Business Majors Are Bored With Their Jobs and Lack Financial Security

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Some strategic young adults may choose to study business in college because they assume the promise of a highly paid job will assure them lifetime happiness. Bad news for these calculating collegians: Business majors are not only the least likely to report caring about their job but are also not the most financially secure among their peers, according to a report released Thursday, Oct. 2.

The report, a collaboration between Gallup and Purdue University, was based on surveys of nearly 30,000 college graduates analyzed in clusters according to their college majors: social sciences and education, sciences and engineering, arts and humanities, and business. Regardless of whether they graduated from an elite institution or a no-name school, business majors trailed the other three groups in how much they liked their work, how motivated they felt to pursue their goals, and how much they felt they were thriving.

One could argue that a fat, steady paycheck would make boring work days worth it. Yet business majors did not eclipse their peers when it came to financial well-being. They felt less financially secure than their science and engineering associates and were about on a par with social science and education majors. (Arts and humanities majors, unsurprisingly, came dead last.)

Grim reports of post-college cubicle life haven’t curbed the enrollment of business majors. Almost one in five Americans starting college opts to major in business, and among postgraduates, the MBA is the most commonly awarded degree, according to the report. On the flip side, humanities majors—who beat business majors in measures of well-being and purpose in the report—are a dying breed. The number of humanities majors at Harvard has dropped 20 percent in the past decade.

Why are so many people continuing to major in something others find utterly unrewarding?

“I think a lot of people say, ‘I’m going to get a business degree because I’ve heard all these horror stories about liberal arts majors that don’t have jobs.’ Here’s the problem: I think the only way Americans think about a ‘good job’ right now is how much money you make,” says Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education.

“Some of these social science and humanities majors may make less, but they wake up every day interested in what they’re doing, and that’s worth a lot, too.”

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