Choosing a Degree

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Going to college starts with choosing a degree program and declaring a major.

Certainly, many freshmen come in as “undeclared,” but nobody wants to answer the question, “Why are you going to college?” with “I don’t know.”

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Unfortunately, that can lead many first-time or first-generation college students to start off on the wrong foot, with a major they don’t really want. And that’s not good planning – personally, or financially.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go into your college major search alone. Value Colleges is focused on good educational investments. We’re here to help prospective and current college students – traditional and nontraditional, on-campus and online – get the most for their money. You may be paying with:

  • student loans
  • federal grants
  • scholarships
  • out of pocket

Whatever the case, make good decisions up front. It can make the difference between making a sound return on your college investment, or wasting time and money.

And it all starts with choosing a major.

Choosing a Degree – What Should I Major In?

Choosing a major may seem like a monumental decision. After all, most college freshmen think, “This decision is going to determine the rest of my life.”

It’s not quite so dramatic. US Department of Education college degree statistics show that around 30% of first-time college students change their major within three years. In some specific majors, such as math, as many as half will make the switch. Those numbers go down, though, for engineering, computer science, and health professions, especially with adult students. After all, returning nontraditional students generally know what they want, unlike the average high schooler.

However, college degree statistics show that a poorly-informed choice in major can have some real downsides. For one, it can slow down your graduation – maybe by a semester, maybe by a whole year or two. There’s a reason graduation rates are generally measured by six years instead of four. And those extra one, two, three, or more semesters can hit you where it counts – more student loans and out-of-pocket expenses for your education.

Choosing the wrong major can also delay or derail your career goals. The Harvard Business Review finds that only around a third of college graduates go straight into the career they trained for. Another third never even work in the field they majored in. The other third, the “Wanderers,” get a little sidetracked but eventually make it.

In some cases, those numbers come from a lack of jobs in the field. In others, graduates who discover they’re not all that enthused about the career path they chose. Either way, the bumpy path to a career can mean losing money that you could have saved if you’d chosen the right major, with the right career opportunity, in the first place.

The College Major Search

Whichever way you look at it, changing your major may be common, but it’s also costly. A well-prepared college student is smart to avoid that expense by making the right choice from the get-go. That means doing your homework about yourself, and the degree programs that are right for you.

The Value Colleges degree guides are here to help prospective students do their homework, focusing the college major search. Our degree guides give prospective students a thorough, practical tour of:

  • the different academic disciplines
  • college degree levels
  • professional fields
  • career paths

Throughout the guides, we keep the focus on the practical – what it will take, and what you can make.

Value Colleges Guides to the Most Popular College Majors

Business, Management & MBA Degrees

Business has long been the most popular college major, according to the Department of Education. For students choosing a major in business, Value Colleges has a thorough guide to the options available to future:

  • accountants
  • executives,
  • entrepreneurs

Are you just starting your path with an associate in accounting? Are you looking to earn your MBA or MSM? Value Colleges has the lowdown on online business programs, financial aid, and salary expectations in all sorts of business career paths. You can also link to our many rankings of business degree programs, from online MBAs to Master’s in Taxation.

Healthcare, Behavioral Science & Nursing Degrees

The Department of Education points out that health sciences, including nursing, is the second most popular degree program in the nation. It’s no wonder. Healthcare jobs are expected to grow strongly for the foreseeable future. They’ll increase as much as 18%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. High school graduates and working adults alike are turning to careers in health. For the rundown on everything from online RN to BSN degree programs, to financial aid and nursing certification requirements, take a look at the Value Colleges guide to college majors in health sciences and nursing. There are few careers as likely to give students a reliable return on their college investment.

Teaching & Education Degrees

Few career paths are as stable as education. jobs in business or trades may come and go, but a good teacher will never be without a job for long. That’s one reason education is forever one of the most popular degrees. It’s the second most popular master’s degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Without a doubt, the teaching field has its challenges. It’s definitely not for everyone, but for prospective students with the fortitude, passion, and will to be teachers, Value Colleges has what you need to make an informed decision. From choosing a degree program to the certification requirements, the VC guide to teaching and education degrees will help you make a smart investment in your future.

