The Worst College Majors for a Lucrative Career

Whether the amount you pay for college ultimately ends up being worth it in the long run depends heavily on what you choose to study.  In fact, according to a 2015 report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, the difference in earnings between the highest and lowest paying majors is a whopping $3.4 million!  In this view, we felt that you should know what kind of future you can expect from a major before you invest thousands of dollars to get it.  Keep in mind that if your intended major is on our list, don’t fret, as we are not saying that you should not follow your dreams.  However, what we are saying is that you do so with your eyes wide open and understanding the risks associated with going down an academic path that may not be as lucrative as others.

Religious studies – while a spiritual-based occupation is certainly replete with rewards, don’t expect that they will come in a monetary form.  While the median starting salary for all majors is about $43,000, the average starting salary for a religious studies major is about $38,000. Moreover, there are limited job options for those who major in religious studies, and as such, the competition can be fierce among the jobs that are available.  As an alternative, consider majoring in philosophy, which still allows you to pursue religious courses but exposes you to classes that offer skills such as critical thinking and analysis required in a variety of different careers.

Exercise science – while exercise is undeniably good for your health, majoring in this field of study however, may not be good for your wallet.  Not only is the average starting salary extremely low (~$36,000), employers typically do not seek out potential employees who major in this field of study.  As an alternative, we recommend that you consider a major in physical therapy, occupational therapy or nutrition, which offer broader and higher paying job possibilities post-graduation.

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Important 4-Year College Statistics

2-Year and 4-Year Colleges

Public and private universities, liberal arts colleges, and colleges that offer bachelor’s degrees all fall into the category of four-year colleges and universities. Generally speaking, there are several advantages of attending a four-year college, including the ability to receive a well-rounded education, obtain a higher paying job in the future, and be prepared for graduate or professional school after college.  Overall, while a four-year college is not right for everyone, it can pave the way for a successful future, depending upon one’s specific academic needs and goals.  As such, consider the following information about four-year colleges, which can help you to determine whether this is the right option for you:

1) How many students are estimated to attend four-year colleges?

In Fall of 2017, it is estimated that approximately 20.4 million students will attend American colleges and universities, with about 13.4 million students attending four-year colleges. 

2) What is the average price for a four-year college?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, during the 2015-2016 academic year, the average price for undergraduate tuition, fees, room and board was $16,757 for public institutions, $43,065 at private not-for-profit colleges, and $23,776 at private for-profit institutions.

3) What is the most popular major at four-year colleges in the United States?

According to USA Today, the most popular major at four-year academic institutions is Business Administration and Management, which renders an average starting salary (with a bachelor’s degree) of $41,200 and a mid-career salary of around $70,700.

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Key Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right College

When searching for and selecting the right college, there are a number of key factors to consider to ensure that you choose the right one that fits you and your family’s needs.  Here are a few important points:

  • Academic reputation – academic reputation is one of the many things to look into when comparing colleges and their programs. For example, if a college is known for having a nationally recognized journalism program, it may be beneficial for you to take advantage of it since employers are likely familiar with the program and what it has to offer. This could ultimately lead to future job opportunities after graduation since employers may favor graduates who come out of a well-reputed program.
  • Availability of majors – one of the most critical decisions you will make either before or during college is which major to pursue. That is why it is important to choose a college that has a diverse number of available majors, especially if you are undecided or ambivalent about your current major of interest – as it will best support your long-term career objectives. How?  By having a large variety of majors, you will be afforded many programs to choose from if you are undecided or decide to change your major later on, meaning that you will not have to transfer to another college to find a major that best suits your interests.

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How Parents Can Help Students with the College Application Process

Tips for Parents_2

As parents, you want to see your son or daughter succeed. At the end of the day, where they ultimately decide to attend college is primarily their decision.  This is why the appropriate role of a parent is to provide guidance and support during the often complicated and sometimes disappointing college application process, yet letting their son or daughter lead the way.  To help you to provide the most effective role in assisting your son or daughter during the college application process, consider the following tips.

