Ask a College Advisor: What Are Bad College Majors?
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Question: What are bad college majors?
Answer: College majors can't really be defined as "good" or "bad" on their own. However, there are a variety of factors that could make a particular major a bad choice for you depending on your interests and career goals. If you're hoping to declare a major that you won't regret later then keep reading — we've got you covered!
Before choosing a major, take time to consider what is most important to you. Are you looking to graduate with a degree that will give you the most job opportunities or the highest earning potential? Or are you searching for a field that aligns with your interests and skills? These goals may not always be perfectly aligned, so it's helpful to reflect on your priorities to avoid choosing a major that is a bad fit for you.
Lack of Interest
When selecting a major, one of the biggest mistakes to avoid is choosing a field that doesn't interest you. This may sound obvious, but many students experience real pressure from family or society in general to join notably prestigious fields such as medicine or engineering.
Choosing a major because of outside influence can become a real struggle for students who lack passion for the field or are not internally motivated to excel. This is especially the case for many science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs, which often try to "weed out" students in the bottom half of the class. This forces students to change majors if they can't maintain a passing grade.
This trend within STEM programs can create a real challenge for some students who might then be left with a low grade point average trying to recover in a new degree program or struggling to graduate on time.
Instead of choosing a major that sounds great to others, be sure you are passionate about your program of study and have the skills to succeed in that field. While many majors can have great opportunities for financial success and career options, it is more important to be passionate about the field to avoid making it a bad major for you.
Majors With Poor Job Outlooks
Be sure to do your research! Review the most popular college majors to see if your major of choice is in demand in the current market and how much you can expect to earn each year. Don't be completely deterred if your intended field is classified as having a relatively low earning potential, but it's best to make an informed decision with that factor in mind.
Your college degree is an investment in your future earnings, so read up on the availability of jobs in your target field and the average return on investment. Though college degree-holders from any field can typically expect higher weekly earnings and a better chance of employment compared to individuals without a college degree, it's wise to consider your cost of tuition and potential debt in combination with your anticipated future income.
You also may find that graduates of your intended major need an advanced degree, such as a master's or Ph.D., before having many job opportunities in the field. This can often be the case for majors in education, psychology, language studies, social work, and more. If you don't have the desire or finances to obtain an advanced degree just yet, be sure to do your research before declaring your major.
Networking Is Key
To make an informed decision about a potential major, a great way to learn more is to contact professionals in your community and ask for an informational interview. You might be surprised at how many people are open and excited to talk to students about their career journey, which can open the door to invaluable mentorship and guidance — both during your studies and when entering the job market.
Don't Be Afraid to Change Your Major
The National Center for Education Statistics reported that 30% of undergraduate college students from the 2011-2012 academic class changed their major within three years of enrollment. If you are reconsidering your decision, talk to your academic advisor about changing your major. Though it may slow you down a little in the short term, it's often better to make a switch earlier rather than entering a field that doesn't interest you or has a poor return on investment.
At the end of the day, it's most important to pick a major that is a good fit for your individual goals and needs. A perfect major for your classmate may be a bad major for you, so follow your own path instead of comparing yourself to others. After doing your research and establishing your priorities, you'll be able to select a major that is both well-informed and true to yourself.
DISCLAIMER: The responses provided as part of the Ask a College Advisor series are for general informational purposes only. Readers should contact a professional academic, career, or financial advisor before making decisions regarding individual situations.
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