Don't Make a Major Mistake: How to Choose a College Degree
The stakes weren't as high, either. The average cost of tuition alone in 1980 for a 4-year public institution was about $10,000 total, compared to today's price tag of $64,000. That, coupled with the challenge of finding a job, any job, in our current economy can make choosing a degree that is marketable yet intellectually stimulating a challenge.
A recent NPR story highlighted the lack of guidance that students face; college advisors generally will help with requirements for graduation, but offer little advice for long term employment prospects for a given major. The piece mentioned a new report from Georgetown University that focuses on college majors, unemployment and earning potential. Anthony Carnevale, one of the authors, says, "It is time in the American education system, given its cost, given the fact that most of us now require it to get a decent job, to align it much more carefully with job prospects."
The answer may be in a bill called The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, which would require universities to reveal the earnings and types of jobs of the school's alumni. Sponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), this legislation would allow students to make critical decisions based on facts.
Like most proposed legislation, however, the chances of it passing are slim. By happy chance, however, the Denver Public Library can suggest many comparable resources:
Occupational Outlook Handbook - From the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the OOH profiles hundreds of occupations and descibes what they do, how to become one, median pay, job outlook and contacts for more information.
Occupational Outlook Quarterly - Practical and straightforward information on career and work related subjects. View "snippets" of articles before downloading the lengthy PDFs. Don't miss "You're a What?" for inspiration if you crave an unusual job.
Worst College Majors for Your Career - Learn why Kiplinger wants you to think twice before majoring in Anthropology.
State Occupational Projections by Projections Central - Long term projections of occupations for each state (short term projections coming soon).
Princeton Review Career Profile - You have to create a free account for this one, but it's worth the extra effort - choose a profession and see A Day in the Life (which features interviews with people on the job) as well as Quality of Life, Present & Future and Facts & Figures.
10 Best College Majors for Your Personality (2011) by Laurence Shatkin
Panicked Student's Guide to Choosing a College Major: How to Confidently Pick Your Ideal Path (2011) by Laurence Shatkin
Book of Majors 2013 (2012) by the College Board
Encyclopedia of Careers and Vocational Guidance (2011) by Ferguson Publishing