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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Questions to ask other than, “What are you going to do with that major?”


As college students, our majors are closely tied to our identities, whether we like to admit it or not. 

It’s always questioned within the first few minutes of meeting another student and tends to come with the usual expressions. There’s the dreaded tilt of the head, the confused furrow of brows or maybe the arrogant shift in the eyes affirming their superiority over you. All of this comes before the question: 

“Well, what are you going to do with that?” 


As a former English major, I understand the judgment that can spew from this conversation all too well. 

It’s a judgment that’s centered around non-STEM majors and their alleged limited ability to find a job or make a decent salary after college. Engineering and nursing majors never get questioned. There’s a common understanding that they’ll struggle in college and find a job once they graduate, but in this day and age, you’d be ignorant to believe that anything is guaranteed. 

It’s not about what major you pursue right now, it’s what you do with it.

Non-STEM majors often teach students how to communicate and formulate an argument, instead of regurgitating the same thought as the one read off the internet. There is not a straight, predetermined path toward your future: you’re the one who gets to design it.

Students with history majors may be coordinating ground-breaking studies that will push their careers forward. English majors may end up completing studies for the government. In some cases, humanities majors can have more credentials on their resumes than STEM majors.  

According to LinkedIn’s research, the most desired “soft-skills” in 2019 were creativity and persuasion, both of which are at the center of many humanities degrees. Additionally, a 2015 study concluded that medical students with a humanities degree have more positive skills like empathy in their practice.

Ask some questions before you jump to judge someone’s major. At a high-ranking university like UF, they’re all going to have their challenges. Financial accounting is rough. Fine arts majors put in way more time and dedication than the number of credit hours they sign up for.          

Instead of just asking someone, “What are you going to do with that?” try asking someone, “Why did you choose that major?” The answers you’ll receive will be immensely more interesting and demonstrative of the person’s character. 

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In fact, when passion spills from one’s lips, the major doesn’t matter. It’s not always about what type of major one has. It’s how one uses it. It’s what skills one garners from the curriculum and how one pitches oneself afterward.

You could also ask someone what they like about their major. When it comes to your bachelor’s degree, the major is not as important. According to The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, only about a quarter of college graduates with jobs that require a bachelor’s degree are working in a job related to their major.  

At the end of the day, have respect for the major people choose. The only thing you might be able to judge is their reasoning behind it. And at the very least, please try to hide your judgment when asking: “What are you going to do with that?” 

Following in another’s footsteps might not let you see the paths best suited to you.

Lauren Rousseau is UF journalism sophomore.

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