Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Class of 2024, Time to Reconsider Your Major

The Covid19 pandemic has forced itself onto the student schedules of every incoming and current college student.  The new "Undeclared" major is: Shit Happens, and the dreaded freshman 15 is now second fiddle to Survival 101.  While HS senior teens sit at home, boringly taking care of whatever busy work their short-timer teachers assign, it may be time to ponder something else: Will college majors ever be the same?

Coronavirus outbreak piles short-term costs and long-term ...

If the pundits online claim that life will never be the same after coronavirus, then it stands to reason that neither should the act of selecting a college major.  I don't expect too many teens to be paying attention deeply to the pandemic induced recession patterns, like who's employed and who's not.  But they should be!  And if not, well...that's what parents are for.

Trying to sway a kid's college major decision is nothing new to parents.  Some parents are so far up their kid's life that they're willing to risk career and liberty to get their kid(s) into a "good school."  You don't have to take it this far, folks.  But I do recommend you bring up the topic of college major selection, in light of Covid19, with your college-accepted child.

As a parent, you want your kid to do something they love, of course.  Deep down, however, many parents hope that what their future college kid wants to major in falls within the latest best major's listBut some of these majors are no longer pandemic proof!  We're not going to have a pandemic forever, obviously.  Still, it makes sense to understand some fundamental ideas about careers in the times of the plague.

If you can't take your work home

The best question to ask yourself before deciding on a college major is:  Can I take my work home?  If your chosen profession isn't fully transportable, then maybe you should reconsider choosing one that is via the right type of major.  Similarly, if you are aiming to work for an employer, meaning, not start your own business, you should consider whether or not your potential employer is at the mercy of a business model that depends on a physically present customer.

During a normal recession, businesses may contract.  Some more severely than others.  This means that even middle-managers or top executives can be furloughed or fired.  Cutbacks are a bitch!  In a pandemic induced recession, businesses are exposed to the fire even more, resulting in an inordinate amount of cash being burned.

Take the case of the cruise line industry.  During the Great Recession, companies like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian, experienced a drop in bookings, resulting in loss of jobs for people in this travel and hospitality career.  Today it's worse!  These companies can't even operate.

Business administration and political science are popular majors.  In a pandemic, some careers or jobs that sprout from these degrees may not be viable.  Opening a small business without an online marketplace is suicide!  In looking at the top ten jobs for political science majors, at least two are threatened during a pandemic: 1) Political campaign staffer, and 2) College-Student Leadership and Activities Director.  Both fail the ultimate test, depending on a physically present "customer."

The Bottom Line

Both pandemics and recessions are common.  We've been here before!  So it should be natural to consider the repercussions of declaring a major not pandemic or recession proof.  Class of 2024, this is the new normal.  Choose wisely.

Thanks for reading!                         

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