Ahh, graduation season. The day where you are free from high school drama and permitted to be and act like an adult. With one hand holding your diploma and the other grasping at freedom, you drive off into the sunset towards a new chapter in life: the life of the working adult.
Whether you are choosing to explore a career field fresh out of high school or plan to attend a college or trade school, the decision to pursue any sort of career path after graduation is a life-altering decision in itself.
If you thought choosing a college or trade school to attend was hard, try choosing a major or degree path that not only follows your passions and interests, but in four or so years, will qualify for a job in demand.
When I first applied to college, I was enrolled as a secondary education English major. My love and passion for writing and the English language, I thought, would pair greatly with my desire to help and teach others. However, at that point in time, mind you this was early 2013, the teaching profession was gaining a bad rap. Teacher positions were scarce, pay was low and the cost to maintain and obtain a teaching degree was more than just a hefty fortune.
On the day of college orientation, literally ten minutes before tours of our specific major selection were to depart, I decided to change my major. In that split decision I decided to change my major to communication with a concentration in journalism with a double major in criminal justice.
You’re probably thinking, “What kind of career requires a degree in journalism and criminal justice?” Answer is, there are so many jobs that require one of the degrees whereas the other degree could enhance or help the understanding of the job. Take for example a crime scene reporter. A degree in criminal justice would help enhance my articles by allowing me to better understand and relate crime scene terminology to the common reader.
No matter how much I want to believe that the world of print news is thriving, in all actuality, print news and careers in such a field israpidly decreasing. Seeing someone sitting out on a lawn chair and reading a newspaper is as prevalent as a 2-year-old coloring inside the lines of a coloring book. Society’s number one news source has since changed from the local delivery of the paper to the mindless scrolling on the Book of Faces. The internet has replaced the need and desire to read print news, finding that it is not as convenient or as up to date. Print journalism is one of several degree-required careers that are seeing a decrease in not only popularity, but in availability.
According to CNN.com, office and administrative workers are also declining due to the birth and growth of the internet. With easy and accessible tools such as word processing, QuickBooks and Excel, many professionals are not relying on admin or secretarial workers to enter or keep data. Instead of paying another employee with a degree in accounting or communication to act as a secretary or administrative worker, they just buy the program that is required to do the job Do-It-Yourself style.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, computer programmers and network administrator careers are on the rise. As more and more people fall in love with the accessibility and mobility of the internet, the more important it is that their $500 phone runs at top speed while playing Candy Crush and listening to Pandora. A degree in computer information science would come in handy then.
Medical assistants will also see a rise in career opportunities as health care and medical services become the number one focus of the younger and older generations. CNN reports that in America, the Department of Labor projects that 162,900 new positions will be added before 2018.
An analysis of data from the National Center for Education Statistics by CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists International, states that more than half of college programs that have seen growth in career opportunity are in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.
In the Sunday, June 5, local newspaper, there were four computer/IT job openings ranging from a senior software tester to a systems analyst. There were three software engineer positons open, as well as four secondary education teaching positions. Even on a small scale, in Clarion, the trends show an increase in the need of software or computer employees. The fear of an expensive degree for an ever-changing and demanding career in education may be the reason that many college students, including myself, strayed away from an education major.
Let’s get a little more personal. According to the Clarion University Annual Fact Book, from Fall 2015 to Spring 2016, the university awarded 601 education degrees out of a total of 2,077 degrees from the College of Arts, Education and Science.
The College of Business Administration and Information Sciences awarded 1,397 degrees, 153 of which were awarded in Computer Information Science and 386 of which were in management and marketing. The number of degrees awarded to students in both of the colleges has decreased steadily since the fall of 2010, a decrease that I personally say is due to increased tuition and fear that a college degree isn’t worth the time nor money to get anymore.
How upsetting would it be to chase after a dream career and obtain a degree in that field only to be told when you graduate that your career field is dying, good luck finding a job, and, oh wait, your student loan payments will begin in six months. My advice for you: If you are planning to pursue a college education, evaluate the world around you now and see what careers are in demand and what are not. Listen to the voice of your elders and of society around you, figure out how changes in environment, supply and demand or social trends will influence your degree choice. Most importantly, choose a degree that not only will enable you to get a job to dig you out of mountains of debt, but that fits your personality, who you are.
There is no sense in pursuing a career in a field that you have no interest in just because you know you can obtain a high-paying job that you will end up hating for the rest of your life. If you are just planning to find a job that pays well, where you don’t really care what you are doing just as long as you get a decent paycheck, try fast food. No college degree required, heck, some don’t even require a high school diploma. If popular opinion pulls through, here soon, you can be making a decent $10 an hour serving hot fries, just like someone starting off at an internship with a college degree. Personally, I am not McLoving that idea.
(Kayla Handy is a Clarion University student contributor to VenangoExtra.com & ClarionExtra.com. Email Kayla at firstname.lastname@example.org.)