Your future is entirely in your hands. That sound stressful at all? Luckily, you don’t have to rely entirely on yourself to decide if things are good or not. Like, say, what you should major in at college because if you’re going, you don’t want to waste time or money.
With that in mind, you should be able to distinguish between a good college major, and a bad one. That distinction can be made by figuring out if a college major is useful or useless. The more useful a major is, the better it is, and the more useless it is, the worse it is.
What makes a College Major Useful or Useless?
Nowadays, people go to college to get a better job once they graduate. Depending on your college major, you can find a good, high-paying job right out of college, while another major might have you serving lattes at Starbucks for $16 an hour the rest of your life. How useful a college major is is mainly dependent on the ability of that major to ensure you a successful future career, and some of the most useless college majors will pretty much guarantee you the opposite of that.
On the other hand, the most useful college majors are the ones that can get you into the broadest range of doors, so try to avoid highly niche majors that lock you into a single career path. However, one thing to keep in mind is that there are no truly “useless” college majors since every major can turn into some good for the student, even if it takes them on a completely different path than what they initially intended to do. As long as you have a college education, you’ll make more money than somebody who only graduated high school ever will.
Top 10 Useless College Majors to Avoid
With the information of a useless college major in mind, let’s dive right into a list of 10 college majors to avoid:
This one should be pretty self-explanatory, but if not, here’s a quick rundown: There is virtually no demand for any graduates with this major, and it provides no useful skills that an employer would look for, making it one of the dumbest college majors.
This may come as a surprise, but most psychology majors end up underemployed, meaning they get paid less than they should for somebody with their education level. This can be attributed to the fact that this is often a worthless degree at the undergraduate level unless followed up with a graduate degree. Also, the market is oversaturated with psychology majors, meaning you’re less likely to be hired.
Much like psychology, this major just isn’t worth it unless you follow it up with a graduate degree because the market is just too competitive due to all the other sociology majors who are just as equally qualified as you for whatever jobs you’re applying for.
Bachelor’s of Arts in Architecture
Not to be confused with the Bachelor’s of Architecture degree, the Bachelor’s of Arts in Architecture (B.A. in Architecture for short) is a 4-year, pre-professional degree of architecture not accredited by the National Architecture Accreditation Board (NAAB). The Bachelor of Architecture is a 5-year, professional degree that’s NAAB accredited. It allows licensure straight out of college, unlike the B.A. in Architecture, which requires additional accreditation in order to be hired, making it a pretty worthless degree in comparison.
Again, this major, more often than not, requires a graduate degree to follow up with, otherwise, the supply and oversaturation of the job market with philosophy majors is just too great to get you anywhere with just an undergraduate degree.
While this major sounds fine at first, almost everything this major does can also be done by a business management major, but the business management major isn’t locked into a singular career choice. A sports management major also only guarantees an entry-level position with recreational, collegiate, and professional sports organizations and nothing more. Sure, the specialization of a sports management degree might appeal to an employer for a team, but so would anything that provides significant experience, like an internship, which is accessible to both the sports and business management majors. The niche-ness of the major makes it one of the more worthless degrees.
Unfortunately, like a lot of other majors on this list, there just isn’t a good enough reason to justify a degree in ethnic studies. There may be an increased demand for diversity these days, with an increased demand for those who can effectively help companies achieve diversity quotas, but the pay is still terrible. The median pay of a person in their early career with an ethnic studies career is around the salary of a McDonald’s manager, but the McDonald’s manager didn’t have to go to college to get that position.
Again, there is an oversaturation of the job market. Expect this to be a common theme whenever somebody says a major is useless because if the demand isn’t there, don’t expect a good salary for your work. Think about how many theatre majors graduate every year, and then think about how all of them are vying for a limited amount of acting positions.
Creative Writing is actually a decent major choice if paired with a minor in English, Communications, or Journalism, but by itself, it doesn’t stand to earn you much in the long term. There is a demand for the major, at least more than Theatre and Ethnic Studies majors, but not enough to keep the salary high enough in order to live comfortably.
Like Creative Writing, you should probably pair this with a minor in English or another major of your choice because it doesn’t stand on its own very well. Education could be a good pairing if you want to become a teacher, but remember that a college degree doesn’t necessarily guarantee a position as a professor of English at a prestigious university; it just raises your chances of getting it.
Top 10 Most Useful College Majors to Consider
Now that the useless college majors are out of the way, here are some of the most useful majors. Expect to see a lot of STEM here since those tend to be the most useful degrees for the future.
A mechanical engineering major is very generalized and can easily lead to many careers, such as aerospace. Because the skills involved with a mechanical engineering major are very broad, they can apply to many different situations, which are appealing to employers.
This is a sought-after major by employers because not too many students pick chemistry as their major. This could be attributed to the fact that chemistry is not exactly an easy subject to study for four years. The scarcity of chemistry majors alone is usually enough incentive for companies to offer high salaries to those brave enough to endure the four years of hardship that come with majoring in chemistry.
