Not All College Majors Are Created Economically Equal 
Updates 8/18/2016     provided by      pdf for color printing

STEM Majors Have Highest Economic Return Recent Data shows STEM majors get highest salaries. Almost half the workers with bachelor's degrees in STEM fields out-earn workers non Stem Ph.D.'s according to Georgetown's Center on Education and the Workforce" "Workers with associate's degrees in STEM fields out-earn 63 percent of people who have bachelor's degrees in other fields. Current data by major data one provides data by quintile, data two is by major and degree level and data three examines high-paying two year programs. 

You Should Know Degrees that Pay You Back from WSJ is extensive
Stem Crisis or Stem Surplus Yes and Yes

Many experts believe a better educated workforce is the best way to create high paying employment. There are two reasons education is not always the answer. 1) We can not educate average Americans to compete with very well educated, highly intelligent  very ambitious people from countries such as India and Ireland. 2) We cannot educate average Americans to compete with computers. The number of countries using in-sourcing to enhance their economic well-being will grow at an ever increasing rate.  Better computer will continue to replace blue and white collar workers at an ever increasing rate.
Educators in Florida want to increase degrees granted in high job demand, high cost to educate, difficult STEM majors. Students will move from low cost to educate, academically easier majors to high cost academically difficult majors. This goal is not possible and even if it were, budget problems and a tenured faculty will kill it. In the 1970's, New Hampshire wouldn't give their college professors a raise so the professors increased credits awarded per course from three to four and reduced courses taught  from four to three. No raise but time spent in the classroom decreased by 25 percent. "...the idea that you can just have better training and then there are all these jobs, all these places where there are shortages and we just need the trained people is fundamentally an evasion."  " The core problem is that there aren't enough jobs. If you help some people, you could help them get the jobs, but then someone else won't get the jobs. " Lawrence Summers, The Future of Work (2015)
College is a wonderful experience but unless you are really rich or really talented
meaning a college will pay 100% . Don't borrow much. Think CC, living at home, a Coursera certificate with relevant work experience, the military as a first step to becoming a professional...

See Not All College Majors Have a High Economic Return and  See Professor A Financial Aid Advise



We've Known Since the 1990's1 The famous Occupational study of the mid 1990"s reported a poor job market was still experienced by many college graduates 4 years after their 1993 graduation. It was only one of many indicators overcome by marketing. It reported only 62% had jobs requiring a Bachelor's degree and only 55% had jobs related to their major or had career potential. Professional degree holders did better than arts and science majors. 2015 data indicates an even more difficult time for many majors.

1993 Graduates Four Years Later
 by Major

1997 Job Attributes (%)

Bachelor's Degree Required

Job Related 
to Major

Job has Career Potential
All graduates 62% 55% 55%
Professional Fields  68 65 55
Health professions 80 82 55
Engineering 79 60 64
Education 69 67 50
Business and management 57 57 60
Public affairs and social services 55 58 47
Arts and sciences 60% 45% 51%
Mathematics, Computer, sciences 71 63 62
Psychology  64 48 48
Biological sciences 63 51 45
Social science including History 57 33 53
Humanities 50 40 50
 1Four years after graduation: The class of 1993 as published in the Occupational Outlook Quarterly of the U.S. Department of Labor, Winter of 2000-01, p 9. From a nationally representative 11,190 sample of  graduating 7/92 to 6/93.
Economist Paul Krugman and television personality Bill O'Rilley were on Tim Russert show last night hustling their recent books. Mr. Krugman wanted to blame the poor job creation on the Bush 2 administration and Mr. O'Rilley wanted to blame 9/11. Actually, poor job creation was caused by the outsourcing of white collar jobs made possible by the Internet and the computer finally increasing the efficiency of American workers. This process represents the most recent form of Joseph Schumpeter's, "Creative Destruction." see The World Changed and Good Jobs Disappeared.
In another study, 17% of the bachelor's only graduates scored in the lowest two levels of the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey.  Economists Frederic L. Pryor of Swarthmore College and David L. Schaffer of the University of Wisconsin at Eau Clair wrote Who's Not Working and Why, an analysis of tests conducted as part of  the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey. They feel " . . . it is those college-educated workers with functional literacy little better than the average high school graduate who end up in these lower-level jobs." See Who Gets the Good Jobs and How Much They Pay for more  information. Solving the problem is a college administration problem, and a student interest problem.
igh demand jobs tend to be more academic and require more homework.  But the 2002 assessment of student attitudes and plans  from UCLA's Higher Educational Research Institute show anything but an academic, homework oriented freshman class.
1. Students spending six or more hours of homework a week during their senior year was down to 33.4percent from
     last year's low of 34.9 percent and the 1987 high of 47 percent.
2. Less than one hour homework a week was up from 8.5 percent to 15.9 percent. 
3. Interest in business careers was down to 13.8 percent from 23.9% in 1986.
4. Interest in majoring in art, music, speech, and drama was 5.8 percent.
5. Planning to work during college increased to 47.1percent from 35.3 percent in 1989.
Editor's Note: First edition written in mid 2005 -2010. 
Return to A's Advice for Students and Parents   Who
is Professor A?