Purchase the Smart College Report – the Smart College Report is a centralized tool designed to help bring you and your son or daughter together so that you can have a family-oriented approach to tackling the college application process.  In other words, it provides a mechanism by which you can sit down at the table together, review the list of colleges that match your son or daughter’s preferences, and start to narrow down colleges that appear to have what your child is looking for.  Whether you have started the college application process or not, the Smart College Report provides everything you need to decide which college is ultimately the right one for your child, including detailed information on college costs, scholarship statistics, admissions information, tips on smart loan borrowing, and much more.

Create a reasonable timetable – this is a good place to take the lead, especially if your son or daughter tends to wait until the last minute to get things done.  That is why you should sit down with him or her, even as early as freshman year in high school, to go through a timetable of tasks, which should include purchasing the Smart College Report, reviewing the list of colleges that match his or her preferences, visiting colleges, planning on when to take the ACT or SAT, and starting the application process.

Discuss the money upfront – if you are only able to afford colleges that are limited to a certain financial range, be sure to discuss this with your son or daughter upfront so that you can manage their expectations and eliminate future disappointment.

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How Student-Athletes Can Best Manage Their Busy Schedules

When you’re a student-athlete, time and schedule challenges are a normal part of the game. Not surprisingly, the typical day for a student-athlete very often involves an early start and a late finish as well as the need to balance a full daily load of school, workouts, study hours, eating, recovery, rest, and much needed free time.  That is why student-athletes must follow a regular routine in order to effectively manage it all.

For most student-athletes, it takes dedication and hard work to stay on top of everything, and to do so successfully.  In fact, research suggests that by student-athletes becoming more intentional about how they structure their day, they experience numerous rewards such as an optimal balancing of work time, play time, and free time, a higher sense of self-esteem and confidence, improved athletic and academic performance, and greater academic and athletic opportunities. With this in mind, consider the following tips to help you stay on task and manage a busy schedule:

  • Develop a daily schedule and stick to it – put together a manageable schedule that contains a checklist for each item that needs to get done. Include the range of time with which the task needs to be completed and follow this each day to ensure you remain on top of your schedule. If you need help putting a schedule together, consult with a parent, teacher or guidance counselor to help you navigate the details and develop a routine that is both practical and doable.
  • Keep time on social media to a minimum – while social media sites are very popular among high school students, spending countless hours on it can waste precious time. Be sure to limit your use of social media to perhaps 30 minutes or less per day so that you remain focused and able to follow your regular routine.

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Top Tips for ACT Success

Standardized Tests_2

The ACT, a college entrance exam that is offered in many states, has for some students become a better option than the SAT.  In fact, every four-year institution in the United States now accepts the ACT as a common standardized test that can help a student gain admission to college.  As such, it is important to better understand the structure of the ACT and the benefits of taking it, as the exam may, in the long run, be a better overall fit than the SAT. 

What does the ACT look like?

Unlike the SAT, the ACT does not contain several sections.  Instead, it is divided into four separate, timed tests in the following subjects - English, math, reading, and science.  There is also an optional essay that most students choose to complete as part of the exam.  As for the structure of the exam, the English portion contains seventy-five questions that a student must finish within forty-five minutes.  There are also sixty math problems that must be completed within sixty minutes, plus a reading and science section that have forty questions each, both of which must be completed within thirty-five minutes or less.  The ACT is scored between 1 and 36.

Is the ACT right for me, and how can I get the score I want?

If you are thinking about taking the ACT or are undecided, consider the following tips to help you decide if it is the right exam for you, and how to obtain your ideal score:

Know that you have options – experts recommend that you take a practice test of both the ACT and SAT to determine which is right for you.  Since colleges put equal weight on the SAT and ACT, there is nothing wrong with taking the ACT if you performed better on it than the SAT.  Since getting a high score on a standardized test is critical to getting into college, if you find that the ACT is better suited for you, then don’t hesitate to pursue it as your test of choice.

