Fact: While it is true that certain majors such as engineering and computer science prepare students for fairly specific career fields, a far greater number of majors do not have a direct correlation with given career areas. Humanities students often find that they have a wide variety of career options because they develop skills that are transferable to many fields. Even within the technical or professional majors, where specific job skills are taught, there are many different kinds of jobs from which to choose. A study conducted by the College Placement Council revealed that the majority of college graduates are successfully employed in fields not directly related to their academic majors. So choose a major you enjoy and you'll do well in it.
Fact: Selecting a major or pursuing a career just because it's hot can be dangerous. It might turn out that you enjoy neither the courses you take now, nor the job you get later. The careers in demand when you are a freshman or sophomore may not be in demand by the time you graduate. Job market demand moves in cycles. New career fields and jobs emerge every year as a result of changes in public policy, technology, and economic trends. Therefore, you are on much firmer ground when you select a major or a career goal that genuinely interests you.
Myth #3: You must take specific undergraduate majors in order to get into law school, medical school, or business school.
Fact: While some professional schools require or recommend the completion of certain academic prerequisites, in most cases no specific major is required. In other instances, only broad skills are sought, e.g., the ability to read and write well and to think critically. In short, you may major in any of a wide variety of academic fields and go to various professional schools. Humanities majors, for example, have higher acceptance rates to medical schools than do biology majors. For additional information, please go to the Health Professions web site. “I can think of no better preparation for law school than a rigorous, mentally challenging major in the Humanities. The law is, at root, about the analysis and solving of the problems of humanity and civilization. Without any understanding of these, the lawyer is nothing more than a technician.” John F. Dobbyn, Professor, Villanova Law School. For additional information, please go to the Law School web site.
Fact: Humanities graduates develop skills that are highly valued by employers and that are applicable to a wide variety of professional jobs. In a longitudinal study conducted at AT&T, employees with either a humanities or social sciences background were found to be stronger than engineering majors and similar to business majors in administrative skills and motivation for advancement. Furthermore, graduates from these areas demonstrated the strongest interpersonal skills. Although humanities graduates sometimes take more time finding a "niche" in the working world, it's usually because they don't know what they can or want to do or they are not aware of the options available to them.
Myth #5: There is little that can be done beyond coursework in your major to improve your chances of career success.
Fact: Many students today get their first jobs not as the result of their major, but because of their internships. Supplementary courses and independent study projects can be helpful. Important experience can also be gained and skills developed through student organizations, athletics, social groups, student government, summer and part-time jobs, and volunteer activities. Such experiences play an important role in developing skills, gaining a greater understanding of yourself and the world of work, and establishing professional contacts, which are crucial to successful career growth.
Myth #6: Your first job will determine your career. Therefore, you'd better be completely sure of your choice when making an academic or career decision.
Fact: In any decision involving competing choices where each possibility has its own advantages and disadvantages, there is rarely 100% certainty. Any choice involves some risk. But don’t think that you cannot change your mind. In the area of career choice especially, you are always free to explore new directions and to make new choices as you learn more about yourself and various careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average person will change careers three times in the course of a lifetime.