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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Although college students might view their major as a seal of fate, a new survey says that might not be the case.

A recently released study found one-third of college-educated employees do not work in careers related to their majors.

The survey, conducted in August and September, also found that 47 percent of the 2,134 college graduates sampled took first jobs unrelated to what they studied in college.

In addition, 36 percent of participants said they wish they could have changed their major.

Kristina DePue, a UF assistant counselor education professor, said she thinks this is because of the poor state of the job market.

She said graduates with degrees in science, engineering and technology are mainly the ones landing jobs in their fields because of the specified training, but other areas might not be the same case.

With this competition in the job market, DePue said she thinks more people are coming back to school.

She said because of major overlaps, like education similarities between sociology and psychology or education and social sciences, the actual major doesn’t matter as much.

But according to the study, 32 percent of the participants said they never found a job related to their major.

Even though jobs are scarce, DePue said, just having an undergraduate degree is still attractive to employers, and strengthening a skill set is crucial.

“It’s lots of challenges, time demands and deadlines,” she said.

For students looking for jobs right after graduation, DePue said location plays a big role in landing a job — small cities like Gainesville won’t offer the same amount of opportunities like bigger cities.

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Gaby Alvarez, a 21-year-old UF philosophy senior, said she thinks the logical reasoning and thinking skills she’s learning will be helpful when she attends law school.

She said her main concern is getting a well-rounded education, not necessarily working in a certain field.

The survey also found that 64 percent of employees are satisfied with their degrees.

As a professor, DePue said undergraduate students should invest time in practical classes and additional training.

Because students are not familiar with the job world, she said, they should speak with their professors, be proactive and work toward getting internships.

“You open a door for yourself,” she said. “It’s really all about who you know.”

A version of this story ran on page 4 on 11/25/2013 under the headline "Degree might not play major role in career, study says"

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