Year over year college graduates have consistently acquired more student-loan debt than their predecessors. The residual effects of the Great Recession and student-loan debt have molded the early years of adulthood for many Millennials. For this generation, making ends meet has resulted in delayed home ownership, car purchases, and marital commitments. These delays are the aftermath of more than a decade of slow economic growth, and by default, no or low paying jobs.

TM-Guide-Ghost-Purple-White-Pencil COLLEGE PENCIL


THE ECONOMICS OF CHOOSING YOUR COLLEGE MAJOR


Introduction

Year over year college graduates have consistently acquired more student-loan debt than their predecessors. The residual effects of the Great Recession and student-loan debt have molded the early years of adulthood for many Millennials. For this generation, making ends meet has resulted in delayed home ownership, car purchases, and marital commitments. These delays are the aftermath of more than a decade of slow economic growth, and by default, no or low paying jobs. In general, the average college graduate earns more than the average high school graduate, however, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York revealed that the median annual wage of the 25th percentile of college graduates is similar to the median annual wage for high school graduates. The conclusion, not all college majors are created equal and may pave the way for college graduates to be unemployed or underemployed (having a job that doesn’t require a college degree). A college major’s effect on earning potential underscores the importance of making an informed decision regarding college major. A thoughtful choice may turn the economic tables to a graduates’ favor.

College Major Inequality

Inequality amongst college majors is a grim reality. It stresses why college applicants should contemplate the economic consequences of their college major choice, because it is a contributing factor in their ability to procure employment and establish financial stability post graduation. Long-term earnings between college majors vary wildly according to a recently published study by Georgetown University. This study analyzed 137 majors and reported highest- and lowest-paid earners. Georgetown University concluded, “In our report, we find that top-paying college majors earn $3.4 million more than the lowest-paying majors over a lifetime.” To view the Georgetown University report click this link: “The Economic Value of College Majors” by Anthony P. Carnevale, Jeff Strohl, and Michelle Melton. This study includes an interactive map for students to explore majors by discipline groups and a search for specific majors reporting their average annual incomes. It also includes interactive tools, a downloadable report, a PowerPoint, and a video. Although annual salary should not be the sole consideration, it should be one of several primary factors for choosing a college major.

Employment

In addition to salary, the ability to procure employment post graduation should be analyzed as well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides projections for employment amongst a vast number of occupations and projections for the fastest growing occupations. Search these projections for occupations you are considering and determine if there will be a demand for your particular area of expertise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projections includes current and projected employment figures, projected percentage employment increases, median annual wages, and education requirements for hundreds of occupations. Choosing a college major where demand exists and is predicted to rise, will increase the probability of finding gainful employment enabling a graduate to reap the financial benefits of their hard-earned degree.

Conclusion

Choosing a college major is hot topic and presents a conundrum for college applicants. Many students grapple with choosing a college major because the possibilities seem endless and the decision is, for lack of a better term, important. The solution lies in soul-searching and researching. Where should college applicants begin? Start by considering annual salary, employment projections, and the best fit for you. Visit College Pencilpedia for additional online resources to help you determine your college major. For more great tips and a step-by-step approach for choosing your college major, purchase “The Ultimate College Application Guide” on Amazon today. Good luck!

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