Five College Degrees to Avoid

Wasting your time in high school is one thing. After all, you’re generally not paying for your schooling and if you make a mistake at the age of 14, 16 or 18, there’s still plenty of time to turn yourself around. Wasting your time in college, however, is something that you don’t want to do. Not only are you paying for your schooling, but the choices you make are also more impactful for your future career and the rest of your life.

How do you waste time in college? The classic way to waste time is to have an Animal House lifestyle, but you can also waste your time inside the classroom. Certain degrees, for example, are hardly worth the paper they’re printed on unless you’re planning to use them to go to graduate school. If you get one of these degrees, you may find yourself waiting tables rather than earning the job experience you need to get ahead in the world. Here are five degrees in particular that you’ll want to avoid unless you are intending to use them as a jumping-off point for graduate school.

1. Philosophy and Religious Studies

If you combine one of these two degrees with a more practical degree, such as computer science, engineering or business, you’ll be showing potential employers how well-rounded and smart you are. If you get one of these degrees by itself, however, you can pretty much count on having a very hard time justifying to employers why they should hire you. While you may be able to write a great paper on why altruism provides more existential benefit than selfishness, a 2012 Georgetown University study also suggests you’ll join a group of recent grads who have an unemployment rate of nearly 11 percent. You might think that 11 percent doesn’t sound like such a bad rate of unemployment, but keep in mind that in December 2008, at the height of the recession, nationwide unemployment hovered around 7 or 8 percent. This degree will give you a good opportunity to experience your own, personal recession. When you finally get a job, you can write a very philosophical paper about your experience.

2. Architecture

That you should avoid a degree in philosophy might not surprise you; that you should avoid a degree in architecture almost certainly will. Architecture, after all, is a challenging degree that by its very nature weeds out all but the most sincere students. Furthermore, famous architects are essentially on-par with certain world-renowned artists for the impact they can make on a country, a culture or a skyline. However, when the housing market in the United States crashed, architecture was one of the professions that got hit pretty hard. There are still successful architects in the U.S., but the job market for new grads isn’t very good. In fact, while philosophy and religious studies students have a collective unemployment rate of about 11 percent, the same Georgetown study found that recent graduates with an architecture degree have an unemployment rate of almost 14 percent.

Instead of pursuing architecture, pursue engineering. A mechanical or civil engineering degree will still allow you to build things but will give you a much better chance of getting a job.

3. Agriculture

The state of Idaho has almost 25,000 farms in it. Nevertheless, the University of Idaho recently cut out its agriculture major. Why did a university in a state with so much agriculture make a decision like that? The reason is simple: The number of jobs available for people with an agriculture degree has been steadily shrinking for many years. While 70 percent of U.S. citizens were farmers at the turn of the 20th century, today, that number has dwindled to less than 1 percent. That’s a pretty dramatic change. People with agriculture degrees make great farm managers, but with so few farms, what’s the point of this degree?

4. Fashion Design

Fashion is a high-paced, glamorous industry. Breaking into this industry, however, has a lot more to do with your connections and your street smarts than your degree. According to some statistics, this is a profession that’s going to grow by less than 1 percent in the upcoming five or six years. Such a small growth means that there won’t be many openings for new grads.

5. Sociology

According to, a degree in sociology offers one of the worst possible returns-on-investment in higher education. In other words, given the time, energy and money you’ll put into earning this degree, you can pretty much count on being one of the lowest earners in your class.

Conclusion: College is a Time for Self-Exploration But Also Practicality

If you want to take time during your college years to explore your interests and learn about different subjects, that’s great. You should explore different interests and learn about topics that you never would have learned about otherwise. However, you can take classes in the majors listed above as electives and still get a degree in a more practical subject.

If these five degrees are some of the worst you can get, what are some of the best? Check out our post on the most useful online degrees or our post on high-demand jobs that only require an associate degree.