Economy sways some in choice of college majorThursday, May 10, 2012 By Jenny Park
"I know it’s going to be more difficult to find a job than, say, an engineer, but it’s worth it because I love music and it’s what I want to do," senior Colleen Sack said. Like Sack, many seniors pursuing majors in liberal arts say they would rather do what they love than concern themselves with the financial payoff. According to the United States Census Bureau, 22 out of the top 25 majors with the highest unemployment rates in 2011 are considered liberal arts or humanities. Students who pursue majors in the humanities do so to pursue their passion, but the risk of future unemployment remains very real. Career research teacher Kate Carter said she has noticed students looking at more majors that have immediate benefits after graduation. "Students are aware of the cost of going to, say, a medical school," Carter said. "So instead, they’re looking at two-year programs and alternative medical occupations like X-ray technicians that they normally wouldn’t have considered." Carter said students have been pursuing less liberal arts majors, and instead looking for more career-focused majors. "The only liberal arts majors that people are looking to are ones where they can get jobs," Carter said. "Things like ministry." But some seniors continue to be persistent about their majors because of personal experience. Quinn Marvel is pursuing psychology, the single most unemployed major in 2011, to be "like the lady who helped us out when my mom passed away." Marvel aspires to be a child grief counselor and has taken various psychology courses in high school to immerse himself in the subject. Marvel will study psychology at Wilmington University this fall on a scholarship. Although students may say they are content pursuing their liberal arts interests, some of their parents are hesitant about their children’s choices. "My parents told me I'd never find a job by dancing," Alyssa Kornick said. "I’m not going to give up something I’ve devoted so much time to." Kornick said that by sophomore or junior year, she knew she wanted to be a dancer. Her concentrations are toward jazz and tap, and she plans on attending CCBC in order to attain degrees in teaching and dance. "I want to be a regular teacher and then dance on the side," Kornick said. Seniors like Esther Park, who are determined to study their respective humanities majors, are enrolling in special college programs that guarantee jobs. "At Drexel, they have a co-op program where I will definitely have a job after I graduate," Park said. "It’s comforting." Some potential humanities majors have switched their majors in order to cope with the unstable economy. Emily Buonsignore wanted to major in Latin, but because she says there is nothing for her to do with it afterwards, she is instead majoring in Biotech while minoring in Latin. Others have followed in her footsteps. "I love art but I can’t make money as an artist," Summer Wassel said. "So I’m going with my second interest, which is math, and majoring in engineering." Wassel said she wanted to be an engineer after hearing from her cousin, another engineer, that it was easy to find a job because of the dearth of female engineers across the country. Elementary and high schools are attempting to make transitions, like the one Buonsignore and Wassel had to make, easier by steering more American students toward college majors in math and science with the STEM initiatives. "If I wouldn’t make any money, then I wouldn’t want to major in Biology," Cynthia Shi said. Logan Walker agreed and said that with liberal arts majors, there aren’t many jobs in the work force available. Jesse Seigel counters Walker and says in actuality, liberal arts may turn out to be the safer option. Although what career he will pursue is undecided, Seigel plans to major in English and History. "In this job market, specialization doesn’t count as much," he said. "Liberal arts give a whole range of skills that can be reapplied from industry to industry."