“You Want To Be What?!”: Advice For Unconventional Majors

The scenario may be a familiar one: the prodigal son or daughter returns home after their first semester at college and announces over dinner that they have switched from pre-med and are now majoring in basket-weaving or the mandolin. There is shocked silence before the yelling and crying ensues. Expectations will go unfulfilled, dreams are crushed, and that one announcement has effectively ruined the entire meal, and possibly meals to come.

While this scene is often exaggerated and used for laughs in movies and T.V. shows, it plays into some very real anxieties. If you are a college student who wishes to pursue a creative or “unconventional” major, you may worry about your parents’ support, feel as if you need to justify your choices, or wonder if your personal choices are letting a lot of people down. As someone who has dealt with this type of anxiety I offer up the following suggestions:

  • Don’t Be Afraid To Follow Your Passion

If you know that you love art and want to dedicate your life to it in whatever capacity possible, don’t fight against it. It’s possible that you will ask yourself at some point if you have made a horrible mistake, especially if your major choice and career dreams are irresponsible and unrealistic. This type of self-doubt is normal, but don’t let these doubts dissuade you or erect an impassable roadblock. When I switched my major to creative writing it was one of the best decisions of my life. I know many people who have looked back on their college experiences and said, “I wish I would have…” Don’t be afraid to dedicate these four years to what you really love. And remember, what you majored in in college does not necessarily have to determine what you do with the rest of your life.

  • Be Realistic, Get Creative 

Going into a creative or unconventional field often means you have to be more creative when thinking about career opportunities. When thinking about your options after college know what is available to you. Take time to explore the ways in which you can turn your passion into a career. As a creative writing major who is interested in writing poetry, I know that I will probably never be able to support myself financially by writing poems, even if I was to eventually get published. Instead of dissuading me, this has only motivated me to find ways in which to integrate my love of writing into a career. I have attended many career panels and talked to counselors and professors and feel confident about my choices after college.

  • Look to Professionals with Similar Majors

One of the best things about following your passion is that no one can take it away from you. If you love music or art or writing or anything of the like, those are things that you will always be able to take with you, regardless of where you’re working. And don’t underestimate the marketability of creative degrees; I suggest that you talk with your professors and attend every career panel or job fair that is offered; many universities even host workshops that are geared towards students entering the workforce with creative degrees.

  • Don’t Let Others Devalue Your Work

Unfortunately, your friends, family, and even complete strangers sometimes feel like they have a right to comment on your academic choices. A man I’d never met before once told me that it would make more sense for me to burn my tuition money than major in creative writing. It’s important to brush these types of jabs off. Don’t let others belittle your choices or your chosen path. If you’re happy and doing what you love then don’t let someone else cause you to doubt yourself. The more passionate you are about your work, the more driven you are and the more likely it is for you to succeed. Remember, at the end of the day the only person you have to answer to is you.

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Brianna Low

Brianna Low

Brianna Low is a rising senior at DePaul University pursuing a double major in English and Spanish. Brianna enjoys reading, writing, and traveling. She currently works for DePaul's Art Department as a receptionist and hopes to one day work in a library. Brianna is happiest when surrounded by books.
Brianna Low

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