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How to Pick the Best College Major for You

Background

Is college still worth it? Signs point to yes: The 2011 unemployment rate for recent college graduates with bachelor’s degrees (9 percent) is much lower than for those with only a high school diploma (23 percent).

But deciding on a major can be just as important as deciding to go to college. A 2011 Georgetown University study suggests that while college graduates are more likely to be employed than those without a college diploma, not all degrees are created equal.

There are significant differences in current and projected employment rates as well as earnings among majors.

Looking at national 2009-10 data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the lowest unemployment rates are found among recent and experienced college graduates who majored in education, health or agriculture and natural resources. [See the full list here.] The highest unemployment rates were for architecture, arts and humanities majors.

The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services also publishes a list it calls the “Buckeye Top 50.” The list shows the 50 “high-wage” jobs the state thinks will see the most growth in Ohio from 2008-2018, and shows the education necessary to land them.

But many college career counselors encourage students to “follow their dreams,” even if they don’t lead to a traditional job or “safe” career path. Their thinking: Students who enjoy their classes are more likely to excel in them, and doesn’t that make for a much better “college experience?”

 

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