You can imagine that many are in health care, the sciences, engineering, technology, and business. Then there are countless others that are included in the list of untouchables – degrees you should chase safely by chasing them inexpensively.
How much choice do you have?
Anti-college debt rants are common in the personal finance blogosphere. Despite being the most straightforward way to borrow money ever (seriously), student loans seem to lead people into the most trouble. Of course, selling something to an excited 18 year old who won’t realize the true cost 10 years from now is probably the easiest job in the world. And so the hatred then filters into colleges, college choice, and of course the choice of a major.
We mostly hear from:
- People who went to school to study something that both interested them and offered opportunities for a successful career.
- People who went to school to study something that interested them but did not offer opportunities for a successful career.
Interestingly, we don’t hear too much from people who went to college to study something they weren’t interested in solely for the almighty greenback. In fact, I don’t think I know anyone who went off to college to major in something they weren’t interested in to get a degree that would land them a good paying job.
I got lucky
In many ways I got lucky – I’m interested in something that potentially leads to good paying jobs. I wasn’t ever much for the arts, or the idea of teaching youngsters, so I’m also lucky in that way. I never had to face the difficult decision of going to school for something I didn’t really care about all for the sake of making more money later. Worst case scenario is that I get paid too much money to do Excel work that people can’t stand doing. That’s not that bad of a worst case scenario.
In many other ways, all the doctors, engineers, accountants, etc. of the world also got lucky. Their first choice was a good choice – a choice that provided real economic returns on capital.
But I can’t imagine being someone interested in art and choosing to study medicine, engineering, or the boring business of accounting for every last penny in a billion-dollar business. I can’t imagine how painful that might be.
And although it’s easy to give people a hard time for choosing “bad” subjects to study, maybe we should at least recognize that for us – the people who had a “good” choice as a first choice – had an easy advantage.
I’m curious – do you know anyone who studied something they didn’t find interesting solely for the money? Anyone care to admit they absolutely hated their studies and what they do for a living but do it only for the money?