No matter your college major, soft skills like critical thinking and communication matter more to employers.

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering whether you chose the right major way back in freshman year of college, there’s good news for you: it might not play as big a role in your career success as you’ve been led to believe.

In a piece for The New York Times Education section, editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education Jeffrey J. Selingo discusses the ways in which the subject we majored in in college means less in the real world than other skills and character traits: 

So does the college major matter? I posed that question recently to my roommate at Ithaca College, who like me, majored in journalism. He had known since middle school what he wanted to do—become a television journalist. Now almost 20 years after we both graduated, David Muir is an anchor and correspondent for ABC World News.

He works with plenty of people who do not have journalism degrees. The commonality among them, he says, is that “we all majored in what we were interested in. The curiosity and the willingness to adapt are more important than what the degree is in.”

These are many of the same qualities that employers say, in survey after survey, they want in future workers. Hiring managers complain that they often find today’s college graduates lacking in interpersonal skills, problem solving, effective written and oral communication skills, the ability to work in teams, and critical and analytical thinking. Employers say that future workplaces need degree holders who can come up with novel solutions to problems and better sort through information to filter out the most critical pieces.

You can check out the full post here.

It’s a strong argument for the importance of soft skills—something you can focus on learning no matter which major you decide to pursue.

How much of a role do you think your college major has played in your career success? Has it been as important as the skills you’ve acquired?


  1. Cecilia Harry

    I agree that completing a college degree says a lot about your soft skills, but I believe major choice strongly impacts your career options in a lot of cases. On my team, I’d prefer to have a history/language major with amazing communication and writing skills than a business major who was the slacker in group projects. Some employers understand this, but the reality is that it does still matter which major your choose. You could automatically be excluded if your degree isn’t in the field they specify, and clearly with very specialized jobs in field like engineering and other sciences, a liberal arts degree will not cut it.

  2. jranom421

    That may be so for liberal arts or business majors, but anyone trying to get into STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) without a degree it going to be in for a rough ride.
    If your rejection notices don’t include hysterical laugh tracks, consider yourself fortunate.

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