Georgetown recently released a study that examined a host of college majors and the unemployment rates that "welcome" graduates who hold degrees in those concentration areas. Merciless media outlets picked up the story and parlayed those correlations into the word "useless."
Majors like fine art, history, religious studies, musical theatre, architecture, etc., are correlated with disproportionately high unemployment rates. Thirteen majors in all make the list.
The Great Recession has significantly altered college ministry. In a time of relative wealth and security, majors were closely tied to calling. Let me explain. I used to advise students that they needed to discern carefully what God was calling them to. Majoring is not just about money making. "What a luxury we have," I would wax eloquent, "that Almighty God would allow us to make such a delightful choice, to play in his playground of ideas and fields of study."
All that high-minded talk has changed.
Being gainfully employed after college is challenging enough. Those in our congregation who've experienced unemployment and underemployment tell me of the emotional struggle to feel "useful." So, it's increasingly important that I encourage students to weigh the practicality of their major.
Yet, God's people are still called to have spiritual eyes. Practicality is not our only calculus for God is still in control. I think that now, more than ever, my job is to help students discern carefully what they are motivated and called to do. It is THAT for which they will have the most energy and, if God has indeed called them, God will provide a way for them for he always accomplishes his purposes. After all, I have counseled many students who realized part of the way through their studies that they're going into the wrong field. That was my own story!
Parents of college students, even though I believe you know your child best, keep in mind that the Spirit can, at any time, begin a new thing in your student's life. Do you have the spiritual eyes to see what that might be, and will you encourage your son or daughter to pursue God's best?
Know that here in Student Ministries, we're here to help!
For Christ and the University,
Pastor of College Ministries