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Aretha Welch
Special to the Express

Before he/she even begins to make money or lands that entry-level gig, the average American college student graduating in 2013 will be in $35,000 debt. This is according to a study done by Fidelity, the financial services company.

Some findings of the study were published on The headline read,” The class of 2013 is in for a rude awakening this graduation season.”

And indeed they are. But some more than others.

There are eight majors that have been deemed the worst return on investment this year. That means you invest tens of thousands in them and make less than or very little above a 100 percent return on investment, according to the website

If one of these is your field of study, money experts are saying beware.

The eight majors are: Sociology, Fine Arts, Education, Religious Studies, Hospitality and Tourism, Nutrition, Psychology and Communication. The money and wealth website published these findings, along with examples of jobs which majors in each category land after leaving college.  The median salaries for each of these jobs were also published.

The site states that a sociology major that eventually goes into social work will make a median salary of $47,121. This shows a 73 percent return on investment (ROI) if the student went to public school and a 21 percent ROI if the student went to private school.

A communications major who became a news reporter will on average take home $37,393 a year, showing a 58 per cent ROI if they went to public school and a 17 percent return if they went to private school.

So why would a student pursue a degree where the financial odds are stacked against him/her from right out of the gate?

”I’m already in $42,000 debt and I have nothing to show for it,” Lashonda Wilson said.

The 30 year old holds a Bachelor’s in Education from Wilson College in Pennsylvania but works part time at a day care. The Livermore resident is now back at Las Positas College pursuing studies in Early Childhood Education.

“Why I continue? It’s simply about passion. I’m following my passion, which is teaching. I know,” Wilson said, “I will never be rich but hopefully one day I make enough to repay my debt and live comfortably.”

Wilson wants to own and run a day care in the future.

For others pursuing a degree deemed as a bad investment, it is not about passion over money but a combination of both.

“Students can make money with an English or Communications degree,” said Jim Ott, LPC English instructor and columnist.

Ott is a published journalist who worked in the financial field for several years before teaching at LPC. Ott used himself as an example of someone who became successful with an English degree and a communications background.

He said he excelled as a financial sector Chief Executive Officer, as a well as a Chief Financial Officer because of his ability to communicate well and write effectively.

“Being a communications, writing or English major does not mean you have to stay in journalism forever,” said Ott, who now writes a column for the Tri Valley Times.

“I made six figures and I strongly believe being a good writer makes you very marketable. It’s up to the student to decide what they do with the degree,” Ott said.

Brooke Eicher is a 19-year-old former Nutrition major who disagrees with Ott’s philosophy on taking your major by the horns and making the most of it.

She thinks there are some majors that offer less opportunity from day one.

“I changed majors because when I looked into nutrition it didn’t seem like I was setting myself up for a comfortable future. Salaries were slim and job prospects were slimmer,” she said.

Eicher is now pursuing her transfer studies at LPC in hopes of majoring in Nursing at another school.

“I feel like I can pursue my passion for helping people in a way that is also more rewarding financially and has more opportunities for me to use my degree and that’s nursing,” she said.

Eicher believes specialty degrees like Nutrition limit job prospects and studying in more broad based fields for their BSC, maybe the way students should go to get their foot in the door in their industry of choice.

“I can specialize eventually. But nutrition was already a specialty and it limited my options,” Eicher said. “I agree with the study based on my own research.”


Footnote : To read more about the methodology which the financial website used to calculate the ROI for each major and select which majors offered the worst pay back, visit the website and click on the higher education quick link where you will find the story headlined 8 College Degrees with the Worst Return on Investment.


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