March 21, 2024, at 10:00 a.m.

In today’s competitive world, your choices during high school regarding your higher education and career path have never been more crucial.

A recent study from the Strada Institute for the Future of Work and the Burning Glass Institute reveals a concerning trend: more than half of recent four-year college graduates find themselves underemployed, not utilizing their degrees in their current jobs.

This reality underscores the importance of making informed decisions about where and what you study in college.

Why Your College and Major Choices MatterThe College Planning Center strongly believes that high school students' college and major choices can shape their professional network, providing opportunities for internships, mentorship, and job placement upon graduation. 

The report highlights that your first job out of college can significantly influence your career trajectory.

Graduates who start in roles that match their education level are more likely to continue in satisfying careers.

Conversely, those who begin in positions that don’t require a bachelor’s degree often find it challenging to transition to roles that do, even years later.

The implications are clear: your choices about your education can have long-lasting effects on your professional life.

Addressing the Challenge

As a high school student on the brink of these life-altering decisions, you may wonder how to avoid such pitfalls.

Here are actionable steps you can take to prepare for a prosperous future:

1. Exploring Internship Options

Engaging in internships related to your field of interest can significantly decrease the chances of underemployment post-graduation.

These experiences provide practical skills and can make you a more competitive candidate in your chosen field.

Each college has its own unique culture, campus environment, and academic offerings, so The College Planning Center highly recommends researching and visiting campuses to help you find the best fit for your personal and academic needs.2. Research Fields of Study

Some majors, especially those in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and certain business disciplines, tend to have lower underemployment rates.

Consider your interests and strengths in choosing a major in college, but also research the employment outcomes for graduates in those academic fields.

3. Consider the College’s Reputation and Resources

Institutions with strong reputations and resources often have better networks and career services, which can help you secure employment in your field after graduation.

4. Seek Career Guidance

Make use of career counseling services both in high school and college. Professional guidance can help you navigate your choices more effectively.

5. Develop Soft Skills

Employers across all industries highly value skills such as communication, problem-solving, and adaptability.

Look for opportunities to develop these skills through extracurricular activities, leadership roles, and other experiences.

6. Evaluate the ROI of Your EducationThe College Planning Center finds that evaluating the financial implications of your college and major choices will help you make prudent decisions that maximize their return on investment and set them on a path toward financial and college success.

Consider the cost of your education against the potential earnings in your chosen field.

While education is invaluable, understanding the financial implications is essential for making informed decisions.

Looking Ahead

As you ponder these decisions, remember that your first job or college major does not solely define your career path.

The work landscape is evolving continually, and lifelong learning will be the key to your career success.

Colleges and universities are crucial in preparing students for this reality, offering resources for continuous learning and skill development.

The journey from high school to a fulfilling career is complex, but by taking proactive steps and making informed decisions, you can navigate it successfully.

Our main goal at the College Planning Center is to support you in this journey, offering guidance, resources, and encouragement to help you make choices that lead to a rewarding and prosperous future.

Christopher Parsons, President/Founder 

College Planning Center

Free download of College “Fit” Inventory for College Planning.