Myths about Majors
Myth 1: Some majors are more "practical" when it comes to getting a job.
Explaining to your family why you are majoring in classics or comparative literature may seem daunting, but keep in mind that employers look more closely at the analytic and communication skills of their prospective employees than they do at the candidate's major. One survey of employers found that the number one skill employers look for is good communication skills: "getting good ideas communicated without saying 'like' and 'you know'" (NACE Job Outlook 2005). Students with liberal arts training from anthropology to visual arts have valuable skills in analysis, verbal communication, reading, and writing that make them highly versatile and trainable on the job. Also, you can't predict when your particular passion (East Asian culture, for example, or philosophy) might catch the eye of someone reading your resume. Students with unique interests and experience stand out from the crowd, and following your passion can get you that crucial interview, or win you the job.
Myth 2: If I choose the wrong major, I won't get a good job.
Your major need not determine your job. In recent years, an architecture major took a job as a legislative aide; an English major as a marketing explorer for L'Oreal; a psychology major as a financial analyst; and a biology major as a consultant at McKinsey & Co. Not as many Princeton students as you might think seek jobs in investment banking, but if that's your interest, an economics or ORF major is not a requirement.
Myth 3: The larger departments are best for law school applicants.
Law schools want students who can think critically and write well, and who have some understanding of the forces that have shaped the human experience. These attributes can be acquired in any number of college courses, whether in the arts and humanities, the social sciences, or the natural sciences. Successful law school applicants in recent years are graduates of art and archaeology; CEE; classics; East Asian studies; ELE; MAE; molecular biology; Near Eastern studies; philosophy; physics; psychology; religion; Sociology; Spanish & Portuguese; in addition to students from such larger departments as English, politics, economics, and history.
Myth 4: Medical schools will think I am more serious if I major in the sciences.
Last year, exactly half of the Princeton students admitted to medical school were Humanities/Social Science majors. Acceptance rates for medical school are the same for science and non-science majors. Among the Humanities students admitted to medical school last year were majors in Art/Archaeology, Art History, Comparative Literature, Religion, Sociology, Psychology, English, History, and WWS. Students sometimes think that they will be more successful in medical studies if their science background is deep, but Humanities students thrive once they get to medical school.