Mar 232010
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

The semester is half over, and for those of you who started in the fall, this means you’ve spent at least half a year on your current major. And, like many college students, you may be wondering if you’ve made the right decision.

Don’t worry too much about it –– it’s only your future and thousands and thousands of dollars. People routinely waste both.

If for some reason these things matter, it may be time to step back and evaluate where you’re going with your education. If you’re not enjoying classes that relate to your future career, maybe it’s time to consider making a serious change.

I recommend not attending those classes. Clearly, they’re making you unhappy with your future, and reality should never get in the way of dreams. If you want something enough, you can achieve it just by wanting it enough. That and throwing anyone who gets in your way off a cliff. Thanks, Disney villains!

You may also want to consider the practicality of your degree. Yes, it can be fun to study British literature between 1778 and 1779, but let’s be honest, this degree is almost unemployable. Same for art, art history, history, English, English art and the history of English art. I actually have a B.A. in English, so I’m speaking from experience here.

Why won’t you be hired? Simple –– your degree is so useful and intimidating that employers know you’d take their job from within minutes of entering the building. It’s a sensible fear. The applications for such a degree are uncountable.

To test if your major is not practical, ask yourself the following question: At what store or institution do they sell the thing you are learning about? If you cannot name a physical location or end product, you are clearly looking at a huge, undeveloped market you can capitalize on.

You could try to make yourself more marketable by getting a graduate degree or ensuring you have practical experience. Both of these things indicate to managers that you are not interested in middle management, and hence will not be stealing their jobs.

There’s also the parental factor to consider. Let’s face it, pretty much all of us wouldn’t be here if our parent’s hadn’t been involved. Naturally, this means they have some say in what you end up studying and doing with the rest of your life.

Making decisions for yourself hasn’t worked out very well so far. Your parents probably have about a decade of experience keeping you from doing other things you really wanted to do like eating crayons and seeing how hot the stove really is. There’s no reason things should be different now that you’re older and have your own dreams.

If you do make the choice to switch majors, there’s always the concern that some credits may end up being wasted. If you are going to waste even a single credit, you should strongly reconsider switching majors. It’s much better to finish the entire degree, which is at least a completed waste, than to less than completely waste your education.

Lastly, keep in mind that you can always put your education down and come back to it in a semester or two. Sure, some people might consider this to be dropping out, and it might turn into dropping out and never returning, but it’s not like a significant percentage of freshmen end up dropping out and never returning.

The important thing to remember is that any level of post high school education will increase your income after college. And that it’s possible to both pursue your dreams and not end up a pauper, as long as you’re smart about how you pursue your dreams.

Although, even if you can’t follow your dreams and be happy, I’m pretty sure you can just buy it later.

Otherwise, why would people be working so hard at things they don’t enjoy?

Johnathan Kastner is a senior computer science major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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