College Degrees That Won’t Take You Far In Life

For some, attending college may be the best four years of your life but what you choose to major in during your time can have a huge impact on your career opportunities once you graduate. Picking the right major when you enter college can be hard and while you don’t need to make a decision right away, you need to evaluate all of your options.

Some people may tell you that you should study what you love, regardless of the job opportunities but this can only end up being an expensive waste of your time. Here are the most useless college degrees that can make employment a challenge.

Culinary Arts

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For those who aspire to be a chef, culinary school was once seen as a necessity to achieve this goal. However, tuition fees in culinary schools are on the rise and unfortunately, the salary of budding chefs doesn’t match up to the cost. In recent years, the return from culinary school isn’t as high as it once was and it is no longer a requirement to become a chef in many restaurants.

In fact, culinary graduates only make 2-11 percent more income than their peers who didn’t attend culinary school. While some chefs still value this professional training, most restaurateurs don’t have a preference, so long as those applying have the inherent skill and a knack for cooking. Hence, it would worthwhile to spend more time in the kitchen, mastering your cooking skills.

Fashion Design

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Xurxo Lobato/Cover/Getty Images
Xurxo Lobato/Cover/Getty Images

The world of fashion is vast and constantly changing so many see fashion school as a great opportunity to gain some contacts and get your foot in the industry. While this may seem like a worthwhile reason to get a degree in fashion design, you need to think about the competition that comes along with it.

Fashion as a career requires an artistic ability that needs to be inherent. There is no school that can teach you these skills but can only help you build on your current skill set. In an industry with such fierce competition, finding employment can be quite the challenge. Nearly 3.6 percent of fashion designers are unemployed.

Art History

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Leemage/Corbis via Getty Images
Leemage/Corbis via Getty Images

Art history can be a very interesting subject to study but is not a great choice for a long-term career. The reason for this is that the subject itself is quite niche and the skills you learn from a degree like this one can’t be transferred to many jobs. You would need numerous years of study and research in the field to attain an academic or curatorial job.

A degree in art history doesn’t come cheap as they cost an upward of $50,000 with no solid return on investment. Many people who major in art history may need to take up additional jobs to pay off the debt. The current unemployment rate for this major is 6.6 percent.

Music

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Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A vast majority of the most well-known musicians in the world will attribute their success to hard work, luck and lots of practice. You will also find that these musicians didn’t get a degree in music to develop their talent. However, in the case of certain instruments like the piano or the violin, a fair amount of tuition is required.

It would be wise not to take up music as a major unless you have been offered a place in a prestigious school like Julliard or Berklee. If not, the chances of making it in the big leagues are quite slim. It might be better to spend the music degree money on some high-quality instruments.

Psychology

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Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Given the awareness of mental health, it’s no surprise that psychology can be a popular major among college students. A study of the human mind can be quite fascinating but when you are one among a million of other college students with the same degree, the chances of finding a job are quite low, and 6 percent of psychology degree holders are unemployed.

In order to get a good job in the field of psychology, you would need to get a doctorate as a bachelor’s degree in the subject is no longer sufficient. If you do decide to major in psychology, you could always find a niche area that translates to other fields like marketing.

Communications

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Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Communications is a degree that covers many areas of the arts like media or broadcasting and it’s the vagueness of the subject that makes it hard to find employment. This is also tied to the fact that many forms of media like journalism are being taken over by social media.

Which is why many people who pick communications are usually unsure of what they want to study in college. While it can be exciting to learn about various fields under a single umbrella, it can be hard to master a few specific skills that you can apply professionally. The current unemployment rate among communication degree holders is 6.3 percent.

Liberal arts

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Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Liberal arts is often seen as a no-brainer degree and this is far from the truth. This major exercises the creative part of your brain and improves your critical thinking and analytical skills which are important for your career.

However, in a world that is driven by science and technology, the demand for liberal arts graduates only gets lower every year. In fact, less than 2 percent of employers are actively seeking graduates with this major. Liberal arts can be an interesting degree to major in but it doesn’t offer too many employment opportunities. The current unemployment rate for liberal arts graduates is 6.7 percent.

Studio/ fine arts

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Tony Evans via Getty Images
Tony Evans via Getty Images

Studio arts is a very unique major but by no means is it a way to make money as soon as you graduate. The world of artists is so saturated that it takes multiple years to actually beat out the competition and get recognition for your work. After all, your work depends on your skill and whether or not it matches other peoples’ personal taste.

Instead of pursuing a degree in fine arts, it would be better to freelance in studio arts and wait to see if you generate enough income before you go full-time. Having a side hustle can also help you build up a portfolio that you can showcase to clients. The current unemployment rate for fine art majors is 9.1 percent.

Performing arts

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Photo credit should read TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP via Getty Images
Photo credit should read TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP via Getty Images

If you are a budding actor, a major in performing arts may seem like the right move but think again. A majority of the actors we see on television didn’t make it big through professional training but through a lot of hard work and raw talent. Although some actors did go to performing arts schools to cultivate their existing skills.

Instead of majoring in performing arts, if you truly believe you are cut-out for acting, it would be wiser to get an acting coach who could help you develop your skill. Additionally, you would also need to attend numerous auditions and make a few contacts in the industry to get your big break.

