Your Study Subjects Matter More Than Where You Study

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2015 PayScale report provided by The Economist


In today’s economy, underemployment rate is at a high for recent undergraduates. The reason for this is because of how competitive the labor force is since there are so many job candidates and not enough employers, especially in the Silicon Valley.

According to the Washington Examiner, over the course of a career, college graduates earn $1 million more than high school graduates on average. A misconception that some recent graduates might exhibit is that they are being overlooked by other candidates applying for the same job roles because their competition are graduates of higher-ranking schools. But what they might not consider are the subjects of what these other applicants have studied throughout their college careers.

Engineers and computer scientists earn a 20-year annualized return of 12% of their college fees, according to The Economist. Business and economics degrees also have a good payoff rate as well. However, although courses in arts or humanities offer spiritual rewards, they expect less impressive material ones and require even more work and job experience for their post-undergraduate careers to make financial demands.

Although college degrees rewards students to earn more, picking the right one is even more necessary because hard work is still required for post-graduates to command higher salaries.

Other factors that influence a college graduates’ wage may also be the industry they work in. Liz Wessel, WayUp CEO and former Google employee, listed that careers in STEM fields and business specialties call for certain majors and specific undergraduate courses, but she urges students to not overthink their major selection too much.

“Pick a major that you love and start pursuing the experiences that are going to give you a boost in your future job search,” she said.

Dr. Jessica Song has a PhD in International Education and an M.A. in Comparative and International Development Education. She has been guiding students at both the high school and collegiate level for over 8 years. If you would like a free consultation with her or our CEO Jun Liu, send us an email at

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