We all know why someone would major in engineering: it’s the highest paid job right out of college and it virtually guarantees a successful career—presumably a successful life. We’ve all read the mass literature out there on how engineers and computer scientists make more money on average than most other majors. Majoring in romance languages? That’s cute—now you can be unemployed in three languages. So many middle aged adults out there preach to major in something that can get you a job: “just get through four years of it, and you’ll be set with a backup plan for life,” they say. Real romantic, I know.
Then again, we’ve all heard the opposing argument: do what you love; find what you’re passionate about; follow your dreams. The adults mentioned in the above paragraph would object to this concept. Or maybe they’d say the other classic answer: “Sure, major in Film Studies, do what makes you happy, have a ball… Just also major in something that can actually get you a job. You know, so just in case that other stuff doesn’t work out, you won’t be miserable for the rest of your life.”
So who the hell do we believe? What’s college about? Is it about finding yourself and exploring, or is it about getting a degree that will make you competitive in the workforce? Or is it about finding the balance between the two? Is there a balance between the two, or do they implicitly contradict each other?
Well, sadly, I do not have the answers. But I do have insight. Always good in math and science, I went into college thinking I would be an engineer. (The “at least this way you can always get a job” argument just seemed too convincing). But still, I’ve always been artistic—a filmmaker, specifically. And the funny thing is that ever since I made my first movie, I have been able to tell anyone for almost the past decade, never with any doubt, that if I could grow up to be a successful filmmaker, I would do it. (Granted, when I was eight, I said it with more conviction).
Engineering, though? Yeah right. I’ve always been unsure, since the very beginning. “I’ll try it when I get to college. I know I’ll be good at it and it’ll get me a job. Maybe I’ll love it.” And then I took some intro engineering classes. Nope. I didn’t love it. In fact, I really didn’t like it at all. Luckily I took some economics classes and now I’m thinking about majoring in economic strategy (along with filmmaking, but not solo filmmaking for the same argument mentioned above… but hey, at least now the major I’m doing to get myself a job, I actually enjoy). And now I see it more clearly than ever: I’m not an engineer. It’s not for me. Maybe only majoring in filmmaking would be the worst mistake of my life and I’d be sworn to the life of a starving artist. But honestly, I don’t think majoring in something you’re passionate about could ever be worse than majoring in something you dread simply for the money… or even something you simply don’t enjoy. (If it’s something you kind of like, then maybe it is worth it. I don’t know where that line is).
But anyway, I just remember that life is short. Call me a romantic, but my time is precious and I don’t want to waste a minute of it doing something that doesn’t make me happy… or worse, makes me unhappy. It’s important to have confidence in yourself that you can be successful in whatever makes you happy, not just in what other people want you to do, or what is paying the most money out of college. You’ll make money, somehow, by doing what you enjoy. You have the next forty years to figure that part out—it’s like part two of the puzzle. But for now, just find what it is that you enjoy—and hopefully are good at, too!