Major Regrets

When I went to BYU, I was a declared Public Relations major, in the Communications department. I took the pre-reqs for three semesters, was accepted to the program, and two months later, changed my major.

It turns out that most of the jokes about Comms majors are based in fact. There were a tremendous amount of athletes in the program, there were many fake blond, baked tan students, and I discovered in one of my classes about consumer behavior that I was one of the few people who didn’t buy jeans that cost as much as a month of rent.

Also, nearly all the classes were easy as can be. My intro classes in other subjects were far more difficult. Let me tell you this – I had a 4.0 in the major and I was not anywhere near a 4.0 student outside the major (let us never discuss the C+ I got in Economics 110). It was just so clearly not the program for me.

And so I decided to change my history minor to a history major.

Part of it was that I have always loved history. But the other part of it was that I truly wanted an academic experience. I didn’t want to write one page papers about what brand of shoes I wore (true story); I wanted to be in the library with a table full of books, writing papers with footnotes.

It did turn out to be like that. I had professors like Paul Kerry and Michael Murdock that turned my world upside down; I saw the world like I never had before and then I got to write about it.

I learned about 20th-century China and Jewish culture and American sports history.

I spent hours sitting in the stacks with piles of books about slave marriages around me.

I watched movies that brought the abstract into stunning detail.

I participated in class discussions that changed the way I thought about hundreds of topics.

Is History a major that’s going to get you a really high-paying job right out of school? Not necessarily. But I knew I wanted to be a librarian and that any of the schools I was considering didn’t require a specific major.

At BYU, there were around 160 majors to choose from. I don’t, for a moment, think I should have chosen one of the other 159. It’s lovely to have no regrets on that particular issue.

What was your major and would you do it differently if you could go back? Or if you don’t have a degree, what would you pick?

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  1. I’m guessing I shouldn’t admit this after reading your post…but I’m an advertising major from BYU (minor in Business Management). I loved my major and knew from my first Intro to Advertising class that it was what I was meant to do. It was a great major and although not very academic, it has been very useful in making money and establishing a career. I wouldn’t change a thing. I LOVE my line of work 🙂

  2. yours is the story of my academia. exactly. only leave mike murdock, replace paul kerry with neil york and ex the librarian part. history was my 1/160 too. well said.

  3. I wanted to major in archaeology or (ancient) anthropology, but those weren’t considered proper things for a young woman to do. I was given a choice: be a music teacher, be an elementary school teacher, or be a nurse.

    Fate intervened. I was awarded a 4-H scholarship for studying home economics at the U of Idaho. That seemed the best alternative to me, and luckily it was acceptable to my family. Money was extremely tight so every little bit helped. (I had to quit in the middle of my junior year anyway, because the money ran out. Had only 3 freaking semesters left. I had to go to work and by the time I had earned enough to go back to school, I had met someone and decided to get married instead.)

    For the most part I disliked Home Ec. And, I really, truly hated child development classes.

    A couple of times I’ve thought about going back and getting a degree in education, but I know I don’t have the patience to be a teacher.

  4. My RMYK major sounds a lot like your experience with Comms. VERY easy, not challenging, serous yawn. I don’t know if I’d change though. One of the best parts of my college like was working at Outdoors Unlimited and they hired me because of my major. I suppose I could’ve switched after they hired me tho. That would’ve been smart.

    I kept myself busy with ballroom dance, and my anthropology minor. Those were really fun. After hearing your description of history though…makes me want a better college education. Something to give me an opinion about life. 🙂

    I’m glad I have photography now. I still can’t decide if I wished I’d taken it in college. Maybe I love it so much because I discovered it later.

  5. Dr. Parry’s Comparative Literature class changed my life. Had I taken it with the professor that usually teaches it (on sabbatical my first semester) I would have stayed a math major and would probably be teaching algebra right now. Instead, I can’t do much but go to graduate school but I’m so glad. I doubt I would have gone to Spain to study math.

    Which begs the question, was I right or wrong to only take classes that applied to my major? It felt smart at the time, but looking back, what would have one more semester been?

  6. Vocal performance was fun, but worthless and not worth the stress of memorizing ancient musical scales. Any musical experiences that I loved in college came from BYU Singers, which obviously didn’t require you to be part of the major to do.

    If I could go back, I’d either work really hard and just do nursing as my first degree, or I’d enjoy delving into languages, which is what really does it for me. I’d be a linguistics major with a portuguese and art history minor.

  7. I was a Political Science major, with a minor in European Stdies, which I also then did a Masters in (ES, not PS). I don’t know that I would have picked a different major, though if I had planned better, I would have double majored with History. I almost had a minor in history, but missed one of the two required classes for the minor because I was studying in Luxembourg for the semester and they didn’t offer it my senior year. Oh well…

  8. I loved my major with all of my heart and soul. I would just like to go back and finish it. It opened my eyes and rocked my world.

    Dear Anthropology,

    Come back to me!!

  9. When I started out in college I declared my major as vocal performance. (laugh now, go ahead, I’ll wait…)

    After noticing that I would have to take numerous music theory classes I backed out and changed to social work. I really wanted to help those adopting parents find that baby!

    And once again, changed my mind. Too serious. Too realistc. Too adult.

    So I made a final decision and completed my degree in early childhood education (with a minor in music. hello theory class, I still hate you.) I would not change a thing. I am who I am now because of my awesome major.

    Which is a totally awesome kick your pockets kinda gal. Who rocks at fingerplays and 3 letter words. Welcome to my world.

