Thanks to the folks over at HackCollege.com, you can now harness the real power of Google. Read it carefully, because your mind is about to get blown.
News that’s not really news: textbooks are super expensive. The below infographic, courtesy of OnlineEducation.net, does a good job of displaying some of that depression visually. But here’s a few other facts to consider, then we’ll let you be the judge of whether textbook prices are fair or whether it’s practically theft:
- The National Association of College Stores said that about a third of every sales dollar goes directly to production cost–it turns out that all those glossy, colored pages are expensive–while another 12 cents goes to royalties. That’s nearly half the cost of the textbook already.
- Textbook publishers have comparatively small print runs, meaning they don’t enjoy the benefit of mass production.
- The traditional relationship between “producer” and “consumer”–that is, publisher and reader–doesn’t exist in the textbook world. Professors act as middlemen, choosing books students are then obliged to buy based on quality, not price. And professors have little cost incentive to stay cheap since they don’t have to buy anything.
- Publishers argue that used books sales and textbook rentals have shrunk profits and their customer base, meaning they have to charge more per book to stay profitable.
You can’t avoid the economic doom and gloom headlines. But you can avoid a trip to the unemployment center. How? Pick the right major.
College freshmen with an undecided major have the best chance of setting themselves up for a high paying job after graduation. Without the constraints of a finite course of study, undecided students can choose a major based on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ jobs with future growth list.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiles this list of top future jobs based on past and current employment and economic data. For over 50 years, the BLS has collected this data to predict areas of high employment growth. For undecided students, this data provides a resource to help settle on a specific major. As a starting point, it’s a great resource to survey the job market.
However, that’s not to say students should abandon their passions in order to pursue these jobs that offer the most promising salaries and number of job openings. Not all students are looking for jobs that will make them rich. After all, money isn’t everything.
Still, while the BLS list of top future jobs predicts high growth career paths, it also predicts moderate growth and shrinking career paths as well. At the very least, undecided students can choose to stay away from jobs showing the least growth or shrinking career paths.
Regardless of intention, the BLS employment data sheds light on employment in the United States as a whole. For students, this information provides a leg up in landing a great job after college.
Since graduation is always closer than you think, here are some degrees you should consider, and why you should consider them:
- B.S. in Biomedical Engineering: The BLS predicts over 72% growth in the field of biomedical engineering by 2018. Biomedical engineering overshadows all career paths in terms of growth in the near future. It will add more jobs than any other career path. What’s more, the average annual wage for a biomedical engineer is above $77,000 a year, which ranks it in the very high median annual wage quartile. For undecided students, this is one of the best careers to consider.
- B.S. in Information Technology: In 2008, the field of network systems and data communication analysis added 292,000 new jobs: it is second only behind biomedical engineering in positive future job growth. By 2018, the BLS expects the number of jobs added to this field to number around 448,000, or a growth rate of over 54%. This is a cutting edge career that would appeal to undecided undergraduates with a wide range of interests.
- B.S. in Finance: While a degree in finance and a career path towards financial analysis is for the business-minded, it’s another field that the BLS ranks as a top future job for several reasons. First, at a growth rate of 41.6%, the BLS expects 38,000 new financial examiner jobs by 2018. Although other career paths claim higher expected job growth, financial examiners make this list because of the very high median annual wage quartile. At almost $71,000 a year, a financial examiner is another career for undecided students to consider.
As the Baby Boomers continue to grow older, there will be a higher demand for health-related jobs. Jobs in the health industry are predicted to grow the most by 2018. Tech-related industries also look promising in the next decade. One thing to note: stay away from the construction industry, at least for now. The demand for housing doesn’t look like it’s going to rebound anytime soon. As an architecture student, this news isn’t exactly music to my years. Oh well, I could always start applying to medical schools right?
Evan Thomas is a senior at UCSB studying architecture and the environment. He plans to study sustainable architecture in grad school with the particular aim of planning and developing smarter, more eco-friendly communities.
Awesome for their open space and nature areas: Cornell University
Cornell’s a great place to spend some time outside of the classroom. They’ve got a beautiful botanical garden, which is 25 acres, in addition to an arboretum, which is 125. That’s seriously awesome, seriously huge, and if you’re the adventuring/explorer type, you’ll fit right in.
