During the 2014-2015 school year, the average cost of tuition and fees for college was $31,231 at private colleges, $9,139 for state residents at public colleges and $22,958 for out-of-state residents attending public universities, according to the College Board, a nonprofit organization that collects data and expands access to higher education.
College is a major investment, and smoothly entering the job market in Oklahoma after graduation is important to many, says Scott King, career services coordinator at OSU-Tulsa.
So what majors align best with thriving Oklahoma industries?
“Several different bachelor degrees would be very marketable in Oklahoma and across the nation,” says King. “Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related majors are in demand in Oklahoma. Not enough U.S. citizens are choosing these majors to fill the demand in the marketplace.
“At OSU-Tulsa we provide bachelor degrees that are STEM-focused in mechanical engineering, computer science and management information systems,” says King. “STEM degrees typically lead to the highest starting salaries of all the possible majors.”[pullquote]At the end of the day if you hated every second of your work, it doesn’t matter how much you make.[/pullquote]
In a 2014 poll by The Washington Post, students with traditional liberal arts degrees frequently find themselves underemployed, while students with degrees in STEM-related majors have little trouble finding good jobs in their profession.
In addition to STEM majors, any business degree is a marketable major, says King. STEM and business majors are very sought-after and they also tend to have higher starting salaries than most other majors.
Many businesses looking for college graduates do not have a preference for a single business major, says King.
This is good news for Oklahomans, as Oklahoma City celebrated national Small Business Week in May and was named by Wallet Hub as the third best city in the country to work for a small business, and Tulsa was ranked as the second best city in the country to start a business.
Other majors certainly have a market, says King.
“For instance, we are in a shortage of teachers in Oklahoma,” says King.
Right now, there are approximately 1,000 teacher vacancies in Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma State School Board Association.
“While these positions may have a lower salary than the other areas mentioned, these are still good jobs and offer a very rewarding career for the person who is called to become an educator,” says King.
However, he stresses, no matter what major a student chooses, it is very important to match personality type, strengths and interests to find that best major, which will ultimately create a great career.
“At the end of the day if you hated every second of your work, it doesn’t matter how much you make,” says King.
So he notes, it’s important to seek out help when making a decision on what to study. Four years of college often comes with a hefty price tag.
“OSU offers excellent career services to our students and alumni,” says King. “We can provide students with assessments to help them find a career that fits them in personality, interests and strengths.”
It’s also important to choose a college that can help with the job search in Oklahoma after earning that coveted degree, says King.
“At OSU we provide resume assistance, help with cover letters, job search strategies, networking suggestions and mock interviews,” he says. “We also offer workshops to build skills and career fairs to help students and alumni meet prospective employers.”