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Top Reasons Why College Applications Do Not Get Accepted

How do you ensure that you get accepted into your college of choice?  At a minimum, it is extremely important that your application is complete, meaning, that you follow all steps required of each college when submitting your application materials.  Unfortunately, even the most qualified students are rejected from colleges each year simply because they did not submit a full application, they did not meet the qualifications required, or some other important reason.  With this in mind, below are some of the top reasons why college applications do not get accepted along with some helpful tips on submitting the most competitive application possible.  Keep reading to learn more!

The applicant does not meet the academic threshold – the majority of colleges base their admissions decisions on all parts of a student’s application, not just on grades and test scores alone.   Hence, the types of courses a student takes during high school (of course the most challenging being preferred) and his or her corresponding grades as well as extracurricular activities can greatly influence one’s chances of being admitted.  As provided by a leading U.S. academic institution, “we have a bottom line when it comes to admissions, and if a student does not achieve over a certain number of our admissions factors, it can lead to an overall denial of their application.”

The application is incomplete – as noted above, an incomplete application can lead to a denial of even the most qualified applicant. This means that such things as missing test scores, recommendation letters, personal statements, and other required documentation can delay the review process and even lead to a rejection if they are not received in a timely fashion.  This is why we recommend that you do your homework ahead of time to know what each application requires and the associated deadlines of each.  Create a schedule to guide you during the process and keep on top of the timelines required for each step of the application. Check off the requirements that have been fulfilled so that you know where each application stands.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Majors & Salaries

Majors and Salaries

For college bound students, an important factor to consider when starting the college search and selection process is what to major in. For some students, they already have their mind set on a major while others have not begun to think about it.  Regardless, it is an important decision, and with some education, can be made wisely.  With this in mind, consider the following frequently asked questions (and answers) about majors and salaries:

What are the highest paying majors?

According to Payscale.com, the top five highest paying majors are petroleum engineering ($96,700), computer science & engineering ($71,200), chemical engineering ($69,800), systems engineering ($66,400), actuarial science (60,800).

What are the top ten most popular majors?

According to USA Today, the top ten majors in the U.S. are (1) business administration and management, (2) general psychology, (3) nursing, (4) general biology, (5) teacher education and professional development, (6) criminal justice, (7) accounting, (8) liberal arts, (9) English language and literature, and (10) history.

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Important 2-Year College Statistics

2-year colleges are an important part of the higher education system for several reasons.  First, they serve a significant portion of undergraduate students in the United States. Moreover, they prepare students to transfer to 4-year institutions, provide job training and development, and are much less expensive than 4-year colleges.  Overall, 2-year colleges represent a viable option for students who are looking to save money, obtain open access to postsecondary education, and/or gain useful job skills.  With this in mind, consider the following statistics regarding 2-year colleges:

1) How many undergraduates are enrolled in 2-year colleges?

In the United States, approximately 6 million students per year attend 2-year colleges, with about 2 million enrolled full-time and nearly 4 million as part-time.

2) What % of 4-year students attended a 2-year college?

Almost 50% of students who completed a 4-year degree were enrolled in a 2-year college within the last 10 years.

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What College Bound Student-Athletes Need to Know When Starting the College Search Process

College Search and Selection
Starting the college search and selection process is a time filled with anticipation and excitement as it’s about a student’s two or four-year college life.  For the average student, embarking on this journey often involves time and effort to narrow down colleges and choose one that is right for them.  However, for the student-athlete, there are additional factors to consider that are critical in being able to advance to the next level and play college sports.  If you are a college bound student-athlete, keep reading to learn more.

As a student-athlete, stellar performance is required both on and off the field.  When advancing to college, this dynamic doesn’t change, and is actually required to be accepted into the college of your choice and play your sport.  However, it is important to consider that the level of competition is fierce – even for the most talented athlete - in terms of playing at the college level.   In fact, the statistics speak for themselves.  Did you know that roughly 1.4% of male high school student-athletes move on to play Division 1 college soccer, and only 1 percent of women move on to Division 2 volleyball?

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