Choosing A Major: Striking the Balance Between Inspiration and Reality

Your major choice should be what interests you – with a backup plan

I had always been intrigued by the thought of being a journalist. Holding people accountable and asking a lot of questions were second nature to me, and I had been writing for newspapers since I was 14, so choosing journalism as my major choice seemed like a natural next step once I started college.

However, as many journalism students know, the job market for media is not great (and neither is the pay once you land a job).

Worried about graduating college and not being able to find a job, I brought this up to my mom. She responded with a simple, “do what you love, and the money will follow.”

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My mother is the smartest woman I know, so when she said this I jumped in head first. I majored in journalism, started writing for the campus newspaper, worked for the college TV station for a period of time, and completed some internships along the way. I loved every second of it.

My mom’s advice wasn’t necessarily bad – but it was definitely wrong. That’s not to say her advice didn’t come from a good place. She had never had the chance to go to college or truly pursue her professional dreams, and she wanted me to love the career I chose.

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Unfortunately, reality hit when I entered my senior year. I had no backup plan in case my big dreams of becoming a professional journalist didn’t work out.

I’m not saying to discourage your child from following their lifelong dream with their major choice. However, keep in mind that college is an investment, and you should be realistic with them about the result. If someone is an English major, their job prospects and starting salary will be far lower than someone who chose engineering as their path.

That’s not to say they shouldn’t major in English. Maybe encourage them to get a minor in technical writing, or some other skill that they may not love as much as their main passion, but that they can fall back on while pursuing their dreams.

So, when your child goes off to college, embolden to follow their dreams fearlessly. That’s what college is for. Just make sure that when they graduate, they will have something to show for their four years of hard work.

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