How to Select a College Major You Won't Regret

How to Select a College Major You Won't Regret

Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok is a personal finance writer and speaker with a background in financial literacy, student loans, credit scores, and investing. She's a three-time nominee and finalist for Best Personal Finance Contributor at the Plutus Awards. Zina paid off $28,000 in student loans in three years. Holding a bachelor's degree in journalism from Indiana University, she has worked for newspapers, magazines, and wire services. Her byline has appeared in Indianapolis Monthly, the Commercial Appeal, and the Associated Press, and as an expert, she's been featured in the Washington Post, Forbes, Fox Business, and Time. Additionally, Zina is a Certified Financial Health Counselor and Student Loan Counselor.

Some experts say that it doesn’t matter what you get a degree in - it just matters that you have a degree. But that doesn’t seem to be true for everyone.

A survey from ZipRecruiter analyzed which majors had the most amount of disappointed graduates - and which had the happiest practitioners. Turns out, high-paying jobs were more likely to have satisfied students than low-earning ones.

Read below to see which majors were the biggest disappointments - and which have paid off handsomely.

Most Regretted Majors


At the top of the heap is journalism, with about 87% of journalism majors saying they regret their degree. With a median salary of $55,960, those in the field earn below the national median average salary of $58,136.

Plus, job prospects for journalists are currently shaky. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there is a 3% decline in the number of job openings.


While professional sociologists have a median salary of $98,590, the degree still ranks second when it comes to the most regretted majors.

One of the biggest problems is that you need to have a master’s degree to work as a sociologist. That often means taking out more loans just to start working. Fortunately, job growth for sociologists is 5%, which is higher than average.

Liberal Arts

Those who major in liberal arts were third-most likely to regret their degree. Part of the problem is that a liberal arts degree is a very general field, with no clear translation to a career.

The median annual salary is $54,000, which is slightly less than the national average among all careers.


About 61% of those majoring in education say they regret their degree. While there does appear to be a teacher shortage in most states, data from the BLS says there is only 1% growth for high school, middle school and elementary school teachers.

Conditions for teachers have only worsened in recent years, especially because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The median salary for teachers is $66,397, which is technically higher than the national average. However, many teachers report working more than 50 hours a week.

Plus, many teachers who receive advanced degrees only see a 10-15% boost in their earnings.

Least Regretted Majors

Computer/Information Science

Even as tech layoffs have been a major headline in 2023, computer/information science still remains one of the best degrees you can get.

About 72% say they do not regret their degree. And why should they? Their average salary is currently $131,490, and their job growth is 21% between 2021 and 2031. Plus, you don’t need an advanced degree to earn six figures in this field.


Those who major in criminology can enter a variety of professions. Many use it as a springboard to the legal field, becoming lawyers or paralegals.

It’s also a good baseline if you want to work in law enforcement. Even insurance companies hire full-time investigators before paying out dubious claims.


Engineers are the second least-likely to regret their major. And that makes sense when you look at their typical salaries. The median annual wage is $97,000, much higher than the national median. Engineering jobs are also projected to grow by 6% between 2020 and 2030.


Almost 70% of nurses say they do not regret their major. Nursing remains one of the most in-demand jobs, so it’s fairly easy to find a job.

The median salary for a registered nurse is $81,220 annually. The average job growth rate between 2022 and 2032 is 6%, which is higher than average.


While psychology is often seen by some as a useless degree, it’s the gateway to becoming a trained therapist or research psychologist. While most psychologists and counselors need a master’s degree in order to practice, It appears that the degree pays off.

However, the median salary for a psychologist with a bachelor’s degree is $40,858, while the average salary for someone with a master’s degree is $68,703. The average job growth rate is 6%, faster than average.

How to pick a major you won’t regret

It's no surprise that one of the biggest reasons that people regret their majors is because they can't find a job in their chosen field.

Before choosing a major, think about why you’re interested in that field. Try not to choose something just because graduates have high salaries or cool perks. If you’re not truly interested in a subject, you won’t have the passion to keep going when it’s dull or complicated.

You should also understand the realities of the profession, which you can do by shadowing someone in the field or doing an internship. In fact, try to talk to as many people as possible who are currently in the industry. They will be able to give you an accurate account of what it’s like to work day in, day out.

One of the biggest ways to avoid a major you regret is to minimize your student loans. A rule of thumb is not to borrow more than you’ll earn in your first year out of school. Following this rule can help you avoid taking out more loans than you can comfortably afford.

Don’t be afraid of changing majors if you end up falling in love with a new subject. Just make sure to do your research and understand what it will take to succeed in that field.

Also, don’t worry if you end up choosing a major that you later regret. Many degrees teach you skills that are transferable to other fields. For example, disgruntled journalists can work in corporate communications, technical writing or public relations.

We make it simple and match you to college scholarships you qualify for.