Science, Technology, Mathematics & Engineering Degrees

There’s a simple reason STEM careers are some of the highest-paying jobs in the world. Not everyone has the math and tech skills to pull off engineering or high-level computer science. With a lower pool of applicants comes higher pay. It’s well into six figures for jobs like nuclear engineers or biomedical researchers. Often, someone with those kinds of math and science skills know they’re going into STEM. But choosing a STEM degree program can still be a challenge, with so many options available. The Value Colleges guide to STEM degrees gives prospective engineers, researchers, and scientists a clear, direct look at what it takes to go into a college education in science and technology.

Art & Design Degrees

The unemployed arts major is an old, lazy stereotype that needs to be put to rest. In the internet age, there are more avenues for valued, lucrative work than ever for:

  • artists
  • photographers
  • filmmakers
  • all sorts of designers

There is simply more content than anyone ever dreamed possible just a generation ago. There’s much more work for content creators. Arts and design includes everything from acting and costuming to 21st century careers like packaging and UX design. For prospective students with an eye, a voice, and an imagination, Value Colleges has developed a practical guide to art and design degrees. This includes choosing a major to salary expectations and job field growth. As always, it’s all about value:

  • quality
  • affordability
  • return

Computer Science & Information Technology Degrees

In recent years, those who have have been gravitating to computer science and information technology include:

  • Working adult students
  • returning professionals
  • first-generation, underrepresented students

Along with health sciences, computing is one of the most reliable and rewarding fields. This is especially true for nontraditional students, and those changing careers. Are you adding a graduate credential to enhance your current career? Are you striking out on your first or second career? The Value Colleges guide to computer science and information technology degrees is the place to start. Get up-to-date information on computer science and information technology jobs, including:

  • the tech job market
  • direction on choosing a major
  • the money, from financing your education to salary expectations

Criminal Justice & Law Degrees

The inherent value of a career in the criminal justice system should be obvious. Law enforcement, Homeland Security, corrections, and other jobs in the field are perpetually understaffed. They need of competent, responsible professionals. Some of these jobs are more dangerous than others, but whether you are putting your life on the line for the safety of others, or leading investigations with forensics or criminology skills, criminal justice is a necessity. The Value Colleges guide to criminal justice and law degrees gives students reputable information about:

  • certification requirements
  • salary expectations
  • other aspects of getting a degree and starting a career in public safety and security.

Liberal Arts Degrees

For generations, a liberal arts education has been the foundation for learning and leadership in American colleges and universities. In the 21st century, more career-oriented and technical education is becoming standard. Still, the hallmark of the liberal arts is a solid grounding in:

  • analysis
  • communication
  • critical thinking

Students with liberal arts degrees can go on to master’s programs in areas ranging from business and education to computer science or public health. For students who want to build their careers on the classics, Value Colleges has a straight-shooting guide to liberal arts degrees, with:

  • realistic career paths
  • degree types
  • salary expectations.

Trade & Vocational Degrees

Since the end of WWII, Americans have grown to see a traditional college degree as the most important educational goal. But in the 21st century, the time has come to take trade and vocational education seriously again. These range from crucial trades like plumbing and electrical work, to the new blue-collar:

  • programming
  • coding
  • network technology

Associate degrees and non-traditional certifications can be the door to a lucrative career. Value Colleges’ guide to trade and vocational degrees is a much-needed reminder that career success doesn’t need 6, 7, or more years of school. It needs smarts and hard work, and a good choice of direction.

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Aya Andrews


Aya Andrews is a passionate educator and mother of two, with a diverse background that has shaped her approach to teaching and learning. Born in Metro Manila, she now calls San Diego home and is proud to be a Filipino-American. Aya earned her Masters degree in Education from San Diego State University, where she focused on developing innovative teaching methods to engage and inspire students.

Prior to her work in education, Aya spent several years as a continuing education consultant for KPMG, where she honed her skills in project management and client relations. She brings this same level of professionalism and expertise to her work as an educator, where she is committed to helping each of her students achieve their full potential.

In addition to her work as an educator, Aya is a devoted mother who is passionate about creating a nurturing and supportive home environment for her children. She is an active member of her community, volunteering her time and resources to support local schools and organizations. Aya is also an avid traveler, and loves to explore new cultures and cuisines with her family.

With a deep commitment to education and a passion for helping others succeed, Aya is a true inspiration to those around her. Her dedication to her craft, her community, and her family is a testament to her unwavering commitment to excellence in all aspects of her life.

Find your perfect value college is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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