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Do People Consider The Economy When Choosing a Major? A No Statistic Discussion of the Topic

Considering I graduated from college in 2003 and law school in 2006 I feel like I am pretty far removed from academia.  That became even more evident when I went to my younger brother’s MBA Graduation Ceremony.  He received his MBA from where I received my undergraduate degree and if you think I enjoy life now then back then can only be described as crazy, but I digress.  At this particular ceremony was not only those graduating with their MBA, but also those graduating with their Masters in Education and Masters in Human & Health Services.  I am not exactly sure what one does with the latter Masters, but I can only assume those graduating with a Masters in Education were going to become teachers.

This lead to a very simple question for all those recent Grads out there,

Did the Current Economy Come into Consideration When You Chose Your Major?

I am not interested in discussion specific majors or professions, like teaching, as such I am not going to research any statistics.  I think non-statistic based discussions can often  provide logical arguments without all the pressure of determining the basis of the studies.

Why I would Consider the Current Economy When Choosing a Major

Your first “real” job out of school is probably going to depend on the major you chose.  Will the fourth or eighth? Probably not, but that first one will or you wouldn’t have chosen it! That is, if you even get your “first” job.  Maybe the current economy is now the new economy.  For example, is it possible the major you chose is in a changing or dying field?  Take the aforementioned teachers for example.  I don’t think the “heyday” of teaching is ever going to return.  Governments have less and less money to spend on teachers (regardless of whether you think this is the right move) and the job security you think you had is gone…is that still the major for you?  Would you still choose teaching if they take away those pensions? What about Tenure?

Take it away from the grim, we will assume assume that you can find a job and that it isn’t changing in any major way – is it possible that while you love your classes you hate the jobs associated with your field.  For example, lets say you loved your communication classes and thus became a Public Relations major (The Wife’s Path)….but given she had no interest in starting at the bottom working events 15 hours a day she may have benefited from a different major.

Similarly, maybe your major won’t provide you with your definition of success.  There are few social workers that make large fortunes so if your goal is money then maybe social work isn’t the right path.  Alternatively, lets say your definition of success is academic praise then maybe a finance degree is likely not going to lead to a whole lot of opportunity for scholarly papers.

Why I wouldn’t Consider the Current Economy When Choosing a Major

First thing is first, things change.  Just because it is tough for those in real estate heavy majors (whether that is building or financing) doesn’t mean it always will be.  Actually, one may be even able to argue that this would be a perfect time to jump into that major since by the time you are done with your studies hopefully the economy will turn around and you can be there willing and waiting.

If you are happy then success will follow.  If you are smiling everyday and loving whatever you are doing, I believe it is likely that success, however, you define it will follow.

Lastly, College is 4 years, enjoy what you are studying regardless of what you plan on doing later on.  How many of us know people that are doing something meaningful with their life that has absolutely NOTHING to do with their major? College is 4 years enjoy what you are studying as the discipline and critical thinking are the two most important items you’ll pull out of school.


Alright end of random thoughts strung together loosely.


Did you consider the economy when you chose your major? What was your Major? Are you doing ANYTHING associated with your major?



  1. No. Because I did what I was good at and what I wanted to do. I don’t care if other people think it’s a “worthless” major. The “worth something” majors would have been useless to me, because I wouldn’t have been able to get good enough grades to even stay in school. I’m not a science/math/doctor person. I’m interested in what I majored in.

    I don’t particularly care what people think of my major, but I am sick of ignorant people asking me “what will you do with THAT?” as though college is a vocational school (it’s not).

    • Fair response, but to play devil’s advocate for a moment…It wasn’t like College was free there has to be a pay off in the end or it was just wasted money, No?

      • No. It wasn’t. I learned a lot. College isn’t just about getting a job after graduation, it’s about learning. That’s why it’s called school.

        • If you go to school and follow your passion, regardless of whether the economy is favoring your niche interest you can still succeed. Your passion and love for your chosen field of interest will keep you flying high above your ‘average’ fellow students and career peers. Before you know it, the money will follow your heart.

  2. I don’t work in a field related to my major,but that’s because the idealistic political person I was in college turned out to be a different person at 30. So, I did work in my major, at first, but then life’s second degree showed me otherwise.

