The Curse of the Business as a Major for College Applications

One of the most important decisions a student will make in the course of their college application process is exactly what program of study they wish to apply for. The choice of major is more than just an answer to the question “What do you want to do when you grow up?” It is a highly strategic process, taking into account what majors are more competitive than others and what majors offer students the best chance of getting into the college of their dreams. One of these highly competitive majors, above all others, seems to draw students and families to it, regardless of counselors’ warnings: business.

The choice of the business major is an easy one to understand. In many cases, it is the choice of students, the majority of them young men, who never found an intellectual passion throughout their secondary school career. They do not know what they want to study, but what they do know is that they want to be successful in life, and studying business seems like the most efficient and effective way to get there. Here’s why they’re wrong.

Experience is Rare

In the new age of college admissions, schools are seeking students who already have a depth of experience in their chosen field of study. While history majors can pursue internships at their local historical society and STEM majors can look into research fellowships with local professors, business majors have very few opportunities available to truly practice their business skills in the real world. What opportunities do exist are either extremely competitive (like Wharton’s Leadership in the Business World summer program) or so basic as to not really count. What results for most students, then, is an application lacking any supporting body.

Essays are Difficult

The vast majority of colleges ask as one of their essay prompts some variation of the question “Why did you pick the major you indicated?” For business majors, this is a horribly difficult question to answer honestly. How do you tell a compelling story about your interest in business when the moral of the story is, ultimately, “I just want to make money?” Not the most intellectual of answers.

A Hostile Audience

Even if a potential business major can compose convincing essays, admissions readers may not care. Many admissions officers were originally humanities majors, and as such might not buy into whatever narrative a business applicant has spun concerning their motives for applying.

A Misguided Career Strategy

While a business major is certainly not useless after undergraduate study, neither is it as useful as some students believe. Much of the principals learned as part of a business program will likely simply be re-taught at any entry-level job, and so a 4-year undergraduate business degree may not be any more attractive than sociology, statistics, or even philosophy degree, as these other fields all bring a specific, unique skillset.

If your student is considering applying for a business major, we highly recommend talking with an independent college counselor right away. They can assist you in identifying the best strategies, activities, and, ultimately, majors for your student to ensure that their time in higher education gets off on the right track.

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Tags: Higher Education, College, College Counseling, College Admissions, College Applications, College List, College Choice, School List, School Choice, College Major, Major Choice, Program of Study, Business Major, Business & Management Major, Management Studies Major