You Ask, What Can I Do With This Major, And We Provide The Answers

By Thomas Ryerson

The age old dilemma, you do all that work and wind up with a major in...what? Take your choice: sociology, psychology, ethnic studies, physics, classics, women's studies, organizational behavior and...not English lit. You didn't do a major in English lit, did you?

Anyway, it's all done and there you are with that degree that you worked so hard to get; all those late nights cramming and hours upon hours in the library, and then it hits you. Heck, what am I going to do now? What can I do with this major? Okay, it is a scary prospect to suddenly be faced with the real world, but all is not lost. No you haven't wasted the last three or four years of your life.

Before diving right into the help for our readers and friends suddenly awaken from the eternal dream of undergrad life, a little precautionary advice might be helpful to those getting ahead of the curve. If you've had the foresight to consider this question in advance of registering for your major, you are a clever cookie. And, as it happens, there are some measures to point you in the right direction.

1. To start, it's a good idea to figure out what area of study would interest you. If you haven't done that, do it immediately. One good approach is to look over the course offerings at your preferred college. You could try to rank them by hierarchical preference.

2. When you do know what major(s) are most of interest, ask around for those with experience in the same fields. Don't be surprised to learn that you are, or someone you know is, acquainted with someone or maybe a few people who have taken the same major. What have they done with it?

3. High schools and colleges have on staff counselors and advisers whose job is largely to address just these kinds of queries. Be sure to employ all the resources that these institutions make available to you.

4. Heck, just try a focused Google search: what in darn can I do with this English lit major? (You might actually find something.)

If it's too late for preventative action, don't despair, remedial action is possible. In fact all points 2 through 4 above remain perfectly relevant, even if you already have your degree. What are others with that major doing? Your college adviser has heard it all before. Don't squander a valuable resource. And it's quite common these days for larger universities to have career centers. You're not the first major in Renaissance poetry to wander in looking for a few career tips.

However, whatever else you do, make sure to dedicate some serious time to that Google search. You can find some pretty groovy stuff. For instance, it turns out that lots of colleges have publicly available online resources for researching just this sort of thing. As an example, check out the University of California career center online resources.

By doing so, I was able to learn about the career options for dozens of majors. Even some pretty esoteric ones were listed. Heck, they might even have yours!

For instance, check this out all you English majors. You can pull in an average salary of $43,589. (That'll buy you a whole lot of Canterbury Tales.) Even better, have a gander at your career options. They include opportunities to work as an analyst, an editorial assistant, a product development coordinator or're going to want to sit down for this...a college adviser! Yes, my friends, that's right: you too can lean back with an air of bemusement, while you rest your feet on the desktop, and fold your hands behind your head, smiling to yourself with each new glaze-eyed grad that wanders into your office, stammering the question: uh, what can I do with this major?

So chin up all you grads; however improbable you may fear was your choice of major. There is hope for your future. Heck, there might even be hope for a pay check in your future!

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