Choosing A College Major

5788270465_9ae755c0b5_zThere is too much talk today about following one’s passion – and an implicit pressure on young students to have a passion. It is bit like the hollywood version of a true soul mate – an expectation set so high, that it can almost never be satisfied.

Most times, you can’t know what you want to be till you have the opportunity to be that. As Sheryl Sandberg said: “The reason I don’t have a <career> plan is because if I have a plan I’m limited to today’s options.

In other words, you will do well to:

  • stay broad in your education and learning opportunities (e.g. study ancient history, not hieroglyphics)
  • pick growing, open, and narrow areas to showcase your achievements (do a project in hieroglyphics, not ancient history)
  • evaluate opportunities as they present themselves
  • take the opportunities/risks that help you open new doors (you may, in the wake of Arab Spring, research how archeological work can best continue during periods of political instability. You may even help archive artifacts related to the Arab Spring. Neither of them is a study of ancient history, or hieroglyphics. Both can open many doors.)

And yes, there is risk inherent in every opportunity – even in the decision not to take the opportunity. Evaluate risk, instead of avoiding it.

Image Credit:  Some rights reserved by quinn.anya
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This entry was posted in General by Sri Subramanian (@whosissri). Bookmark the permalink.

About Sri Subramanian (@whosissri)

Sri is a technologist with a point of view, hoping to make this world a better place in small ways. She lives at the intersection of business, technology, and people. Sri is currently Founder of Volv.me Sri is also responsible for bringing two wonderful girls into this world, and - with ample help from her husband, and family and friends - successfully inserting many non-fun moments (such as brushing teeth) into their lives.

3 thoughts on “Choosing A College Major

  1. Totally agree with being well-rounded for broader options for majors in college and career afterwards. However, current graduation requirements for high school allow students to graduate without a complete foundation if their passion is science. It is is possible not to take Physics as a subject and graduate high school with Chemistry and Biology alone. That is specialization already. Not all Physics is Mechanics and some of the concepts do spill into the other sciences. Many careers are examples for this.
    It would be nice to see a VOLV comparison of options available for a Physics-Chemistry-Biology vs. Chemistry-Biology for a high school graduate.

  2. You are right. Many students do skip one of the physical sciences in their quest to get more AP credits, and a shot at a higher weighted GPA. As a person who fell in love with Physics in school, I personally find it all sad. That said, this is one of those topics that is best addressed in the context of a specific student.

  3. A well advised principle is to build on what is available. But this is inherently complex with double goal programming; one to choose on available groups of subjects to study in the given context for the future ambition in mind, and the other is to choose such a group of subjects that will sail you through in competition and enable later to move into the actual subject in mind for a future ambition. The later is the mode of operation resorted to by parents. The first is the dare-devil thought of a serious student.

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