Deciding What to Study

Does your ‘school major’ really matter? I think this is the type of question that most college students simply glaze over and accept as the status quo: “of course your major matters.” 

In this essay, I hope to explore this prompt further and, at the minimum, provide scenarios in which what you study in school does not matter. 

First and foremost, what does matter mean? Does it mean you will make more money after college? Does it mean you will have more fun while at school? Learn more? Is it about your return on investment? Money investment or time investment? Are you a short or long term investor, etc.? 

What matters” is entirely contextual, yet we apply this blanket formula for how you should think about what you major in during school. This is obviously a really hard question. 

There are several lens for figuring out what you want to major in…I again do not believe in a blanket “right strategy,” but I think they are all interesting enough to think about….

You can can choose your major by optimizing for learning, money, interesting, easiness, etc. 

I think these are all the wrong type of lenses (for me) because none of them include long term context.

The long term context that I think most people leave out of how they choose what to study in school is just how likely they are to pick up a topic in the future. 

If you do not study history in school, will you study it as an adult? Will you study art? Will you study mathematics? Will you care about Plato? 

I want to crush the idea that what you study in school *really* matters. You can be a history major and do anything. You can be a computer science major and do anything. 

Let’s forget about roles and buckets for a second and not make decision based off of how other people went through school.

The status quo is to study finance and computer science. That is what makes you “marketable.” 

I am double majoring in Finance and Computer Science. Call me a hypocrite, but perhaps I messed up. Perhaps I am studying everything incorrectly. 

I also do not believe in people majoring in completely useless and indeed inaccurate types of majors. For me, here at school, I think the fundamentals of majors like marketing, leadership, etc. are indeed completely incorrect. I think you can regress by learning these types of things in school – and that will limit your long term potential.

But studying the abstract…philosophy, history, etc. Perhaps that is the purpose of college? 

Perhaps we are being sucked into optimizing for a 2 year ROI versus taking the long view…

It really depends on the type of person you are and how individualistic you think you can be. I don’t need a major as my crutch…perhaps freshman year me did…

Also published on Medium.