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Narrow or Broad Majors?

Most of the people who are reading this article probably already know their major, their career, and possibly even their ten-year plan. After all, we millennials are notorious for our extensive planning skills, and desire to know everything right now. But life isn’t always so clearly defined and black-and-white. In fact, there are a great deal of people who may not know what they want to major in or might even be thinking of switching their majors. Sure, most of these people are underclassmen, but this is also applicable to juniors and seniors who are undeclared or considering changing their mind. It is not the end of the world – I’ve switched my major three times and I think I’m doing alright, despite the fact that I’m graduating a year late.

Deciding what you want to study in college requires some serious thought. One of the most important things to decide when choosing a major is whether to go broad or narrow. By that, I mean, should you pick a broad major, such as Psychology or a narrow, more specialized one, such as Biochemistry? Broad majors offer the benefit of being able to study a wide range of topics. You don’t have to settle on studying one specific thing for four years and face potential burnout and disinterest from constantly reading about the same topic. You gain a plethora of skills and general knowledge, which opens up a wider range of jobs and careers for you. The broad majors would be the “typical” majors such as Business, History, English, or Communications. But while there are more jobs available, there is also more competition. Broad majors are more popular than narrow ones, and since more people choose these majors, there is increased competition for a limited number of positions. Unfortunately, in today’s economy, there just are not enough jobs in every career for every person that needs one. People often end up unemployed for a period of time, or are forced to start at lower-level positions. Internships and experience should be taken advantage of regardless of what you major in college, but they are essential if you are majoring in a broader subject.

Narrow majors offer the benefit of being able to specialize in something that really interests you. You can specialize in Asian Studies, Classical Studies, or Marine Biology, or if you choose, create your own major and study something like EcoGastronomy (I don’t know what that is either, but it sounds interesting). You can tailor your major to your interest if you create one, but even if you do not, you have the unique opportunity to gain an extensive amount of knowledge about a very specific subject. Sure, there is less subject diversity in your major, but if you chose it for the right reasons, you will never get tired of it. Unfortunately, there are a limited number of jobs for narrow majors compared to broader ones, but the bright side is that there are fewer applicants to these jobs. You also need to accept the fact that you might have to move to where the job availability is. For example, someone that studies Marine Biology in North Dakota is probably going to have a hard time finding a job there, and will probably need to move to somewhere like Florida.

So, a broad major or a narrow one? Sociology or Astrophysics? It really simmers down to what kind of personality you have, how dedicated you are, and ultimately what you want to learn about and do with your life. You may not have it all figured out, but the best place to start is to choose a major and try it out. It is better than being undeclared until you’re a junior, and end up panicking because you might not get the classes you need to graduate on time.

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