My Major Problem

What it’s like when no one seems to be fond of your major.

Allison Cloud, Volunteer

When you tell people about your major, you’ll get a wide range of responses. For me, some of them are good, but most of them are not. Here are some of the responses I come across regularly as an economics major.


Such a small noise that says so much. It has come from friends, peers and strangers in my life. In most cases it’s just teasing, but there’s always a bit of truth behind it. From what everyone I ask tells me, a lot of people have had some sort of run-in with economics that left them wanting to know less than what they started with; it’s a weird case of supply and demand.

“Economics is gross.”

She was a student from Cincinnati: A business major, same as my original degree. We were on a tour of Waverly Hills Sanatorium and had ended up on the roof with our friends. The girl and her friend were intrigued by the German major, charmed by the communications major, and disgusted by me, the economics major. She literally turned away and held her stomach as she talked about how much she hated the subject. Apparently she’d had a bad experience in an econ class that made economics scarier than being in a supposedly haunted hospital.

“Well, someone has to do those kinds of jobs.”

No one dreams of growing up to be an economist. At least that’s what some random old man in Nova Scotia seemed to think. He came to the door of our motel room to introduce himself. He told us about his life then asked me and my family about ours. He spoke of how important my mom’s work as a nurse is. When my brother said that he’s a graduate student of piano performance, the stranger’s face lit up with the joy of a million Beethoven sonatas. But he looked incredibly bored when I said that I was majoring in economics, and didn’t really have anything positive to say.

“You should do something more feminine.”

I was on the phone with a relative. She had asked me about school and what I was doing. I told her about a project I was doing and about how I loved the data in the project. She cut me off. She asked why I didn’t want to become a nurse like my mom or something more feminine like a teacher. I could contribute to society. But, that’s not what I love to do. I love learning about data. I love learning about markets and how money moves. I love graphing everything, even if it shouldn’t be able to be graphed. But she seemed to think that the doors to the classrooms where you do those things were closed with a “NO GIRLS ALLOWED” sign hanging on them.

“You should be an econ major.”

I haven’t heard it a lot, but I’ve heard it enough. It has come from professors and my closest friends. Despite all of the conversations where my major hasn’t been built up, the times that it has been have meant the world to me. These moments have been the encouragement I’ve needed to continue the pursuit of what I love to do, economics.