Today’s Money-Making Majors
The Cashlorette recently published an interesting (Depressing? Terrifying?) piece listing the top five most (monetarily) valuable college majors of 2017. The dismal pay associated with the top five least valuable degrees makes an appearance as well. It’s not hard to guess what the bullets on each of those lists have in common. The best-paid graduates earned STEM-focused degrees. The worst-paid? Decidedly un-STEM humanities majors.
If you’re raising a child whose age is still in the single digits, the topic of college majors is probably one of the furthest from your mind. But with an ounce of preparation, we believe you can change the way your family thinks and talks about these decisions moving forward. By making sure they’re poised to make a financially smart college-major choice, you can set your kid on a trajectory toward a more stable and secure future.
Cashing in on Constant Change
We probably know less today about what the job market will look like in 20 years than any generation in history. Technology, automation, and the sharing economy are speeding up the evolution of business and making things wildly unpredictable. Here’s what we do know. Change is constant. The most valuable majors will always be shifting. However, today’s top majors shine a spotlight on the value of deep specialization.
The Strength of Specialization
Each of the best-paying majors involves a level of mastery that can only be shared by students dedicated to a focused area of study. In terms of content, they’re very specific and related to current economic and industrial trends. Those are the types of trends you can be watching while your child is in high school so that he or she can ultimately pair his or her favorite areas of study with an in-demand market. On the other hand, a major doesn’t get much less specialized than “Miscellaneous Fine Arts,” so it’s not too surprising to find it ranking high on the least-valuable list.
Primed from Preschool
With so much uncertainty around your child’s far-in-the-future college major, there’s only so much you can do now. Here are some early-ed steps you can take to set your kid on a path toward optimal long-term earning potential.
Plan for the long haul.
Instilling a lifelong love of learning is crucial. Different demographics disagree on the value of a college education, but the numbers don’t lie. You only have to look as far as the college wage premium to see that completing a degree makes a higher wage far more likely. That piece of paper shows its value again when you look at the number and quality of opportunities available to job seekers who don’t have one. Many high-school-diploma-requiring jobs are among the easiest to automate, so we can expect their plummeting numbers to continue to dwindle. By fostering a love of learning and an eye toward University early in life, you can set your child on a trajectory toward an extended school career, increased income potential, and expanded opportunities. And the best way to instill a love of learning is to make it fun!
Another characteristic that top-paying jobs have in common is that they require advanced math skills. Four out of today’s top five majors end with the word “engineering.” Parents invested in nurturing their kids’ long-term earning ability will be well served to buck the trend of deemphasizing math. Sure, it’s hard to teach, and that can make it hard to learn, but it’s worth it. This problem can be overcome – especially when kids start to have enriching math experiences early in life.
STEM early and often.
The article makes a valid point in asserting that STEM is where the money is. It makes another by acknowledging the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields. One way to fight the gender gap is to give your girls enriching early science and math opportunities. Barriers to access emerge at a young age, so those first few years of learning represent a valuable opportunity to catapult girls over the hurdles that might keep them out of the classes, clubs, and cliques with the greatest access to math and science related experiences.
Acknowledge the opportunity.
When you get right down to it, your child’s college major will be a choice. The best first step is merely to talk to him or her about that coming-of-age opportunity. Byemphasizingg its importance, you’ll make sure it’s given the priority it deserves at a time when roommates, application essays, and cars are all competing for your recent graduate’s brain space.
Change the conversation.
Instead of just asking “what do you want to be when you grow up,” include conversations about what your child wants their life to look like. Do they want a flexible schedule? Lots of money? To work with people? To achieve notoriety? Many of those visions of an ideal adulthood can be translated into career goals that shed light on your child’s strengths.
FasTrack your Kids!
You don’t have to do all this on your own! FasTracKids has plenty of programs to enrich your child’s early educational experience in ways that build toward high-paying majors.
Looking for an experience that will spark a lifelong love of learning? The FasTrack Explorers program is designed to start preschoolers off with the best first school experience possible. With a balanced emphasis on math, creativity, and communication – both written and spoken – it’s a launch-pad for STE(A)M-oriented learning.
Need to build more STE(A)M? When the content in the classroom isn’t cutting it, don’t settle for less. The year-long FasTracKids STE(A)M Careers enrichment program empowers parents to supplement with experiential activities that encourage scientific thinking, brainstorming, and design. The career-focused lessons get kids excited to think about their future professions!