Why You Shouldn't Base Your Major off of Salary


In today's world, it's easy to get caught up in all the success stories of millennials right out of college who become entrepreneurs or attain high-up positions at top industries.  Choosing a major for yourself is already hard enough without all the pressure from family and high school counselors to enter the health or business field, where stability is guaranteed and success is more than likely (especially with IU's prestigious Kelley School of Business).  However, if you don't enjoy crunching numbers or seeing blood, I urge you to choose a major that will put you in a job where you will not dread going to work everyday.  You may be getting an average salary, but such trivialities matter little when you are happy with what you are doing on a daily basis.  I've included some statistics as proof that a high salary does not make a joyous individual. 

The difference between being well and well off

It's tempting to think that you would be satisfied in any career if your salary is in triple digits.  The common thinking process is that if you make enough money doing something you don't enjoy, you will be able to spend your free time doing things you do enjoy, like traveling.  The fault in this belief is that jobs that pay well and give you an acceptable amount of free time are extremely rare.  On average, a person spends 90,000 hours of their live at work.  Do you really want to spend that much time feeling stressed and unhappy?  Forbes says that the divorce rate is twice the average for married couples in which one partner spends 10 more hours at work than usual.  If you think college is stressful... 46% of stress is directly caused by workload, as shown by a study by the American Institute of Stress. 

Choosing a career you love

While the amount of options for your major is beyond overwhelming, the best thing you can do is narrow it down to your interests.  If you like art, consider doing something with graphic design, cinematography, or architecture.  If writing is your passion, journalism or English could be the path for you (IU also has a great journalism school that I am lucky to be a part of).  Contrary to popular belief, there are multiple careers for music lovers that can't carry a tune or play and instrument, such as talent agents and event planners for concerts or music festivals. 

When you find a perfect match...

Don't take it for granted.  Meaning, immerse yourself and do everything you can extra curricular-wise to build your resume, because while it is worth it to find a job you love, your parents are right when they say how difficult some fields are to enter.  However, if you truly have a passion for what you are studying and take it seriously, you will excel in no matter what you choose.  It's been proven that people who are happy with their careers are also the hardest working. 

Don't get me wrong.  If your passion is business or health, then by all means, become a CEO or an entrepreneur or a doctor.  However, if you find your drive elsewhere, pursue it.  I promise you won't regret it.

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About The Author
Cassie Heeke

Journalism Major at Indiana University