What kind of diploma will lead to the best jobs? Trends point toward business degrees, but it's anyone's guess.
By Ana Tintocalis

The U.S. unemployment rate is stuck at 9.1 percent. In that light, what are the “hot” majors among college students today? If you ask college counselors, it’s business degrees.

That’s because today’s business degrees cover a wider range of fields than every before  — everything from accounting to advertising. But more importantly, business majors are more likely to get jobs after college, even in today’s fluctuating economy.

But as industries like technology, medicine, and science continue to make rapid advancements, an increasing number of college students are also signing up for degrees in engineering, computer science, biomedicine, and biological sciences.

According to Career Builder, the most promising majors will be related to cyber-security specialists, mobile application developers, social media managers, stem cell researchers, robotics technicians and simulation engineers.

These jobs didn’t exist 10 years ago. Who’s to know what jobs will exist 10 years from now?

Cathy Davidson, author of Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn (Viking), predicts that “65 percent of today’s grade-school kids may end up doing work that hasn’t been invented yet.”

She says for this generation of grade-school kids, it’s time to redesign American education. “It’s time to survey our lives and figure out what works, what doesn’t, and how we can make real and practical improvements in our schools, our workplace, our every day lives,” Davidson said in a recent interview with MindShift.

For their part, some universities are adapting to current trends by trying to bolster their science, technology, and medical programs – but often at the expense of their liberal arts programs. Across the country, universities are paring back on the humanities. In Florida, for example, the business community has “clamored for a de-emphasis on liberal arts degrees such as philosophy and history toward degrees like engineering and computer science to keep pace with demand,” according to an article in the Sunshine State News. “Businesses recruiting for these high-paid, high-skilled jobs say they have to look out of state to fill positions, and Florida is ranked ‘average’ compared to other states in student preparation for science and math careers,” the article states.

But college counselors are telling liberal arts students to focus on “transferable skills” like verbal communication, analytical and teamwork skills. They say these skills will always be in demand – now and in the future.

“Companies want to mold (students) in their own corporate culture,” says Marcie Kirk-Holland, project manager at the U.C. Davis Internship and Career Center. “So (companies) are looking for people that have these basic abilities … and students have ideally developed that during their time in college.”

For an increasing number of students, they’re open to falling into a job that is not directly in line with what they studied in college, so long as they are making a difference in their life and in the lives of others.

“I want to do something that is worth doing,” says Harrison Noah, a history major at U.C. Davis. “If I can die knowing that my environment or my world was slightly improved because of my presence, I’ll call that a win.”

Hear the full story on The California Report.
  • Jim

    Compare this article with David Brooks’ column on 10/7 about how we are in an “innovation stagnation”.

  • Bonnie Gaudet


    It’s Bonnie Gaudet again from Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. This post reminds me of a video I watched recently – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cL9Wu2kWwSY. While I do agree that it is time for the Education System to be revamped and revised to weed out what doesn’t work, I think it is more important than ever to focus on liberal arts skills. While today’s elementary students are being prepared to work in fields that might not exist until well into the future, they still need to be taught invaluable skills that only the liberal arts can provide. Without philosophy, what basis do we have to teach critical thinking and skepticism, for instance. As much as technology and its uses are key in today’s education system, we also need to remember John Dewey’s stance on preparing students socially.

  • Hi again! It’s Maegan Torres and I am also in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class at South Alabama. Just like Bonnie, this article reminded me of that video. That was actually the very first thing I thought of when I read this article. This article is intriguing, because we do need to redesign the education system and do so fairly quickly. Though this should not be done at the expense of our liberal arts programs. Those are just as important as the math and science, it’s just a matter of proving it. At South Alabama, we are one of the universities scaling back on liberal arts programs, as History classes have been severely reduced. This is sad, because to some people, History is just as important as Math and Science. 

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