The biggest decision that you make when you head to college is this: What major will you pursue? While it would be nice to follow your passion, and get a degree in something you love, and that you think would be fun, you also need to look at reality.
Recently, I read an article about the worst college majors for a career. There are majors out there that result in high unemployment and a low salary. That means it’s hard to get a job — especially one that pays decently. With the new career landscape, it’s important that any education you receive is leveraged in a way that is most beneficial, depending on what you hope to accomplish. Here are some things to consider as you choose your college major:
1. Realistically, What Can You DO With Your Major?
Be realistic about what you can do with your major. Yes, if you choose anthropology as a major you can learn about ancient civilizations. But what kind of career can you realistically expect? How many working anthropologists are there? And, once you get your anthropology degree, what else can you do with it? Does anthropology transfer to other career fields with any sort of ease? According to the article, anthropology majors are 2.1 times more likely than average to be working in retail.
Many people joke about my communications degree, but it didn’t make the list, and you can develop skills that can be transferred to a variety of career fields, from media jobs to PR jobs to freelancing. Think about the reality of what you can do with your major, and how likely you are to find actual work that utilizes those skills.
2. Will You Make Enough Money to Be Worth the Cost?
Another consideration is whether or not you will be able to make enough money to repay your student loan debts. There is a debate going on right now about the worth of a college degree. When you’re done with your degree, will you be able to afford the costs? This question is especially important when you move on to graduate school. You have to ask yourself:
- Can I honestly expect to make enough money to make this worth it?
- Are there really jobs out there in this field?
- Does the potential bump in salary justify the expense?
Some degrees are more valuable than others; that’s just the way it is. The market places a premium on certain skills and education. Take that into consideration as you choose your college major.
3. Will You Be Able to Live Your Desired Lifestyle?
Most people don’t become teachers for the money. Instead, they choose that profession for the lifestyle. Longer vacations for holidays, and summers off, can be a lure for many people. Think about whether or not your degree will help you achieve your desired lifestyle. I’m a freelancer working online because I like the flexibility and location independence. My husband is a college professor because he enjoys interacting with students and teaching. Our degrees allowed us to make connections and develop skills that allow us to live the lifestyle we want as a result of the work we do.
Consider, too, that you might be able to enjoy some of your hobbies without getting a degree in those areas. One of the pieces of advice I received in college was this: Choose a major that will make you money, and a minor that you enjoy. I never became a music performance/fine arts major, but I still like music and playing instruments. You can always keep up with your passions on the side if they don’t make sense for your college degree.
What do you think? Should you choose a college degree based on passion? Or on money?