Picture this, it’s May 2014 and I am preparing to walk across the stage at my college graduation. Primed and prepped to receive my hard-earned degree in Elementary Education. Fast forward 8 years and I’ve never set foot in an elementary classroom, let alone written a lesson plan. So what changed between then and now?

A recent study found that only 27% of college graduates work in a field related to their major. Instead of moving into a role involving something they studied in college, they’re widely dispersed across a variety of industries and fields, moving in and out of different careers during their first, second, and third jobs.

You’re often taught that the culmination of your college education is summed up by finding a great job in your field of study and staying there until you retire. Unlike the Baby Boomer Generation who will likely stay with the same employer for 20 years, the average person will have 12 jobs in their lifetime, many of which have no relation to their degree field!

So let’s ask the most obvious question, did you waste those four years of your life working towards an irrelevant degree?

Despite what you’ve been taught, your degree doesn’t determine the trajectory of your career. Working towards your degree helps lay the foundation for essential skills that will put you on the path to where you want to be in the future. It also helps you figure out what you are and are not passionate about. 

Generally, those who pursue a job outside their field of study are framed as individuals who are highly motivated, driven, open to and capable of change, and are willing to learn. All of these characteristics lead to great employees!

Straying from the path you had mapped out for your life can be scary, but, take it from a person who walked the road less traveled; it can be the best decision you ever make.