My apologies up front to all those who have already graduated with one of these majors. You already know the unfortunate job search reality of having one these majors on your resume. Most are a path to nowhere specific or at least a very limited path with few entry level jobs.
I will be brutally honest in the assessment of these majors. It is not intended to put down those who have graduated with these majors. I am simply looking at the reality of the entry level job market and the supply and demand related to each of these majors. Our colleges and universities are cranking out far more degrees than there is supply for each of these majors.
- Liberal Arts/Liberal Studies — This broad-based major will take you wide into many areas of study, but unfortunately, deep into nothing specific which will help you find a job. You will be at the mercy of employers who are not major-specific in their requirements for the job. Or grad school. But if you go to grad school, get a degree in something specific to the job market.
- English — Perhaps you planned to write. Or perhaps you planned to teach. Or perhaps you planned to travel. This major will only help you for ESL (English as a Second Language) jobs overseas, where there is decent demand. While that might be a valid option for you for a year or two, it’s not something upon which to base a career. So what exactly did you intend to do with this major in terms of a career? That’s the point, it leads to very little. Change your major before you find yourself unemployed at graduation and filling out grad school applications.
- Humanities — Are there job descriptions which require a degree in Humanities? I’ve never seen one. Not one. Perhaps this will help you get one of the handful of jobs in a museum somewhere.
- Journalism — This used to be a viable career option before the demise of the newspaper industry. Yes, there are still some Journalist jobs out there. But the competition for these jobs is fierce and most openings are filled with experienced journalists with years of experience. Few media outlets are willing to take on entry level talent.
- Art — Perhaps you want to become a starving artist? If yes, then this is a valid major. And perhaps you will be one of the few who actually makes it in the field. For everyone else, it will be a rough road to something else only minimally related, like selling art on cruise ships.
- Music — You may have a love of music and would like to translate it into a career. Most music majors do not perform, nor compose, nor conduct. The best most music majors can hope for is a music teaching gig, either a school that doesn’t require an education degree or teaching students at home. Music is a great minor, but doesn’t typically work well as your sole major.
- Theater Arts — So you want to act. Most actors and actresses don’t go to college to study theater arts. And the odds are very long on making it big in acting. Yet you may be able to find work with summer stock theater and possibly a local theater company. But you will likely end up doing something else for your day job to pay the bills.
- Marketing — I know what you’re thinking: “Wait, that major made the Top Ten Best list as well, didn’t it?” Yes, it did. Here is the difference: if you are open to considering jobs in Sales, it is a Top Ten Best major. If you are not, it is a Top Ten Worst major. There simply are not nearly as many pure marketing or market research positions as there are Marketing graduates. So either think Sales or change your major.
- Public Relations — Yes, there are jobs in public relations. However, most of these who enter the field already have years of experience in the associated industry. So there simply are few, if any, entry level jobs in public relations.
- Management — There are entry level management jobs out there. But not in the fields that most college students anticipate. The entry level management jobs are typically managing blue collar workers in retail, hospitality or food services. These jobs typically involve long hours and working with a less educated workforce. The white collar management jobs are held by those with years of experience in that selected field before being promoted to management. So there is typically not a path to entry level white collar management.
What do you do if you have already graduated with one of the above degrees? If you are considering returning to school and/or getting another degree, now is the time to do so. If you do want to enter the job market, you are going to need to be as flexible as possible in what you will consider. Be open to possibilities you may not have previously considered. Some employers just hire good people regardless of degree. Have flexibility around the job type, industry and geography you will consider. Then you may want to further your education part-time while working to better target your career focus going forward.
So here is a major caveat to all of the above: if you are truly world class in your major (and I mean truly world class, not just that you and your mother think so) and/or are willing to face long periods of unemployment, underemployment and low wages, then go for it. I don’t want to discourage the next great artist or writer or humanitarian. Just know what you are getting into…