While college should be about earning an education, not a job, the truth is that you still need to take classes that will help you earn a paycheck after you graduate. Here are the big ones.

For years, you’ve heard about the importance of a college education and were told that any job worth having required one. You heard that higher education was scarce, and a degree in any subject would set you apart from the competition. And, once upon a time, it was true—but in 2013, it’s not.

The current employment crisis is only partly due to the recession. Another part of the problem is that there are fewer and fewer science, mathematics and engineering graduates and more and more art, psychology and communication graduates. Since we are in the midst of the technology revolution, those numbers should be reversed.

A recent study from Georgetown University showed that liberal arts degrees were accompanied by low wages—for the duration of the employee’s career. A college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in art earns about the same salary as a community college graduate. That means those last two years at a four-year school have no value on the job market.

Ideally, college should be about earning an education, not just a job. Fortunately, there’s a way for you to get an education, study something you’re passionate about and help yourself get a job after graduation.

How? Just take these four classes:

1. Economics

All you need is one class. If your college breaks the topic into macroeconomics and microeconomics, sign up for micro; it has more use in a variety of careers. You’ll gain basic knowledge about the role of price, value and cost—economic principles that will enhance not just your career but your life.

2. Statistics

It’s not just for mathematicians. Art gallery managers, retail clerks, non-profit executives and state senators need to be comfortable analyzing and interpreting numbers.  In short, knowing how to work with numbers is helpful for any career—and your life, too.

3. Computer Programming

Don’t freak out. This class isn’t as intimidating as it sounds, I promise.

If you devote one semester to earning a broad understanding of a computer programming language—any language—this single course could be more rewarding in a future career than a half-dozen other electives combined.

People with computer programming skills reported finding employment during the economic downturn. What more do you need as encouragement?

4. Financial Planning

This course might be the trickiest to track down. Some schools require an introductory finance course as a prerequisite, and it’s different than what you’ll learn in economics. In financial planning, you’ll learn about budgeting and debt and how to project revenues and costs. Students can set themselves up for a lifetime of financial stability with these skills. The more financially savvy you are, the more mileage you’ll get out the money you’ll be earning in your new job.

Steve Aedy is a writer for FreshEssays.com, an online service that offers help with the editing and writing of college papers. Follow him on Google+ and Twitter.


  1. College Courses that Boost Your Job Marketability

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  2. Cara Christine

    what about an internship class?

  3. Judith Gargyi

    So many people I coach these days have no idea ….. clueless and taking college courses.

  4. Ryan R B Chatterton

    Let’s get real. You’re avoiding the actual issue here. College, for most careers, is a highly-overvalued and under-performing method to get a job.

    You bring this up in your intro, but fail to actually comment on it, instead telling students they should suck it up and take classes that will give them practical benefits.

    Sure, many companies require this “ticket” (a degree) to get an interview. But more and more companies are being led by young, wild-eyed entrepreneurs, not “by-the-books,” MBA hotshots (at least the companies people like me want to work for). The people in power value chutzpah and experience more than a piece of paper.

    My advice, if you’re worried about the job outlook: quit school, teach yourself, get real-world experience.

    Helping real people create value is the #1 way in the New Economy to have job security.

    • Art O'Connor

      Well said Ryan. A degree just shows that you are good at following directions and will make an obedient servant capable of sitting in a cubicle 40hrs a week. Which is fine if that is what you want. Go out and create something, make mistakes and learn from them.

  5. Evan M. Rose

    Agreed with Ryan that college is definitely not the easiest way to get a job. It incredibly expensive and doesn’t directly teach skills valuable to employers. Where I differ is that I think with some work, college can be molded into an incredible experience and training ground for students.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that college should be employment training. What I do believe is that with the proper guidance, students can get the most out of college by having visibility into credentials, experiences and skills they will need to get hired in certain positions. Right now the jobs earch process is compressed into a couple of months where students for the most part blindly spray resumes at anything with a certain keyword. Job descriptions are phoned in and criteria for success even more-so.

    What if there was a way for a college student to find what types of positions were of interest to him/her, learn what courses hiring managers wanted to see, what types of internships would boost their credibility and finally, which online resources would best prepare them for success in the interview and position? As a recent grad, I can say I’d love to have that so I built it. You can check out the early stages at http://www.tryecruit.com.

    • Ryan R B Chatterton

      Totally agree. Any way students can gain early (as in: right now) insight into the actual job/careers they are interested in is essential.

      I’ll have to explore your site more, but in the mean time, students can do the research themselves. With a little hustle, the willingness to meet new people, and a smile, learning is only a couple conversations away.

  6. Alternative Badassery

    While I agree with the sentiment among commenters that the better option in many cases in regard to college is to “quit school, teach yourself, get real-world experience,” it’s still a relatively radical notion for many, so I think the article is relevant and good advice. I know I wish I’d taken these classes. Then again, I wish I’d waited until age 25 to go to college in the first place…

    • Ryan R B Chatterton

      It’s most definitely radical. Yet that doesn’t make it any less effective. I’m arguing that because it’s radical it is actually more effective. I would much rather hire a candidate that said, “I dropped out and learned it all on my own. School was ineffective and inefficient.” That shows actual initiative.

      The issue with these course recommendations is that all of them could be learned for 10% the time and (in some cases) 1% of the cost on our own.

      The ONLY value a college education offers for most (note: I said most) careers is the degree, the ticket, the permission from the higher-ups that we jumped through the hoops.

      I’m saying, “Stop jumping through hoops. Quit school. Be remarkable by doing the work.”

    • Alternative Badassery

      GREAT points, Ryan, regarding the time and cost of the courses, and the value (or lack thereof) of a degree for many. Looking back on my college education, I definitely see significant value…but it could have been multiplied many times over had I waited to go to school until I had some true work experience (as in, a full-time, real, “big kid” job) and knew who I was, what I was trying to achieve, what my work preferences are, what working full-time was even like, what work environments would be best for me… You don’t know any of this right out of high school. While I 100% agree many can be just as–if not way more–successful by completely forgoing a college education and seeking the info, training, and experience they need independently, I still see concepts I was introduced to or skills I developed in college come through in my work and life often, so I do think it can be a worthy investment for some. But definitely not straight out of high school.

  7. Belinda Lewis Lynch

    Interesting article. These 4 courses recommended are practical and can be applied to every day living as well as on the job. I would like to add another one to the list i.e. sales. Employees are all being pressured into selling and don’t have any background in sales nor are they trained to sell. I think that colleges should add that to the curriculum now.

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  9. Harun rashid

    Exciting content. These 4 programs suggested are realistic and can be used to every day residing as well as on the job. I would like to add another one to the record i.e. revenue. Workers are all being forced into promoting and don’t have any qualifications in revenue nor are they qualified to offer. I think that institutions should add that to the program now.Logo Design

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