Why Your Major (Mostly) Doesn’t Matter… and Grades Too.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. Part of me thinks that I might be an idealist in saying this, but I don’t think your major matters (except in the rare instance that specific technical skills — e.g., engineering — are required) and, honestly, I don’t think your GPA matters all that much either (unless it’s terrible). What matters is how you develop over the course of your college career — the connections you make, the skills you hone, and the self-awareness that you gain over those four years.

I know people who graduate in four years with a business degree and a 4.0, and I don’t think that automatically makes someone the best candidate. I had a teacher in high school who articulated his philosophy about grades — “I would much have the C student who works his [tail] off than the A student who can get As sleeping through my class.” I think the same sort of thinking applies to the major — I’d rather have someone who explored his/her interests and found his/her calling majoring in dance, the thing which invoked authentic passion, than the person who came in foreclosed to the notion of being anything but a business or pre-medicine major.

Because there is something that the C student and the dance major that is revealed by their journey that isn’t necessarily revealed by the straight-A student or the unexplored med student: character. Specifically, hard work, determination, perseverance, passion, energy, chutzpah. So much of our culture tells us — and has told us since we were children — that we needed to work hard in high school to go to college to get a degree to get a job to make a lot of money. We’ve spent so much time thinking about the destination that we’ve forgotten what it means to live in the moment, to be truly happy.

Show me who you are through your schoolwork. Your transcript and resume should give me an insight into your genuine self. Then we’ll talk. Because anyone can manipulate the system to get good grades — I want to know about the journey.

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