  10. This is my third year at BYU and I am in my 7th, nope, 8th declared major. Let me just tell you, it really stinks to be a major hopper.

  11. I’ve always said that your undergrad major doesn’t need to have anything to do with what you want to become professionally. It might shape how you think about things, but isn’t necessarily what you’ll eventually do!

    I majored in Romance and Comparative Literature with a concentration in French, then went back and got my Master’s in Library Science. And I loved every minute of school.

  12. I loved being an English major. I just wish I’d have studied photography there too. So hard to get into the program. And they don’t let you take any photography classes unless you’re declared as a fine arts major. bummer.

  13. My undergrad degree is in Mechanical Engineering and I loved it.

    I would have also considered architecture, but BYU doesn’t offer it.

    Also I wish I would have taken more time to do industrial design classes. Or graphic design or something like that.

  14. Unfortunately, I left college with two Bachelor of Science degrees, one of which I would sell on ebay if I could. I hated it and did it for all the wrong reasons. The one I don’t mind is the Economics degree. The one I hate is the Accountancy degree. Much to my dismay, neither of them seem to be able to get me a job at the moment. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would be a Psychology major with a minor in a language (Spanish or Chinese). Business school would have been no where on the radar (although, Econ wouldn’t have been a bad minor either). And if my student loans weren’t so staggering, I would go back to school and right my wrong in a heart beat.

  15. I don’t think I have to tell you that I don’t regret my visual arts degree one single bit. Oh how I love my oil paints!

    Although, I sort of wish a tiny bit that I’d just bit the bullet and done my BFA. What’s one more year….

    One upside is that I got to do a little bit of everything, and skip several classes that I really did not want to take (read: intaglio).

  16. I love my major (Electrical Engineering). Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing even though I questioned my choice many times in college (usually at 3am). I just wish I had had time to do 2 or 3 other majors too so I could round things out. I wish I could have taken twice as many GE’s. Someday…

  17. I started undecided, then business, then education, then finally settled on history. I LOVED school, and never really had a thought to what I’d do when I finished. I guess a part of me thought I’d go back for a teaching certificate, but I didn’t and now in SD it’s much harder to do. How I ended up as a loan officer I’m still not sure.

    I wish I’d spent more time learning a foreign language and not just memorizing things for a test.

  18. (ok, should also add that I have seriously considered law school, but again, SD changes that as there are no law schools handy.)

  19. I started Comp Sci and finished English. I loved all the reading I got to do, but for real-world application wish I would have stuck with CS. (So tired of hearing how, obviously, anyone can write/edit.)

    History sounds like it would have been a really interesting major. Do you have any books you’d recommend?

  20. I’ve threatened to go back and get a history degree! Thank too much time hanging out in Europe for that! I had three minors which constituted a major back in the day–whatever became of University Studies???? Mine were English, drama, and Youth Leadership (so I could go on Survival at a reduced rate). I took all the classes BYU had to offer on creativity and fancied that someday I would write children’s books (doesn’t everyone?). Then I picked up a master’s degree in instructional technology from USU with a specialization in media center administration and then added a teaching certificate a decade or so later somewhere else. Now I’m putting finishing touches on another master’s in school administration….drum roll…but what I’d really like to do… (a hush falls over the crowd) is write. Had I to DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, I would have become a communications major. We are all one quirky lot.

  21. I’m currently in university and hate it. Period. Irony in this? I want to go on to become a teacher. Ha!

    My biggest regret isn’t my major (history). Its letting my grades slide enough that I’m going to have to spend more time than necessary in university. What was I THINKING?

  22. I got my Bachelors in Elementary Ed. and I really enjoyed all of my schooling at SUU. Now that I am out and I haven’t used my degree except to substitute (I had a baby about 6 months after I got finished and 2 weeks after graduation!) I have sort of thought I should have gone to nursing school instead. I am completely interested everytime I am at the doctors with my kids with nurses and such. So yeah I still think that maybe I should have changed or maybe go back…eventually…

  23. Well, I graduated in Psych, after switching from Chem Eng to Psych to Math to Math Ed to Math to Psych. That being said, I’m now trying to get into nursing at another school. I wish I had really taken the time to figure out what I wanted instead of trying to please everyone who was paying for my education. So now I’m doing it over, with a husband and kid, and no money. Good Job.

  24. The communications majors at BYU sound just like the Criminal justice majors at Richmond! I majored in Leadership Studies, a major that no one has ever heard of because we are the only undergraduate
    School of Leadership Studies in the nation. It was an amazingly interesting and multi-disciplinary course of study with brilliant professors and I just adored it! I was torn between History, Poly Sci and Anthropology so it was a perfect blend of everything for me.

  25. Before I started school I was determined that I would not get a degree that I wouldn’t be able to use in my professional life. I wasn’t interested in Accounting or Medicine, and science has always interested me so naturally, I was drawn to Engineering. Through a combination of poor counselors and bad luck, it took me 7 years to finish my bachelor’s degree. I loved engineering school and I regard my decision to study it as one of the top three best decision in my life.

  26. I am making a career out of going to college! Every major sounds fantastic to me (except math and chemistry). I started first as an English major but couldn’t stand those teachers who told me what I was supposed to be getting out of WWI poetry. Then I went in for Vocal performance. I love my theory class, the diction, and the voice lessons and the love stops there! I am thinking about majoring in History. I miss complaining about having to write essays and then being overjoyed when I accomplish it! Will I every be satisfied LOL.

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