Top 5 Most Regretted Majors

An FYI moment —

[To comment: larry at larry litwin dot com]

By Catherine Conlan
Monster Contributing Writer

Buyer’s remorse is never fun, but it’s particularly painful when it comes with the time and cost of getting a college education.

To help you avoid this stinging regret, PayScale has ranked the majors college alumni recommend least. If you have your heart set on one of these, you don’t necessarily have to change course — just do your research on job prospects so your dreams aren’t dashed after graduation day.

1. Anthropology (average starting salary: $36,500)

According to PayScale’s data, 35 percent of anthropology majors wouldn’t recommend it to current students.

“People typically regret majoring in anthropology because they have a preconceived notion that there is a direct and specific job title perfectly correlating to it,” says training and development consultant Farrah Parker. “Instead of recognizing the broad spectrum of careers that they can pursue, they focus on their inability to find a career with an exact reference to their major.”

Anthropology majors could consider work in community organizations or government, for example, or combine the major with others to make themselves more marketable.

2. History (average starting salary: $39,700)

This major is recommended by only 33 percent of its graduates. Many history majors go on to work in academia, or may find jobs with government agencies, libraries or organizations dedicated to the period they studied.

Parker says it’s important for graduates to keep their options open after graduation. “People with narrow definitions of career paths find themselves regretting majors,” she says. “However, those who recognize that the workforce is full of positions that require expertise outside of what may be formally listed in a course catalog find themselves in a perfect position to brand their college major in whatever manner they see fit.”

3. Visual Communication (average starting salary: $37,300)

Only 29 percent of visual communication majors would recommend this to students. Majoring in visual communication may involve creating artwork, learning about ad design and public relations, and studying layout. Graduates may go on to work in media, advertising, public relations or other fields.

4. Social Science (average starting salary: $37,300)

PayScale found 28 percent of social science majors would recommend the major to students.

“I am a former social science major who has since advised against it,” says recruiting consultant Sarah Merrill at Atrium Staffing. “I won’t say that you don’t learn anything from a social science major, but you certainly don’t learn practical knowledge that can be applied to a wide range of jobs.”

“When I talk to students now I advise them to think about what they can actually use in the future — courses on personal finance, marketing, business,” she explains. “There was a course offered at my university on business writing that I have heard was the hands-down most useful course ever taken because of a whole section on email etiquette.”

5. Journalism (average starting salary $38,100)

Only 27 percent of journalism graduates would recommend the major. Difficulties facing print media and the time it takes to break out of entry-level positions can be downers for grads. People with journalism degrees can also end up in marketing, sales, academia or other jobs if they decide to leave the newsgathering business.

[To comment: larry at larry litwin dot com]