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3 Reasons Not to Major in Business


Business administration has long been the most popular undergraduate major in American colleges and universities. There is no doubt that students acquire valuable skills, such as leadership and decision making, through the coursework. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a sure path to a successful career.


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Here are a few things to consider:

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1. Business majors report feeling less fulfilled by their work than others.

Results of a recent Gallup poll suggest that business majors are the least likely of the four large major categories, (social sciences/education, sciences/engineering, arts and humanities, and business), to report strong interest in the work they do now. Only 37 percent strongly agreed that they were deeply interested in their work.

“More broadly, those who majored in business also lag by a substantial margin behind their academic peers in the critical area of purpose well-being,” write Andrew Dugan and Stephanie Kafka at Gallup. “The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index defines this as people liking what they do each day and being motivated to achieve their goals. In contrast to clear majorities of social sciences/education (56%), sciences/engineering (54%), and arts and humanities (53%) majors who are ‘thriving’ in their purpose well-being, less than half of business majors (48%) are thriving.”

2. It might not make you rich.

In tough economic times, it makes sense that students would pick a major that sets them up for higher earnings after graduation. There’s just one problem: even if students go on to earn an MBA, there’s no guarantee that they’ll go on to high-earning careers. 

Rich Smith in Daily Finance breaks down Gallup’s numbers:

“Asked whether they are ‘thriving’ financially, only 43 percent of college business school graduates agreed with the statement. That was somewhat better than the numbers tallied for graduates with social sciences/education degrees (42 percent) or for arts and humanities graduates (39 percent). But once again … the folks who have the most fulfilling careers and make the most money working in those careers are students who earned science and engineering degrees. Forty-eight percent of such students say they’re ‘thriving’ financially today.”

Furthermore, not every business degree or MBA is created equal. PayScale’s College Salary Report found huge variations in post-grad and lifetime earnings for both undergraduate business majors and MBA recipients, depending on which program they selected. 

3. You’ll get less emotional support as a business major.

Another Gallup poll, released just this month, revealed that only 9 percent of graduates who majored in business reported receiving emotional support from faculty and staff during their time in school. Connecting with mentors during college is important, and emotional support is fundamental at the beginning of any career. Perhaps this helps explain the lack of enthusiasm and engagement that business majors experience further down the road.

Tell Us What You Think

Did you major in business, and if so, would you do it again? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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