Why I Think You Should Avoid “Top 10 Money-Making Majors” Lists

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I have an issue with those articles that promote the “Most Lucrative Majors” or the “Highest Paying Majors” and so on. You know the ones, right? More specifically, this one from Forbes.com that says “Most valuable” when speaking about majors. Of course they mean salary-wise as each one has the median and mid-career pay. While I know salary is very important (as we all need money), I feel that these lists can really inhibit students choices in majors.

First of all, what does the word “valuable” mean to each person? Yes, money brings value to an individual’s life, but there are other things worth value as well. I value many things in my life that don’t make me a single dollar at the end of the day. Is putting value on your salary potential really the answer? Maybe for some, but not for me.

These “Top 10” Lists are KILLING the arts, social sciences, and humanities. We need people in this world who desire to teach history, art, and English among other subjects. We need people who strive to become psychologists and social workers. Our world needs artists and musicians who do not choose their major because it will make them money, but because it  makes them happy. Most importantly, we need students to choose majors that they LOVE because the subject ignites something within them besides little dollar signs.

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Are there people who love computer science, physics, and petroleum engineering? Yes, I am sure there are. But why don’t we try classifying majors by overall value based on student opinion and not based on salary? If the lists weren’t so numerous I wouldn’t say anything about them, but there is an extensive list on Google of the same majors being promoted because of money-making possibilities. This is NOT the answer to college success. This is not the answer to promoting learning for learning’s sake.

So students, as someone who is at the tail-end of a Bachelor’s degree in a major that is NEVER on this list, I have this to say: choose a major that you enjoy and that you have a passion for. If that happens to be computer science, awesome! But if you LOVE history or painting or creative writing, explore those options too! Don’t allow a dollar sign to inhibit your choices because true value covers more than your salary. 

I want to know: Did you choose your major based upon income potential? Or because you had a passion for the subject area? Or both?

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