The Washington Post

Choosing the major you love: Advice from Momspeak columnist Tracy Grant

Should students consider their future salary when choosing a major? (Michelle Lepianka Carter/AP)

Of Grant’s twin sons, one plans to be a computer science major; the other plans to study, and then teach, English. But judging from a study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce titled “Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal.” their careers may bring financial hardship.

“Computer and math majors face an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, not much better than the national average. Education majors face less trouble finding jobs, with a 5.4 percent unemployment rate. But once they get jobs, as Singletary points out, ‘their earnings are also low and only improve marginally with experience and education,’” says Grant.

“By that analysis, my children would get four-year degrees and be back living with me because either they couldn’t get jobs or ones that paid a living wage.”

Grant testifies that establishing a career catered to your interests, as she did, can make you happy, a feeling that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

“What would have happened to me if my blue-collar, immigrant parents had balked when I said I wanted to go to Northwestern University, a hugely expensive school, to study journalism? Even then, it was a poor-paying dinosaur of an industry,” she writes.

“By the Georgetown calculus, my parents made a bad decision. When my first job out of school paid me less than what a year’s tuition cost, that calculus seemed all but confirmed.

I am now 25 years into my career, working at one of the leading media companies in the country and making more money that I ever would have imagined I would. To what do I attribute that success? I love what I do.”

Do you agree with Grant’s perspective? Should students major in subjects they enjoy, even at the risk of facing unemployment or a low-paying job?


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