the subject.

When asked where I saw myself in five years, doing something in my field didn't seem to fit the picture I was drawing in my head. This internal struggle came full circle a couple of months after graduation when I started to look for jobs. However, the feeling that I didn't belong in the field that I studied for years haunted me.

It wasn't until I got my first piece of writing published that the feeling finally subsided. I figured out that the one thing I saw myself doing five years from now had little to do with my degree.

After freaking out a little about wasting thousands of dollars on something I was afraid I wasn't ever going to use, I came to the conclusion that a degree is simply a piece of paper that has the ability to get you noticed and to open doors.

You're not married to your degree; there won't be any hard feelings if you decide to take a different path than the one you paved in school.

Overall, college taught me more than I could have ever imagined; it was totally worth it.

The notion that you have a better chance at winning the lottery than finding the one applies to majors of study, too. There’s only a small chance that you'll find the perfect major for you in just four years.

The majority of people often find themselves like me, studying something they don’t particularly enjoy but moving forward in it simply because they need to graduate with a degree.

If this is you, the best advice I can offer is to create a list of every single possible career path you would potentially pursue, regardless of whether it matches your degree or not.

Include the things you find yourself doing in your spare time. Don't limit yourself. Remember, the degree helps you open the doors of opportunity. It's the journey on which you decide to embark that matters.