Does the paycheck matter?


It’s difficult to pick a career, even before you take money into account.

Students have many majors and careers to choose from after they graduate high school, and deciding can be stressful. Parents always have opinions, and finding a college that fits can add to the pressure, but perhaps the biggest concern is the paycheck. How do you choose between what you love and what’s realistic?

For some, the divide isn’t always clear. Sheelagh J. (11) is trying to pick between two choices, psychology and business.

“I love trying to understand why people think and how we do things. Business is really a fallback if psychology doesn’t work out. Business is a guarantee, psychology, not so much,” Sheelagh J. said.

Different people have different hierarchies when it comes to priorities.  Jessica C. (11) sees income as a clear issue.

“I’m interested in pre-med, and maybe business. I’m going to pick jobs that make a lot of money, and out of those I’ll pick the one I like,” Jessica said.

Jessica is looking into pre-med and business for college majors. Both present attractive salaries and topics that interest her. According to Jessica, her parents didn’t play that big a role in her ideas.

“Dad is a doctor, so he’d like me to be one. My parents don’t try to sway me, but I do ask for their help,” Jessica C. said.

Taking a risk—even a minor one—with a major life decision can intimidate students. Also, parents can have a big influence on what their kids decide to do, even if it’s only through example.

“Almost my entire family is in the medical and engineering fields, both of which make a lot of money. I guess you could say I’m looking at jobs like theirs,” Sheelagh J. said.

What it comes down to is how to make money and be happy, but it’s difficult to make that choice at such a young age. Luckily, with undecided majors becoming more widely accepted, many won’t have to choose for a while: according to the National Center for Education Statistics, over one fifth of students were undeclared in the 2003-2004 school year.

Emily Gallion


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