Date
24 March 2017
Would Lauren Kay have found it difficult to be hired with her unconventional major? No matter, she became her own boss and started up a dating website that drew on what she learned at college. Photo: giveliveexplore.com
Would Lauren Kay have found it difficult to be hired with her unconventional major? No matter, she became her own boss and started up a dating website that drew on what she learned at college. Photo: giveliveexplore.com

All you need is love: US college students pick off-beat majors

Most Hong Kong parents would be pleased if their offspring decided to major in medicine, law or finance at university.

But some of the college majors students are choosing in the United States would raise the eyebrows, if not the hair, of these parents.

Take Lauren Kay, who graduated from Ivy League school Brown University, for instance.

She designed her own major there and called it “love”.

“I tried all the social sciences, and I didn’t really like the very narrow approach that each branch took,” Kay, 26, told The Wall Street Journal.

She decided to bundle classes dealing with love and relationships across departments like sociology, psychology and literature into a major, a path not uncommon at liberal-arts colleges like Brown.

Kay was able to analyze romantic literature and conduct survey-based experiments on other Brown students’ sexual experiences.

After graduating, Kay put what she had learned into practice and founded a subscription dating website called Dating Ring.

In its first two years, her site attracted more than US$350,000 in venture capital, including investments from tech incubator YCombinator, the newspaper reported.

US Education Department figures show that most of the fastest-growing majors between 2003 and 2013 were in practical areas, like the health professions, law enforcement, biology and math.

But other students are embracing a wide range of hybrid majors that allow them to pursue off-beat passions like pop culture, “peace studies” and even love.

Schools granted bachelor’s degrees in multi- or interdisciplinary studies to 47,654 students in 2013, a 74 percent jump from 27,449 in 2003.

Carol Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, was quoted as saying some employers are beginning to express enthusiasm for interdisciplinary programs because they can teach students a broad array of analytical skills on a specific topic that engages them.

But Dan Black, director of recruiting for the Americas for consulting firm EY, said students who apply to the firm with preprofessional or technical majors have a definite leg up in the hiring process.

Students who apply with unrelated or even unusual majors need to work harder to demonstrate their technical abilities, he said.

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