Even though it’s supposed to be the best time in their lives, many college students may disagree.
Students across the country all tell the same story: tuition is soaring, they are taking out thousands of dollars in loans and many are graduating with unpaid internships or part-time jobs.
Given these conditions, one USA TODAY column astutely argues that college students should be realistic about the amount of loans they take out and what they major in.
After all, recent film video and photographic art majors have an unemployment rate of 13% and average annual salary of $30,000, according to a recent study. In contrast, the unemployment rate for recent nursing major grads is 4% and their average salary is $48,000.
The moral of the story? Majors matter.
But does that mean all students should major in business, medicine and law? Absolutely not.
Despite what professors, advisers and cynics may tell you, there is no simple formula for success.
Clinical psychology, what many people would consider a skyrocketing industry, touts a 19.5% unemployment rate, according to the same study. Studio art, however, only has an 8% unemployment rate. International business majors report an 8.5% unemployment rate, while the supposedly oversaturated education industry is only 3.7% unemployed. Go figure.
Studying a creative, daring discipline might be one of the smartest moves to make right now, despite the poor economic forecast.
Of course, technology is one of the most obvious and lucrative pathways. Just consider all the start-ups within the past few years — Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Etsy. (And for that matter, you don’t even have to go to college to be successful. Just look at Steve Jobs.)
But no matter what major students choose, being a go-getter is a successful trait that transcends disciplines.
Take, for example, three Arizona State University grads that avoided sending resume after resume into the black hole of unemployment and opted, rather, to start a bicycle repair shop.
The company’s sales have more than tripled, it has opened three retail stores and it employs nearly 25 people.
College students and many millennials are thought to be the heralds of innovation and entrepreneurship. With the help of social media, the silliest of YouTube videos can turn into money, like the case of Antoine Dodson or the viral hit, The Honey Badger.
And, fully accepting the consequences of being cheesy, there is the age-old advice — do what you love to do.
What college student doesn’t have a recently graduated friend who works 60 hours a week in that corporate “dream job,” has no time for a social life and seems absolutely miserable knowing that this is just the beginning of a very long career?
With the risk of sounding naive, what salary is worth misery?
Even two years after receiving what she believed to be her calling to the ministry, one of my close friends was too ashamed to tell people what she wanted to do with her life.
When she finally told someone she was a religion major going into the Church, they responded, “But what do you want to do with that in the real world?”
As a journalism major myself, I’d like to speak for all other creative or humanities-based majors when I say that they are well aware that their salaries will not be something to brag about. They don’t need anyone to remind them of that.
But what people fail to understand is that after years of advice disdaining their career choices, after years of snide remarks and inner-conflict, students in these “riskier” disciplines have made the intentional choice. They know what they want to do, and they want to make it work.
Who’s to say they will fail?
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