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

By Thomas Ryerson

It's the eternal question. After you do all that work in the end you have your shiny new major in...what? Pick your poison: sociology, anthropology, post-colonial studies, pre-Socratic philosophy, classics, women's studies, Austrian economics and...not English literature. Don't tell me you did English literature as you major. 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.

Having said all that, though, a little ounce of prevention might be in order to get us started. It is possible of course that you may be thinking about this before registering for a major. Well, aren't you clever? If that's the case, here are some tips to get you headed 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. Or, like, if you want to go totally crazy, why not have a shot at a focused Google search: something like, what in blazes can I do with this English literature 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.

Be sure though, not to pass over that Google search. The Big G, you know, is the fount of all knowledge and wisdom. (Okay, maybe you actually have to bring the wisdom, but for knowledge you can't beat it.) For instance, such a search reveals that many universities have online resources great for just this sort of thing. For instance, you can check out the University of California career center online.

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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