This month, hundreds of thousands of lucky young adults will head off to college (and are hopefully doing so without having to strip their finances to the bone or go into un-repayable debt). More so than any time in the recent past, those students are bound and determined to change the world. But what should you major in if you truly want to change the world? You may be surprised that the obvious answers, such as environmental studies or social sciences, aren’t actually the most likely to get you into a position to make real differences in the world. We love the value of a liberal arts degree, but if you want to truly come out of college armed to be able to take over the world and change it for the better, consider these majors.
Engineering or Computer Science: The (Cool) Nerds Have Taken Over
Until Skynet gains awareness (we joke, sort of), the world’s technology is still run by humans. And those who understand how to create, optimize, use and master that technology are really those who control the future of almost every aspect of innovation. Unfortunately, the majority of the current crop of innovation-leading engineers and computer scientists drank the consumer Kool Aid and are seemingly more interested in creating the next great dating app than in creating technology to change (and save) the world. What the world needs now (other than love, sweet love) is a crop of highly skilled technology experts who scoff at creating a new menu reservation app, roll their eyes at IPOs and truly want to improve the world for the better. Engineering and computer programming are the skills you’ll most need in order to change society in the future.
Any of the Hard Sciences: Yes, the (Cool) Nerd Trend Continues
If you haven’t picked up on it already, despite the anti-intellectualism trend happening in America (and elsewhere) at present, the future really does belong to those who are willing to pursue hard academics. And unfortunately we don’t mean “of the liberal arts” varieties (though to be clear we think that there is great value in a liberal arts education). But as global warming and climate change begin to threaten not only weather patterns but also food supplies, it’s the hard sciences that will be able to both stem the tide and create workable solutions. And if you think that you don’t like science or math, give it another chance. The way science and math curriculums are taught in most public schools is almost designed to make you dislike them. Dig deeper.
Finance and Economics: Tackle the Beast From Within
Money makes the world go round, and these days that’s truer than ever. That’s why the road to change will begin when the people who hold and control the money have noble and altruistic goals. That’s not the nature of why a person typically chooses a finance or economics major. In most cases, people who choose to major in money aren’t interested in changing the world. They’re interested in … money. To gain money, you either have to be exceptionally lucky or you need to understand money, how it’s made, how it’s invested and how to maximize gaining it so that you can hopefully use it for good instead of “stuff” (or evil). Money doesn’t have to be evil, but if good people don’t learn to accrue and manage it, then it likely will be.
Business Management or Administration: Create a New Business Model
There are some great businesses out there that are truly changing the world even if they have other typical corporate drawbacks. Starbucks is helping its employees get a college education. WholeFoods donates enormous amounts to local charities. More and more companies are adopting green practices. But at the end of the day, the good is still outweighed by the bad (and by bad we mean beholden to greedy shareholders or run by a greedy owner). Running a business is hard, though. You can’t just wake up and do it one day. You need a specific skill set and a vast knowledge base. Use your college years to acquire that. Then go out and create businesses that treat employees fairly and care about the planet that they’re a part of.
But What About More Hands On Ways to Change the Planet?
Right now you’re asking, “But what about becoming a teacher? What about going to a nonprofit with a liberal arts degree?” Those are noble goals, and both absolutely have a positive impact on the future. But we’re not talking about noble or positive. We’re talking about the best ways to absolutely change the world for the better. To make a significant dent, you need to have a sharp edge and the skillset to compete and infiltrate. Ok, we admit that infiltrate is a strong word. But the reality is that for a very long time people have been trying to change the world from outside of the system. We’d argue that for you to make a bigger impact, you’ll need to get inside of the system, and the college majors above will help you to do that.
But don’t forget to read some great literature during your college years as well! It will give you perspective and teach you how to think. Nobody ever went wrong with an English literature minor!
Did we miss a college major that will help you change the world that you want to share with us? If so, just tell us about it on one of the social media channels below.
Photo Credit: Merrimack College via Flickr