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Picking a College Major That Matters (and Pays)

A quick guide to help you determine where the jobs are—and what kind of work you might like to do

HERE'S THE DEAL: YOU'RE A FRESHMAN or sophomore on campus, looking forward to exploring new skills and interests, and you're supposed to decide, right now, what you're going to do with the rest of your life. It's that high-stakes college quiz called, "Choosing a Major!" Ready or not, most colleges want you to select a main area of study. Your choice will be easier if you answer a few basic questions first: What professions are most likely to have jobs waiting to be filled when you graduate? Will you be proud of that job? And will it pay a decent salary?

Your choice will be easier if you answer a few basic questions first: What professions are most likely to have jobs waiting to be filled when you graduate? Will you be proud of that job? And will it pay a decent salary?

What professions are most likely to have jobs waiting to be filled when you graduate? Will you be proud of that job? And will it pay a decent salary?

The following slides, which show the top 3 majors in each area, contain a surprise or two. For instance, why is there such a demand for operations research analysts? (Hint: think big data.) And have you ever considered a career as a cartographer? One thing the slides make clear: When it comes to job satisfaction, money isn't everything.

There's another concern at least as important as picking a major, and that's paying for it. For excellent tips on pulling off that trick, see Paying Off Student Loans and The Basics Q&A: Paying Off Grad School Debt.

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3 Questions to Ask Your Advisor

  1. What strategies can I use to pay down my student loans after I graduate?
  2. Can you help me get started investing in my future financial goals?
  3. How can I manage my finances while I go back to school to prepare for a career switch?

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