This one is for the college students and parents of college students (or soon to be college students) in the audience.
As an undergraduate, I majored in finance. As a business major, I knew that I would have opportunities for a job no matter what happens in the economy. My friends who were in engineering had a similar post-college job mentality. Friends majoring in political science were generally law school bound. Friends in a science were going to medical school. However, I have some friends who majored in something that they could not get a job.
A degree in economics is also sure to be useful in any economy, as an increasing number of private businesses, government agencies and non-profit organizations are hiring these people to forecast sales and analyze market trends. In fact, jobs in this industry are expected to grow significantly by 2020 because organizations are looking for any advantage that they can find over the competition.
If you are about to go to school, think of it as an investment. You might enjoy classes in sociology or history (I enjoyed those electives), but can you get a job in them? Without grad school, no. That is unless you want to be a teacher.
As you spend your money or your parents money on school, think about it as an investment. What is the ROI? (Return on Investment) As a finance major in state, my four years of college cost about $60,000-$65,000 including room, board, tuition, books, etc. The college investment of my time and money were intended to lead to a return.
Upon graduation I got a job. I worked at a bank for 6 months before becoming a financial analyst. Lets say I make about $40,000 per year (roughly the average starting salary for a finance major). At that rate my break even point will happen in 1.5 years.
English majors paid less for tuition, but still spend roughly $60,000 for the college experience. A history major has fewer job options and will make far less. At $25,000 per year the break even point is over 2 years. Many English majors have trouble finding a job. If you could have made the same $25,000 per year without your degree, why even get it?
Engineering, business, pre-med, and pre-law have a career path. If you want to be a teacher history, English, and other liberal arts degrees have a future career as well. If you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, get a business degree. With that, you can do almost anything. If you do know, major in it. Pick a degree that will give you a good ROI. My MBA program now will cost over $80,000 for two years. An low end MBA graduate makes $60,000 per year. That makes the break even period 1.3 years. I think that is a good financial decision. The costs are high now, but the lifetime returns are far greater.
As you make your way through college or have kids going through school, make sure that your investment is a good one.