The Least Important Question You Can Ask A College Student

And what to ask instead.

This fall, freshmen around the country are entering their universities for the first time. From the moment they set foot on campus, they're bombarded with the same question: What's your major?

“You’re going to get asked that question as if it’s the most important question you’ll ever be asked in your life,” says entrepreneur Wes Moore. “And the message that I always want to share is, it’s not, though.”

Moore has a list of credentials a mile long: army combat veteran, Rhodes Scholar, White House staffer, Wall Street investment banker and New York Times best-selling author. “I finished my undergrad experience 14 years ago,” he says. “And no one ever asked me, ‘So, Wes, what did you major in in college?’”

The problem, as he explains in a “SuperSoul Sunday” interview with Oprah, happens when these students enter the workforce. In his latest book, The Work, Moore quotes author and anthropologist David Graeber. “Huge swaths of people spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul.” 

“Because the world doesn’t really care [what your major was],” Oprah agrees. “They want to know, ‘What are you going to do? What is your real work?’”

“That’s right,” Moore says. “And who you will fight for? Who will matter to you when it might just be you two standing there first. Because that’s the thing everyone will always remember about you. Your job will change, your occupation will change and all this kind of stuff. But your work, that stays consistent. And that’s what people are going to always remember when it comes time to think about what was your impact on this planet?”




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