Major choices affect students’ future

Photo of Palo Alto College's Student Center courtyard entrance.
The Center for Academic Transitions (CAT), located in the Student Center, is where students with questions and concerns may seek guidance.

By Felicia Palomo
Pulse staff writer

Palo Alto College offers more than 63 majors for students to choose to better their future.

In 2011, the top 10 majors on campus were Liberal Arts (2,091), Liberal Studies (724), Criminal Justice (476), Pre-Medicine (269), Psychology (247), Business Administration (186), Kinesiology (133), Social Work (133), Communications (122), and Computer Science (114).

Some would assume that the reason these majors are listed at the top is because the employment rate after graduation is high, but that may not be the case.

In 2011, there were 2,091 Liberal Arts majors attending Palo Alto College.  According to a recent study by Georgetown University, “Hard Times” (, Liberal Arts is actually listed as one of the worst majors to obtain because of a post-graduation unemployment rate as high as 9.4 percent.

Roman Alvarado, a sophomore Psychology major here at Palo Alto College, said, “While in high school, I had a tough time deciding what major to choose once I graduated. After speaking with a few teachers and counselors, I was told that Psychology would be the easiest degree to obtain.”

Psychology is listed in the top five majors with 247 students.  Psychology graduates are also not doing very well in the job market after graduation.

According to the “Hard Times” report, Psychology majors’ unemployment rate is as high as 9.2 percent.  Alvarado said that he was unaware how high the unemployment rate was for his major.

“After hearing those statistics, I’m actually a little worried about my future after graduation.  It makes me think about if I made the right choice,” Alvarado said.

Amanda Morales, a senior adviser in the Academic Transitions office at PAC, said, “Students who are interested and determined to graduate and move on to university should visit our office throughout their career here at PAC.  We help with resumes, graduation planning and checking if the students are on the right path to graduate.”

The first thing is choosing something that you are passionate about. Just as the old saying goes, “If you love your job, you will never work a day in your life.”

Second, be aware of the workload and what classes are needed to obtain the degree.  Many students end up graduating with four or more classes that were not needed, and they could have graduated an entire semester earlier.

This is especially important with the new Financial Aid cap.  Students only have six years of financial aid to complete a bachelor’s degree before they are cut off.

Third, take a look at the possible jobs that will be offered to you with this particular degree.  It is always an accomplishment for students to graduate with their bachelor’s, but if the student cannot find a job after they graduate, their years of schooling can feel like a waste.

Choosing a degree can be difficult for students because not everyone walks out of high school knowing what they want to do for the rest of their lives.  Doing research on what will lead to a better future and what interests you will be your best bet when searching for the degree of your choice.

The Welcoming Advising Center has advisers on hand to go over exactly what is offered, and they will help guide you. For more information on what major is best for you, contact the Advising Center at PAC at (210) 486-3100. They are located in the Palomino Center.

You may also visit Morales in the Academic Transitions office for more information or call (210) 486-3131. The Academic Transitions Center is located in the Student Center, where students with questions and concerns come for guidance.