The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

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Should Student be Picking Their Majors for Passion or for Salary?

Courtesy of Raeanne Raccagno

Children grow up fascinated by the world. Some of these enchantments may stick with them for years like the bizarre speed of computers, how notes sound while hitting a chord or being amazed by the structure and design of buildings. When should kids start taking their interests seriously as a possible career path? And how much should they consider future potential salaries? 

College has been viewed as the stepping stone into the real world but students are faced with many choices that can quickly overwhelm the decision-making process, and make you feel like you’re nowhere near ready for the real world. One of the most crucial is what you choose to spend your time studying. 

“I encourage students to choose a major that they will enjoy,” said Rhonda Cohen, career coach for occupational majors. “In addition, I recommend that students think about their future goals. They can research different careers and see what majors might best prepare them to get a job in their desired field.” 

While any student would love to hear this advice there’s also the voices inside Gen Z’s head that causes them fears about being secure in the future. According to a survey by Bank of America, 53 percent of Gen Zers express that costs are a barrier to their financial success. Costs of climbing food and housing expenses, both millennials and Gen Zers are facing more money problems than their parents when they were young; their wages are lower and the debt or cost of education is far greater. 

Kira Abendroth, a 19-year-old Business and Marketing Major from Southampton, said, “I am slightly worried about financially supporting myself in the future, I plan to move to New York City and it is easy to be lost in a sea of people in such a large city. They don’t call it “starving artist” for nothing.” 

She continued, “I absolutely considered my salary when picking my major. I know there is a large demand for people in marketing, so with enough time and experience, I do believe I can make it past the worrying stage and get a good job.”

A recent Prosperity Index study by Intuit found that around three-quarters of American Gen Z are skeptical about setting up long-term financial goals, and two-thirds said they might never have enough money to retire.  

Cohen said, “I meet with many students who bring up the importance of finding a job that will provide them with financial security.” But students also “want to find a job that they will enjoy and that they will find fulfilling and meaningful. They want to be excited to go to work every day.” 

Jimmy Cartin, a 19-year-old music major from Bensalem focusing on the piano said, “If I didn’t pick music I feel like I would be wasting my time.” Cartin started music in high school and realized that his newfound love was not just a months-long obsession but something he knew he was going to be good at. pretty much my entire life I’ve been below the poverty line and I’m really lucky that my parents, especially my mom support me because most people in general would be like ‘You’re wasting your money on a music career?’ There are times when I’m like damn if I did something else or had a job then I could afford to get more food. But then I think about it, I’m physically hungry but I’m also hungry to live the life that I want to lead on my own terms, so it reminds me why I’m doing this.”

According to the Pew Research Center, workers with higher incomes are more likely than those with middle or lower incomes to say they are extremely or very satisfied with their job overall, from a national survey of 5,902 U.S. workers, 714 who are self-employed, in February 2023. The same survey found about four in 10 workers, around 39 percent say their career or job is extremely or very important to their overall identity; 27 percent say it’s not too or not important at all. 

“Most of the time I will be happy because I might not like my job, but I can enjoy life and spend money without financial burden. However, I worry that I will be stuck in a place I did not intend to and won’t be able to get out because my plans did not go the way I wanted them to,” said Riya Varghese, 18-year-old dual enrollment student from Council Rock South who plans to major in Neuroscience said. “In general, I am worried about supporting myself financially. At the beginning of my career, I would be in a lot of debt because of my education; however, it would be considered an investment because if I do achieve my goal of becoming a neurosurgeon, I would no longer have financial worries.”

Cohen said, “It is up to each individual student to think about their values and determine what is most important to them when they choose a major and career. In addition to earning potential, it is a good idea for students to consider other aspects of a job, such as the educational requirements, work schedule, work environment, and employee benefits.”

No matter the choice, for money or for passion, there are uncertainties that cloud everyone’s judgment of the future. But what about students who struggle to pick between two desires?

Madhu Karri, an 18-year-old engineering student from New Hope said, “I have always liked buildings, houses and construction. I do have a passion for construction engineering but along with that I have also always had a passion for dance.” Karri chose to come to Bucks instead of a university so she could continue dancing. Being a full-time student and a full-time rookie professional dancer, time management is an essential tool for her. “I have a passion for both but if I ever have to pick one I would probably say dance but at the same time dance does give as much financial stability as engineering does which is why I never wanna stop doing engineering also.”

“Students should keep in mind that Bucks offers both occupational and transfer majors,” Cohen said. “Occupational majors prepare students to work in entry-level positions after completing their degrees. Transfer majors prepare students to transfer to a four-year school to complete a bachelor’s degree. Students can ask themselves: How much time do I want to be in school?”

Career Services offers students Career Cruising at Students can log into Career Cruising to learn about different careers, including job descriptions, earnings, educational requirements and much more. The username is buckscc and the password is newtown.