What's the "right" major for my son or daughter?

Many people think that the first "career" struggles a student faces is selecting a major. So let's start by eliminating that myth. Choosing a major is not choosing a career. Dickinson graduates work in virtually every sector of the economy and they all started with a liberal arts or science major. Our alumni constantly tell us of the value of their major and degree in the workplace.

This is one of the great aspects of the liberal arts-it is timeless and eternally useful. You don't have to worry about trends and try to speculate what the best preparation is for the next 50 years. We already know: it's the liberal arts.

The problem is that pesky question students are always asked after they tell someone their major: "What are you going to do with that?"

This is the wrong question. What should be asked is:
"What do you want to do? And how can you demonstrate through your major, your experiences, and your skills that you can do it?"

No one knows exactly where they will be in 5, 10, or 20 years but students can think about what interests them generally and try to get summer jobs, internships, and other experiences which will help them develop a career focus.

Our experience in the Career Center demonstrates that there is little relationship between the major and the career. If you'd like to see concrete examples of this, go to our From Major to Career site and see the careers alumni are pursuing from each major.

Barring any unusual circumstance, our advice to students is:

  1. Major in what you enjoy.
  2. Major in an area where you relate well to the professors.
  3. Major in an area you will enjoy learning so you get the best grades.
  4. If you know the general career path or graduate school path you plan to follow, select a related major.