If your child is getting ready to go to college soon – or has just started – the question of choosing the right major is a priority.  Lots of times students listen to the advice of their parents – “Go into engineering or economics, you’ll make a great living for yourself.”

But does choosing a quantitative major ensure financial success?  

And does choosing a Liberal Arts degree ensure that one will receive a mediocre income over one’s lifetime?

The answer is NO to both questions.  

In the recent article, “It’s Time to Change the Conversations on Majors and Income” by Inside Higher Ed*, it shows that for every major, there is a distribution of earnings.   There are low earners, average earners and high earners within each major.  If your son or daughter is an amazing writer and wants to pursue an English degree, he or she may earn at the top of his field.  However, if he or she feels forced to choose economics and is disinterested in that field, he or she may perform at the bottom of the distribution curve.  

The article points out that typically by the time a student is in high school, his or her skills and interests are often already formed.   If a student is encouraged to follow their interests and choose a major that is aligned to their already developed talents and interests, there’s a greater chance they will continue to grow in the field, contributing more, and earning more.  

If your child is contemplating majors at this point, ask them these three questions:

  1. Would you enjoy learning about this subject in your spare time, just for fun?
  2. Do you see yourself becoming a major contributor in this field, growing and developing your skills and knowledge?
  3. If choosing between two majors, ask:  which one would you choose if the starting and ending salary was exactly the same?

I hope you found this article helpful.  If you need any assistance from me in terms of College Planning or Financial Planning in general, please set up a meeting by finding a time in my calendar.