  3. I did not consider the economy when I choose my major. I thought I knew what I wanted to do, and if I had stuck with it, I would probably still be doing it and making a good chunk of change. I graduated in 2004 with a BS in Aeronautical Engineering from a Top 4 school in that field of study. Finding a job wasn’t a problem and from my understanding never was much a problem when things in the economy went south.

    I think most of that is due to it being a highly respected program among employers and the fact that most students help out with research or do multiple internships so they are highly prepared for the job market.

    • I think you were one of the lucky ones that didn’t have to choose between something you loved and something that allows you to be successful both in happiness and in dollar terms.

      Are you basically a rocket scientist? lol

  4. I think you should pick a major that you enjoy and will excel with good grades. It should be in a career that has some upside or demand.

    Why did you go to law school? We have too many lawyers as it stands. In the interest of full disclosure, my son is a lawyer.

      • Tsk Tsk C…I wasn’t attacking No need to be defensive.

        Krant, I went to Law School because the thought of representing others in some aspect of their life excited me…still does today.

  5. I entered college in 2005 as an undeclared major knowing I’d major in something business related because I am very business minded and love it. My Sophomore year I was a Management major but quickly realized it was considered a joke and the job prospects weren’t great. I figured I would learn more as an accounting major and that is what I picked. I am working in accounting today and am glad I picked my major. If I had picked management I can pretty surely say that I wouldn’t be where I am at today.

  6. I didn’t consider the economy at all when I picked Animal Science as a major. I chose something I loved and already knew I could be successful in my career because I had already been running my own pet sitting business started as a junior in high school. I didn’t need a degree to be successful in my career but my tuition was free(benefit of my mom working for the university) so why not study in my field. If I would of had to pay for college I wouldn’t have wasted the money and would still be successful.

  7. I studied psychology and human communications and became a dancer/actor/commentator. Things change… People change… The times will change.

  8. Here’s where you really have to consider your major – when you are potentially getting into a ridiculous amount of debt for a degree whole fields won’t pay you enough to cover that debt.

    I think a lot of people end up in different fields than their major. In many ways a college degree is just a barrier to entry – you won’t be considered without one.

    Did I consider the economy for my degree? Well, I kind of cheat the question since I have an economics degree. Though I hardly work in economics (though we all work with supply and demand in some way, don’t we?).

  9. I’m glad you presented both sides of this because I’m not sure what the correct answer is. I would love to give the answer: “no – just do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Unfortunately, that’s not going to work for the majority of people. We do have to make choices based on the external forces around us.

  10. They absolutely do.

    Right now health care-related majors are very popular, because that’s where the jobs are. Every semester about a third of my students are nursing, physical therapy, and premed majors. Because they’re attending a junior college, many others of my students are in programs that will train them for health industry-related jobs such as pharmacy technician, phlebotomist, X-ray technician, EMT, and the like.

    And right now my son is taking undergrad prereqs for the master of medical science, which will qualify him as a physician’s assistant — not because he especially craves to be a PA, but because his B.A. from a very expensive liberal arts school has him stuck in a miserable dead-end job and he figures that with the baby boomers poised to inflict 20 or 30 years of heavy-duty demand on the health care system, that’s where the best jobs for younger people are likely to be.

    Too many college graduates have landed in the real world and discovered a major in the subject they “love” dooms them to an entirely unlovable career. The upcoming generation of college students, possibly because the outrageous tuition costs have focused their attention, are aware of this and are much more cautious about what they choose to study.

  11. No, I didn’t. I was going to go to school to study finance without regard for what the economy was doing.

  12. No, I didn’t. My field of study is Massage Therapy. I love everything about it and honestly have never met anyone who so passionately loves their work as MT’s. I’m graduating soon, looking forward to a career where I plan to eventually work for myself. Regardless of economical conditions, I fully intend to make use of my knowledge.

    It must be noted of course, that this is a growing field and projected to continue growing despite economic downturn as of late. These stats are something I noted after already having started my program. Then again, this isn’t a 4 year degree, so perhaps it isn’t quite the same thing as you were originally writing.


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