Awesome for their sports complex: Kenyon College
Well, you know, just look at that pool. In addition, Kenyon College has a competition-quality track, a “stunning” fitness room, lounges, tennis courts, and a bunch of other crazy stuff all inside a 263,000 square-foot building that’s mostly glass. Yeah, awesome.
Awesome for their dormitories: Illinois Institute of Technology
With two suite-style buildings and one apartment-style, these students get the royal treatment: bathrooms are only shared with a few other students, there are lounges, outdoor terraces, and what IIT calls a “million-dollar view” of downtown Chicago. Each building is equipped with a 24-hour security door guard, audio and visual displays in the lounges that include 50″ plasma TV’s, surround sound, and DVD players. Each floor also has its own laundry, so you don’t need to carry loads up and down the stairs.
Awesome because it’s in Hawaii: University of Hawaii at Hilo
We’re not even talking about academics with this one. Hawaii is all about location. And if going to school on an island and near a beach isn’t good enough, just take a look at this picture and imagine spending your class time doing that…
Awesome for their architecture: Oxford University
Forget the history and the academics–just look at the picture. Too bad it’s in England.
College is an important step into adulthood and the professional world. It is important to choose the right career path for you. More important is choosing the right college. With so many different choices for getting your degree, it is sometimes hard to make a decision. If you make the wrong decision you may set yourself up for failure. When choosing the right school, don’t limit yourself to well known, highly advertised schools. The best school for you should be based on what you need and want. Here are a few tips on how to choose the right school for you.
Know what you want:
Before you can even begin to search for a school, you need to search within yourself. You need to ask yourself the basic questions: What do you want to achieve? What are your goals in life? What major are you planning to pursue? What do you need in order to succeed?
By knowing what you are looking for in a school you can better choose where to look. If you need the support of family and friends, you will know to look closer to home rather than out of state colleges. If you are looking forward to dorm life and discovering who you are, then you will eliminate those without on campus living.
Bigger isn’t always better:
Once you have an idea of which schools match what you are wanting, you can look towards the size you prefer. If you want to experience a large campus where there are thousands of students, then you will look towards the bigger colleges. If you prefer the smaller knitted community schools where everyone knows and supports everyone else, you will want to choose a smaller campus of perhaps 4,000 students.
If you plan to live on campus you will need to be comfortable with your surroundings. The same can be said with the weather, scenery, and people. If you hate snow then you may want to avoid The University of Alaska. By choosing a college with a comfortable climate, you will find yourself happier and more productive.
Don’t listen to rumors:
If you follow the news, listen to your friends or family, or even hear on the streets that the colleges you’re looking at aren’t admitting or are hard to get into, don’t let it stop you. You may start to believe you have no chance, but half the fun of searching for a college is getting accepted when you didn’t think you would. Most colleges are accepting more than they are rejecting.
Talk to the schools, check their websites, or even ask your guidance counselor to see what criteria they are looking for at the colleges you’re interested in. If you build your school profile, you can easily match it against recently accepted students or to the information they give you. If you are still unsure if you meet their criteria, apply anyway. The worst they can say is no.
You don’t have to know to go:
I can speak from experience that you don’t have to be 100% sure of your major to start college. In fact, most students will change their major 3 or 4 times before settling. It takes experience, knowledge and comfort to choose a major and plan the rest of your life. If you have a good idea of what you want to do but are unsure, take the first year of college making up your mind. Asking other students and seeing their coursework will help you choose a major that will best fit you.
Take your time:
As much as your parents would love to see you head off to college and out of their house, you don’t have to rush it. Take your time to visit the schools you are interested in. Get a feel for the grounds, the dorms, the facilities and the type of people you will be coexisting with. If you feel comfortable there, add it to your list.
Just as you can take your time choosing your college, you may also want to take your time going off to college. If you want more time for self-discovery, take a year to evaluate what is important to you. You may even have a better idea of what you would like to major in if you get out into the world and the workforce. Decide if it is time to go or if you need some time to think. It is never too late to go to college.
As you choose your school you will find that some factors are more important to you than others. College is a time for self-exploration, education, and experiencing life before the real world starts. The friendships and acquaintances you make in college can last a lifetime and become a valuable part of your professional network and personal life. Take your time to decide where you feel comfortable and where you can see yourself spending the best 4 years of your life.
Author, Terry Southerland, is a career counselor who writes for thebestdegrees.org, a site providing lists of online degree programs as well as rankings and reviews for many fields, such as online business administration degrees.