Students consider what majors to pursue in college while taking economic restrictions into consideration
by Hashem Anabtawi, ’15 and Ella Koscher, ’15
You walk across the stage of the university that has been your home for the past four years. The president of the college hands you your college diploma—your college degree. Your parents are proud. You are ready to enter the real world. There’s just one thing holding you down: reality.
With a more competitive job market and common societal desire to make money, earning potential after college has become a larger role in students’ college choices and major decisions, according to USA Today.
A 2014 study by Discover Student loans surveyed 1,000 adults with college-bound children ages 16 to 18. Nearly half of the adults surveyed said “the ability to find employment has become a top factor in deciding what to study.” In addition, 42 percent of parents considered earning potential more important to their child’s education than their major.
UAHS Counselor Matt Biedenbach believes that money should be a factor in a student’s decision process when considering a major.
“I don’t think how much money you can make in a job should be your number one deciding factor, but I definitely think it should be a part of it [and] part of that discussion,” Biedenbach said. “You want to be able to have a career that interests you but also you want to make money so that you can support yourself and a family if that’s part of your goal. And you want to make sure you get into a major that is going to be a need in the job market.”
Senior Joe Huddle has a similar perspective, for the ability to find a job following college is an important factor to consider in reality.
“I would say wage is a big part of your career choice because I wouldn’t want to be stuck in something I couldn’t get a job in or make a living out of to support a family,” Huddle said.
Huddle plans to major in mathematics and engineering as he fosters this passion through extracurricular activities. However, Huddle still believes dreams do have their own importance.
“I think you should always dream farther than reality will let you go because that allows you to go as far as you can go, but if you set your expectations lower than your true potential, then you’ll never reach it,” Huddle said.
In the end, however, Biedenbach also said that interest should trump economic matters in this decision.
“Think about what interests you more than anything else,” Biedenbach said. “If you don’t have an interest in it, it’s going to be hard to develop a passion for it. And hopefully it’s going to be what you are going to be doing for the rest of you life, so find an interest first.”
Junior Kendall Trudeau, though still unsure of her future plans, has set goals to further her current passions despite economic demands.
“Economic demands kind of influence my decision, but I’m committed to doing what I love and furthering that passion in nutrition and how the body works and dream of having my own column someday,” Trudeau said. “I think its really important that you find something that you love to do and then money will follow it.
According to a survey distributed amongst UAHS juniors and seniors, more than 50 percent of students plan to major in a science or math related field, which serve at the top of the list for job dependability and high salary according to USNews. However, for those that don’t rank on the list, such as art and music majors, students may find it more difficult to follow their dreams and have a stable or high paying salary.
Senior Anna Smoot, unlike a majority of her peers, plans to major in the social sciences, hopefully double majoring in political science and international relations, as well as double minoring in French and Arabic. Money is a factor in where she attends college, but not her career choice.
“As much as I would love to go to American University, a college that costs approximately $60,000 a year, it may not be financially possible and/or wise,” Smoot said. “I think money plays a bit of a factor but I do not think it should be a determining factor [when choosing a major]. If you are passionate enough about something, you should be able to find a way to live off of it.”
Smoot, who is passionate in politics and plans to be president one day, has been preparing for her major in high school. She is a member of the Junior State of America, and has challenged herself with classes such as A.P. U.S. History, I.B. History and A.P. U.S. Government.
Though Smoot has a solid idea of her plans for colleges, other high school students feel the pressure of deciding their major.
“I talk with freshmen now and they think ‘oh I’ve got to pick a major and know what to study’ and for whatever reason there’s just a lot more pressure than there used to be,” Biedenbach said. “I wanna make sure students know that now’s the time to explore, now’s the time to consider your options and your interests and there shouldn’t be so much pressure to make a decision in high school. Chances are you might change your mind anyway.”