Salary Shouldn’t Be A Factor When Choosing A College Major

“Help! My daughter wants to become an English Professor

She has all the smarts and talents she would need to become a doctor, lawyer, investment banker, or any other stable, well paid professional.

…but she wants to get a PhD and become an English professor.
…because she really loves English literature and is really good at it.

Should I encourage her? support her? discourage her? start saving a lot of money so that she has a good inheritance lined up?

The reason I ask is I don’t want her to complain to me when she is 40 and being abused by some college that I should have knocked some sense into her when she was 20 and ‘forced’ her to go into something more lucrative.“

Dilemma: Salary vs. Happiness…

I came across this comment on a popular college forum the other day and it inspired to write this post. A lot of high school students select their college major based on which careers make the most money and is the most “stable,”…but is this methodology the best approach?

As you can tell from the frantic tone of this mom’s comment above, a lot of parents still encourage their kids to select a college major based on the profession’s average salary and prestige, rather than encouraging the kid to select a major they are genuinely interested in.

Here’s The Truth About “Stable” Careers

While society teaches us that accountants, doctors, lawyers, engineers, or investment bankers are the only ones who can become successful – this is totally NOT TRUE. The degree in itself does not make a person successful; the person makes him or herself successful.

If you’re doing something that you really love, you will go the extra mile and put in the additional effort to create a stable life for yourself.

Besides, What Is A “Stable” Career?

With the shift in the economy, there seems to be some uncertainty as to which professions are actually stable. There are tons of lawyers who are drowning in student loan debt and still can’t find a job. While those lawyers who do have jobs work very long, stressful hours.

This same holds true for accountants and most other business professions, including investment banking.

Additionally, doctors are usually drowning in student loan debt and have to pay malpractice insurance costs, which significantly reduces their salary.

Is Any Career Truly As “Stable” As We Think?

In any career that we pursue, there is a certain level of risk – Will the economy (or the company I work for) continue to be profitable? Will I get laid off?

However, these risks will be present in any career field that we choose, whether it be education, medicine, or business. So is any career truly as “stable” as we may think?

Here’s what another mom had to say in response to the quote in the beginning of the post:

“I, like you, wish my kids would find careers that they love, that utilize their talents, and that allow for a comfortable home life with some amount of free time to pursue other areas of interest in their lives – and that allow them to support themselves without a lot of financial struggles. It’s very difficult to imagine what jobs will guarantee that life.

What High Schools Can Do To Help

There are tons of great high schools across the United States that do a great job at encouraging students to attend college after high school, BUT a lot of high schools can do a better job at educating students about their career options.

If high schools focused more attention on helping students select a college major that is in alignment with their interests, then students would probably be more successful and happier in their career in the long-term.

Why You Shouldn’t Choose “Stability” over Happiness…

 “Mom pushed my sister and me to major in “practical” careers w/ long term stability. Sis majored in Elem. Ed. I majored in Nursing. Neither of us really liked it and quit those fields after working a couple of years. Sis really wanted to major in something Art related and I really wanted to major in journalism or something related to writing. We were discouraged to do so because it wasn’t practical. I’ll always regret it.”

 How You Can Research Various Careers

If you’re not sure what to major in, it’s okay. CLICK HERE to learn how students can quickly research careers.

I hope this information was helpful. Please leave me your feedback and comments below.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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