So You Chose the Wrong Major: What Now?

Posted December 19, 2013 by
A frustrated student surrounded by books

A frustrated student surrounded by books. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

“What if I just spent four years working for an expensive degree that I’ll never use? I’m not even sure my major will help me land a job or—if it does—that I’ll enjoy the job.”

This is one of the most common questions amongst new and recent graduates. And while we would love to dismiss these thoughts as meaningless, giddy new-grad jitters, we can’t. This scenario is not only possible, it’s actually quite common. The major you’ve chosen and the degree you’ve earned are going to be with you for the rest of your life.

Here’s how to face the possibility that you made the “wrong” choice, and then move forward with confidence, calm, and a clear sense of direction.

A Bachelor’s Degree Is Always Valuable

Here’s a weird truth about a four year degree from any accredited, respected university: It always has value, regardless of your specific course of study. Every day, young people step into the field of finance, medicine, and the arts with degrees in engineering, marketing, education, and agriculture. If you’d like to step off course and apply for an unrelated position, don’t be afraid. Just be ready to explain to employers why you’d like to make the switch.

Give the Job a Shot before You Decide

If you think you won’t like working in your degree field, or you think you won’t find a job, or you think your industry won’t provide stability over the long term, make sure your decision is fully informed. A twenty-two year old graduate isn’t committing any crimes by stepping into a position she only intends to keep for a year. This might be the most informative year of your life, no matter what happens during this time.

Don’t Expect to Find Perfect Happiness Right Away

Your internship—or your first year on the job—might not be the most comfortable year you’ve ever experienced. You may not get the respect, the pay, the responsibility, or the promotions you thought you’d step into right away. But this isn’t necessarily a disaster. And being told you aren’t perfect hurts, but it doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong place or your plans were misguided. And it certainly doesn’t mean your degree was a mistake. It just means you need a little patience and perseverance in order to make it to the next stage.

Know When It’s Time to Bail

Even if your first experience in the field is a little rough, or varies from what you expected, don’t give up. Until it’s time to give up. If you truly feel you’re in the wrong place, don’t let years of your life go by hoping for things to magically change. There’s nothing wrong with saying enough is enough and starting over. Make a lateral move to another department within your company, or head back to the drawing board and start applying for work in another industry altogether. Remember: You are the writer of your own life story, and it’s never too late to revise.

LiveCareer (, home to America’s #1 Resume Builder, connects job seekers of all experience levels and career categories to all the tools, resources and insider tips needed to win the job. Find LiveCareer on Youtube and visit LiveCareer’s Google+ page for even more tips and advice on all things career and resume-related.

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