The real value of a degree

I wanted to find out what my diploma would be worth once I got into the real world, so I went online to UCLA’s Jobtrak system and looked at job openings in areas that correspond to fields of study at UCLA.

I focused on job opportunities in full- and part-time capacities that are based in Los Angeles.

The information I uncovered was extremely surprising, interesting and often disheartening. Though the Jobtrak system isn’t the only job search utility, it is one that directly targets UCLA students.

For that reason, I think we can learn a lot by examining it.

Although there were many areas of study in which a diploma would guarantee a variety of desirable job opportunities, there were just as many areas in which a diploma did not open many doors at all.

In one extremely popular area of study, a degree seemed to translate into zero bona fide job opportunities.

Let’s start with the good news: a degree in computer science, engineering or education will apparently be greeted with open arms from the real world.

There are plenty of positions available in engineering or computer science where the only real requisite is a B.A. degree in either of those fields. In the case of those majors, a diploma should directly lead to an admirable job.

There are even more opportunities in the world of education. School administrators, teachers and people with educationalknow-how seem to be in great demand.

Although education isn’t the most vaunted field in the world, it offers many benefits and a variety of jobs that cater to differentspecialties of study. If you’re looking for a job out of college, teaching is not a bad place to start. It might be much more enjoyable than an entry-level position at an office.

Now for the mediocre news: A degree in business, accounting or a specific science should provide an adequate amount of opportunities in the job world.

But a degree is not always a sufficient qualification. Most employers demand at least one year of experience and fluency in a number of computer programs.

Although those two qualifications are not difficult to obtain, the students who do not have them upon graduation will face severely limited employment opportunities. If you are an underclassman in business or accounting, it would be wise to spend a year at a job or an internship in your field of interest before graduation.

Gaining experience and familiarity with common computer programs will also be well worth the time spent.

Now for the “sort of bad” news: English and political science majors will not have many job opportunities in their respective fields, at least not in Los Angeles. English majors will be confined to editing positions and employment with printing or publishing companies for their primary job opportunities while political science majors will be interviewing with elected officials or government agencies.

If you are in one of these two majors and are worried about finding a job after college, it is a good idea to double major or add a minor in a more practical field like accounting.

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