Anthropology and Archeology

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CESAR MANSO/AFP via Getty Images
CESAR MANSO/AFP via Getty Images

Both Anthropology and Archeology are incredibly interesting subjects that can help you develop your cognitive skills for your professional life. While this may make the subject attractive, the problem lies in the fact that this area of study is very niche.

For many graduates with this major, there is no definitive career path to take. You may even need to get a doctorate in the field to improve your chances for employment. You should only major in Anthropology and Archeology if you are truly passionate about the subject, otherwise, it could end up being a waste of time and money.

Composition and Rhetoric

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Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Research shows that print media has only 10 or so years left but this doesn’t mean that there is no scope for writers. While print may be dead, it doesn’t reduce the need for information but only changes the way we consume it. Having a writing skill is important but a degree in composition and rhetoric is not.

The major is quite vague and covers a broad aspect of writing rather than focusing on a single field. If you have a passion for writing, it would be more useful to major in English literature. The unemployment rate for composition and rhetoric is 20 percent.

Environmental science

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Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

With the impending effects of climate change, there is a need for environmental scientists however, this does not equal a need for an environmental science major. While in theory the major is related to the environment, it covers a broad spectrum of the subject instead of focusing on a single resource.

In order to improve your opportunities in the field of environmental science, you could major in physics, chemistry or biology and then use your skills in the field of environmental science. The current unemployment rate for this major is 11.79 percent.

Entrepreneurship

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MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images
MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images

Entrepreneurship as a major is like watching a tutorial on how to do something without actually doing it. While you may get some advice, there’s no real learning there until you take the leap and start your own business.

Many entrepreneurs will tell you that it is not something that can be taught and many of the lessons learned are from the risks you take and mistakes you make in the real world. As an alternative to majoring in entrepreneurship, you can start your business as a side hustle until you are confident enough to go full time.

Languages

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Michael G. Seamans/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Michael G. Seamans/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Learning how to speak a language can do wonders for your resume especially as globalization increases but this is still no reason to major in a certain language. Language as a major will teach you about the history of the language as well which you may never actually put into practice. All the knowledge you need to learn about a language comes from the real world.

Instead of majoring in a language, you can use an online tool like Duolingo or even take an evening class to pick up a new language. This is also a lot more cost-effective than a college degree.

Sociology

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Mondadori via Getty Images
Mondadori via Getty Images

Sociology, as the name suggests, is a study of how society works and while this may sound interesting, it is not a worthwhile college major. Those who have a degree in sociology lean towards jobs in non-profits or as a social worker. Unfortunately, the employment rates for these jobs is not too high.

Although research shows that the employment levels for social workers will pick up in the future, the salary for these jobs is not too competitive. The average salary for a social worker in the United States is only $57,000 per year.

Microelectronic Engineering

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Microelectronics deals with the study of home electronic devices and instruments are made. Unfortunately, with the advent of AI and robots, many of these jobs will be replaced in a few years. Research shows that the demand for people in semiconductor processors will drop by 27 percent in the next few years.

Additionally, the median wage for a person with a microelectronics engineering degree is only $33,950. If you wish to study electronics, you would be better of majoring in technology. Microelectronic engineering is too specific which can make it a challenge to find employment.

Hospitality and tourism

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JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images
JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images

Tourism is big, especially in major metropolitan cities and while the job prospects for people with this major look good, the pay you can expect to receive is not that great. For those who work at the front desk at hotels, the employment rate is expected to increase by 13 percent in the next few years, but unfortunately, the median pay for this job is only $20,400 per year.

For the managers of hotels, the salary is only $46,000 per year and the employment rate for travel agents is also expected to drop by 12.1 percent in the next few years. While it may be an interesting major, the job prospects for a tourism degree are quite slim.

Criminal justice

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Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images
Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

If you wish to become a police officer or a detective, a degree in criminal justice might make sense but in reality, it serves no purpose. Many officer and detective training programs don’t require anything more than your high school diploma. This is because most of the learning for the job is done during the training period.

Additionally, the other job prospects for a degree in criminal justice are quite low. Research shows that the employment rate for officers is only expected to increase by 5.9 percent from 2012-22. Hence, a degree in criminal justice doesn’t hold too much value.

Philosophy

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Photo by David Degner via Getty Images
Photo by David Degner via Getty Images

Philosophy is an important subject and many people use it to make better decisions. However, when it comes to college majors, a degree in Philosophy is not worth your time. This is mostly because of the framework of the subject. Many of the topics that are discussed in Philosophy classes don’t apply to the real world and hence have no practical use.

If you want to improve your philosophy skills, you could always read books on the subject. This can help you apply the principles to the real world and is more cost-effective than a college degree.

Creative writing

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Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images
Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

If you are looking to expand your creative skills, a degree in creative writing is not the answer. This is because many creative writing classes focus on literature that was written many years ago and not on modern fiction, making it hard to apply your degree to your job after you graduate.

Additionally, people who make it in the creative writing field are usually authors of famous books. If you want to expand your creative writing skills, you can start your own blog where you can write your thoughts and ideas on your favorite topic. Once you have a large following, you can even monetize your platform.