Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both/and be one traveler, long I stood
and looked down one as far as I could…
—From “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost
Although it’s highly unlikely that poet Robert Frost had undergraduate majors and occupations in mind when he wrote “The Road Not Taken,” his poem offers insight on the link between the two. The bottom line: The path you take as an undergraduate matters, but your major is just one of many decisions that contribute to your occupational choices.
“Your choice of major is not as closely linked to your occupation as most people imagine,” says Emily Bardeen, director of Alumni Career Services. “For example, the business world draws students from across the University, not just the Comm School. And your choice of undergraduate major doesn’t limit you to a certain occupation. Look at governmental studies majors, for instance. They aren’t all going into government service.”
Impact of Major on Occupation
The interactive graphic below was created with data from the University’s Office of Institutional Assessment, which surveyed alumni who have graduated two, five and ten years ago. The graphic gives a broad-brush view of how interests and competencies, in addition to choice of major, have led these alumni to a variety of occupations. Undergraduate majors are on the left side of the circle; clusters of occupations are on the right.
Mouse over the labels to highlight that particular major or occupation. Click the smaller image to reset to view the compilation.