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An old college major dilemma: For love or money?

Is the choice of college major solely made out of passion for a person's particular course of study? Or, has the single biggest decision at the beginning of every student's college career become littered with ambiguity by the gravities of society's economic pressures to make a certain base salary right after graduation?

It is suggested in Michelle Singletary's article in the Washington Post, "Not all college majors are created equal," that it should be, and in my own campus inquiries, a lot of what she writes seems accurate. But I still believe in passionate newcomers choosing majors because they are in love with the subject, not, however, because a higher projected salary has been tagged along with it. After all, I am a perfect example.

In "Not all college majors are created equal," Singletary suggests that incoming college students should pay a serious amount of attention to projected annual earnings when selecting a major. "I wouldn't want to discourage people from pursuing a career they love, even if the pay isn't very high," Singletary writes. "However, that choice should be made with the understanding of which job opportunities might be available and weighing what you can expect to earn annually against the cost of taking on debt to finance your education."

Michael DePalma is a Freshman Business Major from Millville, New Jersey. He can be reached at

I fully understand the message Singletary is trying to send to high school seniors who are most likely contemplating their majors at this time. However, I am a firm believer in going after what you love as much as you possibly can, and, because of passion and effort, being rewarded twofold in the end.

The debate over whether to choose a major because you're almost guaranteed a job, or, choosing something because you love it, is an old one. But it has been one in particular that I believe my generation needs to consider closely. There is a difference between choosing a major because you have a passion for it, because it's fun, or because it's easy; a line that is becoming increasingly blurred and causing outsiders, such as Singletary, to question student's decisions.

When I ask other freshmen about why they're choosing their particular major, two responses seem to dominate: "I'll get a job, no doubt," or, "It's easy, man." The first answer would please Singletary, definitely, while the second would sound like pure hysteria; however, neither satisfies my ears.

As a freshman, completely undecided about which major I wanted to choose, and being admitted to the Stillman School, this decision weighed on me daily. After all, I was admitted to a top 60 Business school, and my grades weren't too shabby. I just wasn't feeling as personally fulfilled as I knew I should have. Multiple opinions were being shot my way, telling me to stay in the Business school because I'll get a job, others telling me not to switch to something else because it would be easier, and others telling me it didn't really matter-that a college degree is as good as the paper it's printed on. However, one opinion rose above the rest: my father's.

My dad, a guy who has been successful in the business world, gave me a piece of advice that I never thought he would. "Mike, if you don't feel yourself magnetized to the classroom, or that class is a chore, whatever you're doing, just isn't right," he advised. "Finding your passion, and doing something for the sheer joy you feel in doing it, is what it's all about. Don't go looking for the money. The money will find you."

Singletary, who suggests a report from Georgetown-which displays unemployment rate and salary per major-be the map key to choosing a course of study, would probably not have given me the same advice.

I will be starting next semester as a Journalism Major supplemented with a Political Science minor. According to the Georgetown report's salary scale, this is not the best decision. But, after all, that isn't what I'm using as my map key. And others shouldn't either.

Michael DePalma is a Freshman Business Major from Millville, New Jersey. He can be reached at

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