The role financial benefit plays in college major decisions


Angelina Cao '22

Under pressure from their parents and society in general, many Tologs feel the need to choose a major that’ll benefit them financially.

Worldwide, millions of students are going through the process of applying to colleges. Some know exactly what they want to do in life, while others struggle to complete the interest section on an application. Some look forward to the stability of a nine to five. Some dread the monotony. Some only want money to buy a Cartier bracelet. Some just want to pursue their passion even if they may have to live in a tiny studio apartment.

There are infinite reasons why students decide to go down whatever path they choose. Some say it’s for the money, some say it’s passion-based.

While speaking to my fellow Tologs on the Hill, I discovered that choosing a major is a result of a blend of priorities.


Luna Ruiz ‘22 always knew she wanted to major in something professional that also pays well. As she watched Covid-19 take a toll on working Americans, Ruiz began to think about the kinds of jobs she thought wouldn’t be hit as hard should another unforeseen event like Covid occur in the future.   

“I desire to still be able to work even when the economy is down or when unpredicted events occur. I just want to be able to have a well-paying career that’s flexible enough where I’ll be prepared for an unprecedented event,” Ruiz said. “When I saw how Covid-19 affected the overall workplace, I made the decision that I wanted a stable job where I wouldn’t be hit as hard as others.”

While in the mindset of the pandemic, Ruiz began to think about what future jobs she could have that would ensure that she wouldn’t have to worry about unreliable unemployment.

“I want to ensure that I have a career where I can make a lot of money and also feel secure that I can work through any event,” Ruiz said.   

In addition to stability, going into business aligns with what Ruiz is passionate about.

“I enjoy conversing with people and solving math problems, so business is a perfect job that I know I can do for the rest of my life,” Ruiz said.


Sara Park ‘22 initially thought she would major in psychology, but as she’s begun to fill out her applications this fall, Park has become doubtful about her career choice. She is passionate about psychology but is concerned that building a career in that field will lead to instability.

“Taking psychology as my Senior Research Project led me to become interested in the subject. Psychology is definitely fascinating to me, but I know that it’s a very competitive field where I’ll struggle in finding a job,” Park said.

Park’s parents’ thinking has also had an influence on her. Over the course of a series of conversations, her parents impressed upon her that majoring in business would make it easier for her to put together a career that’s stable and rewarding.

“My dad graduated as a psychology major but then started working in business because he struggled to find a job that pertained to what he studied in school. Because he knows what it’s like after graduating college, he doesn’t want me to face the same challenges as him,” Park said.

While Park values her parents’ input, it is important for her to make this decision on her own.

“I do take into account what my parents have to say, but my final decision is motivated by what I think is best for me,” Park said.

Media Studies

As someone who has excelled in science and math her whole life, Peyton DeJardin ‘22 might’ve shocked some people when she decided to choose media studies as her major.

“Although I’m aware that it is not the most profitable route, I love that media studies gives me many options that I can explore,” DeJardin said.

Majoring in media studies will make it possible for DeJardin to pursue her interests.

“I figured that I’d rather spend the rest of my life doing something I love over being rich and possibly miserable. Above all, I just want to have a job I’m passionate about,” DeJardin said.

She knows it’s daunting deciding to go into a field that she knows does not yield the most financial stability. But having the opportunity to choose her passions over convention and practicality is something she considered to be a blessing.

“Ultimately, I think whatever I end up doing will be something I find joy in and will also be lucrative as well. It may take a while to figure out exactly what that is, but I do think I will find something that satisfies both of my needs.”


Cassie Pichardo ‘22 is someone that is passionate about dance but ultimately thinks she has to choose a career that’s more practical.

“I am passionate about dance because I’ve been doing it my whole life and couldn’t imagine my future without it. However, my parents are both lawyers and have high expectations for me, so I know I have to choose a major like political science that’ll make me successful. I’m torn that I can’t major in dance, but since I want to make a lot of money in the future to pay off my student debt, I know it’s the right thing to do,” Pichardo said.

Pichardo ultimately knows she has to give up her passion in order to be successful in the future but is still sad that she feels like she has to choose between her passion and desire to make money.

“If money wasn’t an issue, I would love to major in dance, but since I want to be well off in the future, I know I have to choose a career that’ll allow me to do that,” Pichardo said.


For many Tologs, STEM appears to be the most reliable path towards a successful future. With its rigorous curriculum combined with the range of options for careers after graduating, STEM appears to lots of Tologs to be the safest major someone can go into in order to be successful.

“STEM majors have a lot of different career pathways to enter into. I feel like people that decide to go down this path have it way easier with switching career paths if they don’t like what they initially chose to do. Everyone knows that doctors/healthcare workers are pretty successful and receive a stable pay rate. That combined with the fact that there’s a pandemic going on means that doctors are working harder than ever and are getting paid even better than before,” Megan Balao ‘22 said.

Balao already has an idea of what she wants to do with her salary.

“I’m aware that the STEM field is a lucrative one. I’m thankful that I [will] get to do what I love while also earning a lot of money. That said, I’ve already decided that I’ll donate most of my earnings to different charities, communities and research projects. I’ll also give back to my family and will support them with anything they need,” Balao said.

Balao feels the need to give back due to how she grew up.

“I want to use the money I earn to better the communities around me,” Balao said. “I’ve never grown up around a lot of money, so when I make a lot myself, I want to make sure to help people that were in the same position as me.”

The final factor pushing Balao to go into neuroscience is how society views women in the science and math departments.

“All of my family members in the medical field are men. I want to be part of the change and see more women in STEM. I hope to inspire other young girls to pursue their love for science like I did,” Balao said.