Just like chemistry, physics is also a highly sought-after major by employers because, just like chemistry, physics is a scarce major in the job market. Depending on your skillset, physics may or may not be harder than chemistry, so not that many students pick this as a degree pursuit. Again, the scarcity of physics majors is enough for companies to offer high salaries, but the applicability of physics to engineering plays a part in that as well, so it shouldn’t be overlooked.
We live in a technology-driven world, and what better major to get yourself embedded in it than computer science. Knowing how to code is pretty much a baseline for any software engineering job, and the other fields of study that computer science covers will help with any other career in the tech field. The job market in the technology sector is constantly expanding, so there should be no trouble finding work, making this one of the most useful majors on the list so far.
Nurses will always be in demand so long as people are sick, and since there hasn’t been a universal cure-all for every single disease and ailment on planet Earth yet, there shouldn’t be any worry that you’ll find yourself out of a job come the next economic recession. Nursing is also a relatively easy major for the pay grade that it provides, so there won’t be any financial worries either. Unfortunately, nurses do tend to work extremely long hours, so if you were hoping to have free time, you’re straight out of luck. But if you weren’t looking to have a social life and focus solely on a career, you’re in the right place.
You may not have heard of chemical engineering before, but it’s one of the most versatile and useful college majors out there. They deal with a variety of jobs, from waste treatment and management to food processing to advancements in healthcare. They help find ways to efficiently and cheaply mass-produce drugs, chemicals, fertilizers, and more, all of which help improve the quality of life for people around the world. Naturally, that means this major is in high demand, and that means high pay.
If you take a look around at college campuses and interview each student in a health/medicine-related major looking to get into medical school, about half of them will probably say Biology. You could say biology is oversaturated in this job market, but if you’re looking to get into medical school or are willing to specialize after getting the degree, pick biology is a solid major. Specialities include marine biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and more, all of which have the same prerequisites as biology when talking about courses needed.
Mathematics is a challenging major, and for a good reason: Not that many people are good at math. You can kind of tell where this is going, which means that there’s a high demand for math majors, but not enough supply. You may ask how math can apply that much to real life, but as long as you can apply the math major to your career, companies will hire. They’ll take note of the amount of effort it takes to achieve a mathematics major and take it into consideration when considering your work ethic.
Business is a very broad major, which makes it appealing to a broader range of employers. It has a lot of applicable skills for dealing with any business matter, and because pretty much every employer on the market is a business, they will be looking for people who can manage and run it effectively.
Accounting may seem boring and tedious, but it pays extremely well. If you like working with numbers, this and a mathematics major would do well for you and even better if paid together. An accounting degree alone is good enough to land over the $50000 mark for a starting salary, so you can only imagine how much an accounting major coupled with a mathematics major could be making ten years down the line.
5 Important Things to Consider When Choosing a Major
Make sure your major is something that interests you
If you don’t like what you’re studying, why slog through so many classes that you don’t want to take? Pick something that you want to do, but remember the other things to consider as well.
Consider all of your options
There may be some majors that you’ve never even heard of, but they seem like viable alternatives to your current one. If you’re an incoming freshman, it’s okay to take a few courses that aren’t part of your major, since sometimes you’ll prefer those alternative courses instead.
You can always change your major
You aren’t locked into one path your entire college experience. If you prefer those alternative classes because they interest you more, feel free to talk to your academic advisor and see how viable it is for you to switch. Chances are, you can do whatever you want. After all, you’re paying for it.
Pick something that you’d want to do for the rest of your life
Tying in with the last few points, remember to do something that you love, because doing something you hate isn’t conducive to a healthy lifestyle. There’s no shame in changing your major to do something you actually want to do.
Choose something that will be able to support you financially
Lastly, after considering everything else, make sure you can actually support yourself with the major you’re picking. Usually you’ll be able to, but in a few rare instances, you’ll find yourself at a disadvantage compared to high school graduates. So the best thing to do is to find a major that strikes a balance between enjoyment and financial support.
Wrapping Things Up: Most Useless College Majors
Again, even after seeing everything that’s been said so far, remember that there are no genuinely useless college majors. Every single major has a purpose and a career behind them, but the only useless college majors are the ones you don’t finish. Most college graduates work in a field not associated with their major, but still earn more money than those who just graduated high school.
It’s not about what your major is, it’s how you use it. For example, some companies like to recruit from the philosophy majors and turn them into business majors, because they like the way that the philosophy majors think about things. It makes the companies more money because of the smarter decisions being made by the philosophy students, and it makes the philosophy majors more money too, so both sides come out happy.
As long as the major you go for isn’t incredibly niche, there will always be a market for it, so study what you want to do, as long as it makes you happy. But don’t study around too much, since you want to limit the amount of majors you don’t complete, which will save you time and money.