Top Five College Majors to Avoid

Top Five College Majors to Avoid

Top Five College Majors to Avoid

It’s no secret that college is one of the best times of our lives. We get to go someplace new, meet new people, experience independence from our parents, learn new things and (mostly) have a great time. But, for most of us, the decision to pursue a degree in higher education is fueled by something else. When we leave campus with a piece of paper in our hands after four years of hard work, the plan is to cash that degree in for a more lucrative career than we would have experienced with just a high school degree.

For the majority of college graduates that plan even works out: MSN Money reports that earning a bachelor’s degree means you’re twice as likely to be employed as someone who only holds a high school diploma and that you’ll earn, on average, 40 percent more than you would have with that high school diploma alone. Those are some mighty attractive career prospects, and they likely contributed in no small part to the decision 66.2 percent of high school grads made to attend to college in 2012.

Not every college degree is a ticket to a great career and a fat paycheck, though. While there are plenty of majors that look attractive on resumes to employers, there are also a number of majors that are best avoided by those who wish to springboard out of college and into a successful career.

It’s also important to remember that just getting that first job out of college doesn’t’ guarantee you’ll hit easy street and live the high life. Though employers may have once showed the same level of commitment to your father when it came time to get a raise and be considered for a promotion as he did every day of his 30 years of hard work on the same job, those days are long since over and gone. These days, being committed is just as likely to get you handed an employee appreciation gift as it is your walking papers.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to start your career out right, by attaining a degree you can fall back on should you find yourself out of a job. Since everyone has different skills and affinities, it’s impossible to make a blanket recommendation as to what majors you should look into. But what we can tell you is that these five majors are best avoided:


People are interesting, aren’t they? Whether it’s today’s people, tomorrow’s or yesterday’s, there is an almost boundless amount of fascinating information you can learn about people. Here’s a bit of free advice on that front: don’t do it.

Why? How about the fact that there are almost no jobs available in the field? A 2012 study conducted by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce concluded that the unemployment rate for anthropology grads is a whopping 10.5 percent. Furthermore, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine found that the median starting pay for anthropology grads is actually lower than that of high school grads. Finally, anthropology majors are 2.1 times more likely to end up working in retail than the average college graduate is. Put simply, a four-year degree in anthropology is a huge waste of time and money for anyone who doesn’t possess unlimited quantities of both of those resources.


All your friends and family members were blown away by your mastery of Instagram filters and your artful use of black and white, so you thought photography might be a smart thing to pursue in college, huh? Think again. Forbes reports that photography majors face an astonishing 12.9 percent unemployment rate and recent grads are looking at a median income of just $30,000. Things don’t get much better with experience, either. Even for those residing in or near the industry’s biggest hubs (LA and NYC) the average salary for an experienced photography graduate is under $50,000.


So you want to be an architect just like George Costanza pretended to be, do you, Mr. Art Vandelay? Bad news: now is not the best of times. True, the housing market and economy in general has shown some modest signs of life lately, but the demand for architects is still low due to the housing bubble bursting in 2008. The current unemployment rate for architecture graduates? Thirteen point nine. Ouch. While architecture has historically been a safer bet as a major, now just isn’t the right time for it.

Fine Arts

You might look good in a beret, and your work might look even better, but there’s a reason they call them “starving artists.” Recent fine arts grads are staring down a 12.6 percent unemployment rate while experienced ones are looking at 7.3 percent, reports Forbes. Without a clear career path laid out for those who focus on painting, sculpting and the likes in college, fine arts grads are 2.3 times as likely to work in retail than your average college grad, reports MSN Money.

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Religious Studies

We’re not here to judge you on how close you should or should not be to your god, but we are here to let you know that you’re better off from a financial standpoint if you leave religion out of your college curriculum. A 10.8 percent unemployment rate for recent graduates and median starting pay of $10,000 (according to the Georgetown study cited earlier) proves why.

Choose Your Major Wisely

For most of us Gen Yers, our parents told us our entire lives that we could be whatever we wanted to be. But since I’m here writing this blog instead of playing professional hockey right now, that clearly isn’t the case. Bummer.

The point is, while many of us have the intelligence, drive and ability to do a great many things in life, there are a finite amount of jobs available in every field, and some fields have fewer than others. Before you choose a major, do your research, think about where you could potentially be in five years and make an informed decision about the major that’s best for you and your life and career goals.


Photo Courtesy of foreverdigital via Flickr