Some people already know what they’d like to major in before attending their first college class. For others, though, declaring a major is fraught with anxiety and stress. All too often, students believe that their future career opportunities are almost entirely dependent on the majors they choose. In most cases, though, that simply isn’t true. In fact, many people end up in careers that have little or nothing to do with their majors. That’s partly because most college students are young. As they mature and grow following graduation, their interests and motivations often change. Fortunately, few are held back by having chosen the “wrong” major.

Know Yourself

People often stress themselves out by worrying about the kinds of doors various majors will open for them. Instead of basing your decision on the types of career paths various majors will make available to you, choose a major that suits your needs on a more personal level. More than anything, college is about discovering yourself. Having tunnel vision about the major you choose could make you miss out on other exciting opportunities. By choosing a major that coincides with your natural skills, strengths and personality, you will have a more enjoyable and successful college experience.

Think Outside the Major Box

What if you’ve already graduated from college and feel constrained by your major? There’s no reason to feel that way. The truth is that most employers are more concerned about a candidate’s educational achievements in general as opposed to what they majored in. If you’ve held off on applying for certain jobs because they don’t “match” your major, it’s time to switch gears. For most employers, skills and experience trump things like college majors every time. If you can show that you are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the position or career path in question, you’ll already be ahead of the game.

Apply Your Major to Different Career Paths

Think about your major. Odds are that you’ve associated it with very specific career paths. For instance, if you have an English degree, you may think you are limited to being a writer, editor, journalist or something along those lines. In reality, though, strong English skills come in handy in just about every imaginable job. By being creative about how you market yourself to employers, you can make your major relevant to practically any position you can dream of. That English degree, for instance, demonstrates that you have strong communication skills that translate well in a wide range of fields.

Quiz Your Friends and Relatives

Still feeling backed into a corner because of your major? Try asking around a little. Quiz friends and relatives about their majors and about the jobs they currently do. Chances are that many of them will have careers that have little or nothing to do with their majors. What’s more is that most of them will say that their majors had virtually no impact on the career paths they chose. This is an incredible common phenomenon, and seeing it in action is reassuring.

Branch Out

Some people are positive they’ve selected the right majors and have rude awakenings upon embarking on career paths that “mesh” with those fields of study. For example, perhaps you earned a degree in business and realized that you’re not cut out for the cutthroat corporate world. Don’t be discouraged. You can easily branch out and move into many different fields with just about any degree. It may take a little longer to get where you’d like to be, but the hard work will be worth it in the long run. One thing’s for sure: You don’t need to go back and earn a different degree to try something different.

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