Making College Count – Part 4: Selecting Your Major

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Our local university, Purdue, has nearly 200 majors from which one can choose.  Don’t you think “Medieval and Renaissance Studies” sounds like a solid game plan for a career path? I just know the Medieval Times franchise is going to be the next Starbucks success story. I’m sure there will be one on every corner.  Philosophy may be another great option.  Students have all sorts of opinions to philosophize about.  They just need to find people to give them money for their opinions so they can eat throughout life (no offense Medieval or Philosophy majors).

With 200 majors from which to choose, students can become lost in the maze of choices.  Have you ever caused a waiter to keep coming back to your table because you couldn’t decide which food you desired?  The dizzying list of menu options present you and your frustrated waiter with no minor dilemma.  On the other hand, why do students complain that they can’t find something they like and enjoy?

A variety of options, however, is not the problem.  In my experience in working with college students, I believe one primary issue leads to indecisiveness.  Many wavering students have bought into this wrong expectation:  “MY career” should be what satisfies me.

A Career Does Not Provide Ultimate Satisfaction

Teens hear this refrain about a future career, “You must find something you love to do and do it!”  What if I love video games? Movies?  Not doing anything? Sports?  Without any perspective, how would a typical self-absorbed teen interpret this mantra?  Regularly focusing on what will satisfy me breeds discontentment anyway (Prov 27:20).

A Career Enables the Deployment of God Given Skills

A career is simply a tool for an individual to deploy his God given skills to advance God’s plan on this earth through righteous relationships, meaningful productivity, and compassionate provision for others (family, church, and society).

A career is simply a tool for an individual to deploy his God given skills to advance God’s plan on this earth.

This definition should be freeing to us all.  We don’t have to find the ONE thing we can do to make us happy (only God satisfies anyway; Ps 73:25).  Students must be taught to discern their skills and use them in a variety of ways to fulfill their purpose in life.  Os Guinness states, “God normally calls us along the line of our giftedness, but the purpose of our giftedness is stewardship and service, not selfishness.”

Moreover you can use your skills to fulfill your purpose in more than one specific job choice.  Statistics show that you probably won’t stay in the precise field of your college major for life anyway.  So don’t impose an artificial limitation on yourself. God does not care as much about what you do (i.e. your precise job) as much as He cares about how you are stewarding the gifts and abilities He has given you.

What If I Don’t Know My Skills?

Wouldn’t it be great if your birth certificate came with a description of your skill set?  My life would have been much easier if my birth certificate read, “Brent Aucoin, male, born on July 20, 1968, capable of critical thinking in theology, science, math, management, problem solving; able to effectively disciple young men; but also more capable of manifesting pride resulting in the fear of man and worry hindering the effective use his strengths.” But God didn’t design the discovery of our skill set that way.

Do Something!

Is it really surprising that you must actually DO something in order to discover your skill set?   You must be involved serving, participating in meaningful work, volunteering.  You must try and succeed.  You must try and fail.

I have never found people who are actively engaged in working, volunteering to tackle projects, and serving, who really question what skill sets they have.

So, remind yourself of your purpose.  Get busy doing something.  Talk to a variety of people.  Discover your God given skills.  Determine how they (and a particular major) can be used to further your serviceability for God and others. And go for it!

Brent Aucoin
Pastor Brent Aucoin serves as the Pastor of Seminary and Counseling Ministries at Faith Church. He is the president of Faith Bible Seminary, and is a counselor and instructor for Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries.