College Majors: Follow the Heart or Follow the Money?

By Darrin Brown, Jr.
UJW Staff Writer

SPRINGDALE, Md. – In the whirlwind that is most commonly known as senior year, it is almost impossible for a high school senior to go a few days without the question “What are you going to major in?”

But is this economy—with an unemployment rate above 8 percent–requiring students to give that question another thought before answering it?

As students make many important decisions with the constant reminder of others opinions, the decision on what to major in is not an easy one.

Some parents, teachers and counselors to advise students to pursue a degree in science or math because it will likely be easier to get a job after graduation.

Others, however, combat that idea by saying that no matter what, students should always do what they love–even if it doesn’t pay off immediately.

Tom Scercy, who is the Science and Technology Coordinator at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Springdale, Md., said he hopes that many students go into the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

“If you look at the statistics, they’re hiring,” he said.

According to a 2010 report by from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration, there were 7.6 million STEM workers in the United States, which represents 1 in 18 workers. Scercy added there is special scholarship money for minorities and women who are pursuing those degrees.

The unemployment rate among students that majored in non-technical fields is generally higher than that of who majored in STEM-related fields.

College graduates with an arts degree have a 11.1 percent unemployment rate and liberal arts majors have a 9.4 percent rate, While the unemployment rate as of 2010 for those with jobs in STEM is 5.3 percent according to a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

Students have to decide whether or not they will decide to pursue the major that will lead them to their dream career, even if it is not a good prospect for an immediate job.

So should students just grin and bare it while pursuing a degree in one of the STEM fields, even if they don’t desire to?

“No,” said Chauntia Bego, a biology teacher at Charles H. Flowers High School.

Bego, who earned a Biology and Technology degree from Morgan State University in Baltimore, agrees with Scercy that majoring in one of those degrees does put you in a better position to be hired.

But she warns that a student should not pursue one of these degrees if they are not interested in it because “they are not going to put the work in.”

Deshonta Robinson, a mathematics teacher at Charles Herbert Flowers High School, recognizes that her profession as a teacher doesn’t provide a lavish lifestyle but says that you have to be passionate about what you do.

D. Rob., as her students past, and present affectionately call her ,teaches because she loves math and she loves kids.

“Something that you like, you can grow to hate, but something that you love you will always come back to,” she said.

Robinson’s advice is that students who are struggling to decide on a major “major in something that you love.”

Combining your passion, and a major that will guarantee a job is what Nicole Dyke , a senior at Flowers High School, suggests.

Nicole, who is going to Morgan State in the fall, is majoring in Secondary Education Chemistry because she loves chemistry and “there will always be a job for teachers,” she says.


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