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Report: Best and worst college degrees

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Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 11:51 pm | Updated: 2:30 pm, Thu Feb 6, 2014.

“Not all college degrees are created equal,” said Anthony Carnevale, Education and the Workforce director at Georgetown University, in his study “Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings.”

With the amount of time students spend on their college studies, some may wonder if their career choice will be worth the effort of their degree. Carnevale’s report answers that question by comparing various college degrees with their unemployment rates. The report breaks down unemployment rates and average earnings for 15 college degrees. 

Humanities and liberal arts, architecture and fine arts are among the bottom three degrees based on unemployment rates, beginning with architecture, according to the report. 

Among some of the top degrees were those in health care, communications and computer science. 

UTA students had different opinions on the results of the report.

Bottom degree No. 1: Architecture

There just isn’t room for more architects in a declining housing market, Carnevale said in his report. Architecture graduates have a 13.9 percent unemployment rate after graduation, which is the highest of listed degrees in the report.

Alumnus Teshorn Jackson, who graduated with a bachelor’s in architecture in 2009, said architecture is not for everyone, not even for most architecture majors. It demands more time than a full-time job, he said. Jackson remembers falling asleep behind the wheel after three days without sleep because of architecture homework. One of his professors did the same thing.

“I knew an architect who died from falling asleep at the wheel,” Jackson said.

Jackson said architecture is a form of art that has toughness as its defense to weed out the weak.

Bottom degree No. 2: Fine arts

The arts are the second bottom degree to have by career professionals because of an 11.1 percent unemployment rate. But not all fine arts personnel agree.

Theater associate professor Joe Kongevick thinks professionals might hate the arts because it makes them think or because their parents said not to major in it.

“Maybe that’s why I’m in the arts,” Kongevick said.

Kongevick said students can make a living out of the arts and do something they love, but to others, the question is how.

“How is art going to make money?” fine arts freshman Brianna Ulibarri said.

Ulibarri admits it might be hard to find ways to make money as an artist, but she said UTA is trying to develop business artists who may have a better chance in the business world.

Top degree No. 1: Health care

Health care tops the charts because it has the highest earnings and lowest unemployment rates. The average yearly salary is $43,000 to $81,000 and the unemployment rate is 5.4 percent.

Alumna Jolie Fotoohi said more people getting into health care is a good thing. Fotoohi graduated in 2011 with a master’s degree in health care administration. She currently works as a Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children revenue manager.

“I think it’s great that more people are getting into health care,” Fotoohi said.

Fotoohi recommends internships to students who are following in the same footsteps. Internships help students not only get their foot in the door, but also help them decide which field they would like to go into, or if health care administration is even for them, she said.

Nursing senior Jenny Beaty said she is happy to be in the top degree field.

“That makes me feel optimistic,” Beaty said after learning about the “Hard Times” report. “I can already tell from working with patients that it’s going to be awesome.”

Beaty said that, unlike the other bottom degrees, nursing is one that has many career paths, and a degree in nursing only creates more opportunities. Nursing is a fulfilling career, Beaty said.

“It’s worth it because of the feeling you get at the end of the day,” she said.

Top degree No. 2: Communications

When communication technology seniors Tiffany Jackson and Abdel Afify heard about their degrees being the second top degree, they responded optimistically.

“That’s good for us,” Jackson said.

Communication has a 7.3 percent unemployment rate and second highest pay grade from the “Hard Times” report.

Jackson said she wants to go into freelance social media marketing with her degree. Afify said he wasn’t sure what he wants to do yet. 

“I’ll take whatever I can get, whatever pays the bills,” Afify said. 


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