Major Exploration Guide

Major Myths

There are often misconceptions when it comes to selecting a college major. Which of the following myths do you believe?

Myth 1: Everyone has a major.

Fact: 50-75% of students change their major at least once in college.

In CLAS, we like to say that you are more self-aware coming in as Exploratory Studies. You recognize that you don’t have all the answers and you might not know what you want to study right now. You’re giving yourself time and space to explore different paths and make an informed decision about your future.

Myth 2: My career has to match my major.

Fact: Employers are looking for transferrable skills, which you can get from any major.

The top five skills employers want, as noted by Forbes magazine in 2014, are:

  • Ability to work in a team
  • Ability to solve problems and make decisions
  • Communication skills
  • Planning and organizational skills
  • Ability to obtain and process information

Most careers do not require specific credentialing. What they do require is the right combination of academic and career preparation.

Start by finding out the Training, Qualifications, and Credentialing needed to pursue a career in the field you’re interested in. Two fantastic resources: the Occupational Outlook Handbook and the University of Arizona’s Career Services office.

Some career fields (e.g., nutrition, education) require credentialing that is offered at the UA. Other career fields (e.g., interior design, culinary arts) require credentialing that may be offered elsewhere. Still other fields (e.g., advertising, human services, retailing) require specific experience in the field, regardless of major. Knowing what is important to future employers —and often, what’s important is not which major you completed—is the key to making sure you are prepared for life after graduation.

Myth 3: My major must satisfy my friends and family members.

Fact: You are the one taking these courses, so YOU must feel satisfied.

Have you spoken to your family about your major decision? Chances are they want you to be happy and successful. You are more likely to be successful in a major that interests you and aligns with your abilities and skills. The more successful you are, the more opportunities will be available to you, and that will make everyone happy!

Myth 4: Only certain majors will allow me to have a high-paying career.

Fact: Regardless of major, all recent college graduates have similar starting salaries between 30-40k a year. Experience and advanced degrees result in a higher salary in all fields.

Did you know?

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, majored in Classics and French, not English. 

Former CEO of Xerox Ursula Burns majored in mechanical engineering.

Fashion Designer Vera Wang majored in art history.


Major Exploration