How to Pick a Major and Not #Fail
Middle class wages have stagnated for over a decade and college graduate wages are falling, so you might as well ignore those “average” wage estimates schools provide you during freshmen orientation because those will change – and likely fall – before you graduate in 4 – 7 years. For example, I majored in Business. When I graduated in 2005, Business majors were expected to average around $50,000 at their first job. I made $18,000 at my first job after college. Sure, $18k is greater than $0 and “a job is a job,” but I couldn’t help but wonder why I invested over $50,000 in my college “education” to make less money than I made as a High School Junior working at IHOP. I don’t say that to scare you. I say that to point out that not everyone is going to meet or exceed the average. Someone has to fall below, in my case way below, the average and that someone might be you.
I ask that you keep this in mind when you’re balling out of control on school loan reimbursements at the club, car dealership, or at the mall with your college boo. You will have to pay that money back and you might not initially make the income you have in your imagination. Despite this reality, there is never a reason for your GPA to read like this in college.
Doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects and maybe three to four other majors aside, college will be fairly pointless for the majority of us. When’s the last time you were at work and thought to yourself, “Thank God I mastered the Pythagorean Theorem or I would never be able to complete this work assignment!” I doubt it was recently.
Most people will learn how to do their jobs through trial, error, and on the job experience. Still, many wouldn’t have even been able to get a job interview if we didn’t obtain that little piece of paper from that expensive institution we attended for 4 – 7 years. Does that mean we would have been any less equipped to successfully complete our jobs without a college degree? It’s hard to tell – and I guess we’ll never know. However, I’m fairly positive that for $50,000+ or less, we could have figured out how to do our jobs given 4 – 7 years to do so.
If your major doesn’t matter in the long run, then how do you pick one and not fail out of college like the almost 60 percent of people who begin and never graduate? I’ll happily enlighten you today. There are two secrets to mastering any college system in the known universe (or at least in America).
1) Study; and 2) Show up to class.
College is not that complicated. I’m amazed how many people go to college and don’t 1) study; and 2) show up, then wonder why they’re failing almost all of their classes. I’m not the smartest person in the world. I’m not even the smartest person on this website. I know plenty of people smarter than myself who should have graduated college, but they didn’t. Ninety-five percent of the time they failed to do one or both of aforementioned tips – study or show up.
In the end, I’m not for or against college. Hypocritically, I even plan on pursuing my Masters. However, I think college is the best worst plan for people who have no plan at all. If you’re an entrepreneur with a great idea like Facebook, come from a rich family, want to go into a branch of the military, want to take the chance at obtaining one of those six-figure-non-college-degree requiring jobs, or you simply don’t care about making a substantial (yet, not guaranteed) income in the future, then I honestly believe college will be nothing more than a complete waste of time and money for you. As with life, you will only get out what you put into college.
College is one of many paths to achieving your goals, but it is by no means the only path. Depending on your goals, it might not even be the best path. However, if the path you choose is routed through college, then I think the most important lesson you can learn is the one thing they never bother to teach you. You need to learn what you’re going to do after college while in college – and if you’re really smart, before you ever get to college. This was a lesson I had to learn on my own. It was very time consuming and very expensive. I don’t regret the experience, but I do wish I had learned it much sooner and much cheaper. It would have made my life a lot easier, but maybe life isn’t meant to be easy.
What are some informal lessons you learned from the college experience that you wish you knew sooner or that someone explained to you before you started? Let’s help others learn from our mistakes instead of suffering from them themselves.
A smart man learns from his mistakes. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others. – Latin Proverb
PS… Excuse all the hyperlinks. They’ve been made available to provide quick references for the college students among us.
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