The least and most valuable college majors revealed
Published: Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Graduation season has finally rolled around and new packs of college graduates are being thrown from the nest and into the real world. The last few years have been difficult for college graduates who have found themselves facing challenges their parents and grandparents did not have to face, including a deep economic recession and record levels of college debt. While some have found success in life after college, others have struggled to market their degrees in this tough economic environment, posing the question: All are degrees worth the same?
Last month, The Daily Beast released a study based on research from Georgetown University ranking the most “useful” and “useless” college majors. The university’s research team drew from two years of census data to determine the prospects for myriad majors, narrowing down their list to over three dozen popular college majors. Stemming off of Georgetown’s research, The Daily Beast used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics equally weighing the following categories to determine current and future employment and earnings potential for their final ranking: recent graduate employment, experienced graduate employment, recent graduate earnings, experienced graduate earnings and projected growth in total number of jobs between 2010 and 2020.
It is no secret that a college degree is not a pass to financial stability, but in the past few years, conditions for college graduates have been bleak, if not nonexistent. According to research from Georgetown University, unemployment for students with new Bachelor’s degrees is an unacceptable 8.9 percent, and the combined unemployment rate for both recent college graduates and experienced Bachelor’s degree holders is 5 percent.
While the research from Georgetown is alarming, it has brought questions regarding the value of college majors to the forefront, claiming “not every degree is created equal.”
Among the most “useless” majors, journalism debuted as the eighth worst major for college students to pursue out of a list of 13 popular majors considered to have the least value according to job opportunity and earnings statistics.
Bruce Evensen, a professor in DePaul’s College of Communication, said he believes the field of journalism is evolving to meet the growing needs of the Information Age.
“So the playing field is changing. Historians call this the Information Age for a reason. Digital technology has made it so. It has led to the democratization of information. It is creating careers in social media that were unexpected and unheard of even a few years ago,” Evensen said.
Evensen feels passionately about the importance of journalism and the opportunity to have it as a major in college.
“Step by step, day by day, [the current college generation] will be re-casting and re-modeling journalism to adapt to the challenges and opportunities of the new and emerging marketplace,” Evensen said.
Evensen feels that journalism students have a lot of options and opportunities after college. “At the center of that information exchange will be trained journalists. They’ll be called journalists, but they’ll also be called content providers, they’ll be called producers, they’ll be called writers. They may work in news organizations, they may work in niche publications, they make work for profits, they may work for non-profits, they may work in media relations, and they may work for the government,” Evensen said.
Shamil C. Clay, who will walk across the stage this June to receive her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, said although journalism has been considered a dying field and among the worst college majors to pursue, she wouldn’t change her major because it has always been a part of her.
“My major gave me a range of options provided that communications is a broad field,” Clay said. “I’ve always been a communications person in my professional life, therefore, my choice in what major I pursued in college was easy.”
Clay said she plans to move to Los Angeles after her graduation to work for an advertisement company. She said her hard work has made all the difference.
“Degrees are only worth what you put into it,” Clay said. “You can have a technology or commerce degree and not do anything with it. In other words, degrees do not have a life of its own and cannot perform on its own — it’s the person, the drive, the passion and opportunities; they all work together.”
Computer Science ranked in fifth place among the 13 most useful college majors, which makes perfect sense in a world where computers and technology dictate our lives.
“Computers are ubiquitous. They are in every place and in every profession,” said Martin Kalin, professor and associate dean of the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University. “Phones are becoming glorified computers.”
Most computer science graduates predominantly enter the field of software development or programming, according to Kalin.
“Computer Science has a very strong professional orientation. It is designed to allow students to find jobs and very good jobs at graduation,” Kalin said.