Jeremy Beam had no problem choosing a major.
“I love the ocean and marine life,” says Beam. “Studying marine biology seemed like a natural fit.”
But marine biology is a small and competitive field. Many job opportunities only paid minimum wage, even with a four-year degree. And since so many marine biologist jobs depend on grant funding, job security was nonexistent.
Beam quickly realized that his dream career was keeping him from financial stability.
“The cost of living made staying in that field impossible,” said Beam. “I had to make a change to make a better salary.”
Why following your passion doesn’t always work
If you are heading off to college, you probably have been given well-meaning advice about “following your passion.” Many advisers will tell you to choose a major based on your interests.
But the average graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt after they graduate. And if you’re only choosing your major based upon what you are passionate about, paying back that debt may prove to be difficult.
While choosing a college major based on your passion sounds good in theory, when it comes to earning a living, it’s much more complicated.
3 reasons not to study what you love
1. Most passions don’t lend themselves to careers
If your passion is writing poetry, salsa dancing or raising rabbits, your job opportunities will be very limited.
That doesn’t mean your passions aren’t worthwhile. It just may be more practical to get a job that gives you the financial freedom to pursue your interests outside of work.
2. Doing what you love can wreck your love affair with it
While you may love dogs, the stress of running a kennel or dog-sitting business could turn that love into hatred. The joy you once felt for your passionate work may cool as time goes on.
3. You could end up spending money on unhelpful majors
Many students pick a major because it sounds interesting or lines up with their hobbies. But then, after school ends, they’re surprised or frustrated to find that their major won’t lead to a lucrative career.
More than half of college graduates regret their major choice, and over 40 percent could not get a job in their chosen field after graduation, according to a 2013 report from McKinsey & Company and Chegg, Inc.
4 considerations when choosing a major
It’s important to consider other factors beyond what you are passionate about when choosing a major. Here are four things to keep in mind.
1. Earning potential
Before selecting a major, consider what kind of lifestyle you want to live.
Think about where you want to live, how often you want to travel, and what things are important to you. That will help you determine how much income you will need to live the lifestyle you want.
You can use tools like PayScale to determine your potential earnings with a particular major. You’ll also learn what you can expect to make at different levels of your career.
2. Professional feedback
When deciding on a major, talk to people working in the field you would like to study.
These working professionals can provide feedback on how worthwhile their major is, what to expect in that line of work, and what kind of job opportunities are really available.
3. Return on Investment (ROI)
If your major is in a niche industry, a limited number of schools may offer it. That could mean you’ll be forced to attend a more expensive school to study that major.
Before moving forward with your college of choice, evaluate the total cost of attendance and how much debt you have to take on. Compare the total to what you can expect to earn after graduating.
Essentially, you want your major to have a strong ROI so you can afford your student loan payments and living expenses.
4. Financial incentives
If your desired major is not common, there may be financial aid incentives or tuition reimbursement programs offered by the school or by the state government to encourage new students.
Finding a school that will help you with you college costs can improve your major’s ROI and lower your debt.
Picking a college major remains significant
Now in a job in home security, Beam makes a good income. He uses the money he saves to do what he loves in his spare time.
“I wish I had known how limited my opportunities would be,” said Beam. “I would have saved a lot of time and money if I had pursued a different major.”
While following your passion sounds good, it can negatively impact your future financial outlook. Before selecting a course of study, determine your career potential, salary outlook, and debt load.
Whether you decide to pursue a career in marketing or architecture, think about the financial implications your major has on your career prospects.
What you decide to study in college has significant implications for the rest of your life. If you need to take out student loans to afford school, it’s important to choose a major that balances your interests with a competitive salary.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
|1 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
2 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 2/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|4.23% – 13.23%1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.20% – 11.44%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.84% – 13.49%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.50% – 10.11%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.25% – 13.25%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.85% – 6.99%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.95% – 9.81%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.45% – 12.42%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|