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How to Find Value in a College Education

Posted by Manuel Fabriquer on Thu, Jan 24, 2013 @ 11:00 AM

Balance resized 600As we begin the New Year recent consumer sentiment reports clearly show that Americans are clearly concern with getting value for their hard earned money. 

The last thing anyone wants is to pay for a product or in our case, an education, and not get value.

In my previous articles I have discussed and explored whether a college education is still viable.


The overwhelming evidence shows clearly the upside benefits both in personal growth and income potential for those individuals who possess a college degree. 

However, that being said, not all college degrees have the same market value.  Depending on market demands some college graduates will find perspective employers seeking specialized training, or simply avoiding certain degrees. Yes, that is right; there are certain majors that employers outright dismiss.

We can simply look at graduates who had majors that have the highest unemployment rates as a way of ascertain what the employment market doesn’t want.

Here is a brief list of the majors in 2012 with the highest unemployment rates:

  • Philosophy
  • Religious Studies
  • Fine arts
  • Anthropology
  • Archeology
  • Physical fitness and Parks Recreation

What about the Liberal Arts major?

The liberal arts degree is one of the darlings of many colleges and universities.  This concentration can actually be traced back to ancient Greece where liberal arts were the subjects that men free from work were at leisure to pursue. Today, many of the subjects included in this major don't really prepare students for a particular job.

So, this major is a mix bag.  On its face, the liberal arts degree has been experiencing high unemployment (although not as high as the ones listed above).  The problem is simply the fact there are not many employment positions advertising for a person with this type of degree. 

That being said, graduates who fully understand the needs of prospective employers, and can translate their liberal arts education to meet those needs, are faring a lot better.  The degree does develop a student’s critical thinking and innovated skills.  Nevertheless, it will then be up to the student to show a perspective employer how those skills are a benefit to their business.

Beware of the school telling you what employers are looking for.

As could be expected, today there are many liberal arts colleges who have begun to shift their programs to meet the perceived demands of parents and students alike.  As I stated in previous blogs, we must remember that providing a college education is a business first and foremost.  That means that colleges will modify to the perceived demands of their consumers first, and to the job market second.  Therefore, they will play off your thoughts of what a good major is rather than what employers are looking for.

A common strategy used by many smaller schools today is to focus on getting  students in the door by offering what they do want, namely sports and extracurricular opportunities that might elude them at bigger schools. 

Next, these colleges will offer vocational subjects like business, criminal justice and exercise science that students and parents think will lead to better jobs. Then, once your student is enrolled, the school will look for other ways to add the liberal arts magic these colleges still believe in.

This is not something that happens at every college and university, but it is something that parents and students need to be aware of when considering a specific school.

Attending college and choosing the right major has become more complicated these days and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.  That is why you need now, to have the most up to date information, in order to make the best decision for your student, and get the complete value for all your efforts.

Do yourself a favor and accept my invitation to attend my next FREE college planning workshop.  You can’t afford to miss these timely presentations where I will share with you the critical information you need to get the best value from a college education.  Sign up now!

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Tags: strategies for college, college planning abc, college planning, college majors