bored-with-homework-446665-m.jpgCal Newport writes on his blog "Study Hacks" (a thoughtful and original blog on success in and out of the classroom) about what to do if your "dream" major seems more like a nightmare:

"The idea that some students just love everything about their major, and are always excited by the work it generates, is a popular belief. I’ll let you in on a secret: such students don’t exist. So don’t get freaked out that your schoolwork annoys you. There is no right major for you. There are only right motivations." Read More

Newport, who is currently an assistant professor at Georgetown and began the blog when he was a computer science graduate student at M.I.T., goes on to explain how the joy and satisfaction we think we should feel from our chosen major or career probably won't come until later and that "nobody loves a subject during the process of mastering it."

Think about an activity or skill that you are good at and continue to engage in because you love it: playing a sport or musical instrument, for example. Chances are that at the beginning you didn't love everything about it quite so much. You were too busy learning the fundamentals: doing laps, getting stronger, practicing scales, learning fingering techniques. Only later does the passion happen--that is if we stick around long enough to experience it.

Highly creative students seem particularly irked by boredom and lured by novelty, a trait that can lead to innovation and seeing possibilities that others miss. However, a long-term goal of career satisfaction often requires staying with hard and, yes, even tedious work at times. That's not to say that switching majors is always a bad idea; read Newport's discussion of how "deep procrastination" can be a sign that a change is in order. However, you can be careful, as he reminds us, not to mistake difficult or fundamental work as a problem with your choice of major.

Also on Study Hacks: The Roberts Method: A Professor’s Advice for Falling in Love With Your Major


Thank you to one of my former students for reminding me of the helpfulness of Study Hacks. Photo Credit: melodi2