Most of our lives are spent trying to alleviate difficulties. We use tools, drive cars, and take medicines to ease various forms of suffering or hardship. However, when it comes to education, those who seek out the most difficult college majors may end up benefiting more than many others. There are many reasons to choose a difficult college major that make the hard work and sacrifice worthwhile in the long run.
Since the most difficult college majors tend to be in subjects that are highly specialized, students will emerge from their undergraduate years with a focused degree. This sort of focus is often rewarded by employers who want to see candidates who have completed focused academic training. Students who pursue these difficult majors may also find that the hard work involved can pay off even if they don't work in that field.
This is because these difficult fields often require students to form diligent habits of mind that can be applied no matter where they end up working. Keen critical thinking skills can be applied in nearly any career imaginable, and they help workers solve problems, discover creative approaches, and take their projects to new heights.
A college degree takes at least four years, thousands of dollars, and lots of hard work. These facts lead many to wonder if there are any benefits to earning a degree if there’s a chance that you won’t end up using it in your career. Well, the answer to that is a resounding YES. A college degree, whether a four-year bachelor's degree or a two-year associate degree, will pay dividends for a lifetime. This is because the degree will provide many of the hard and soft skills required to get ahead in today's economy.
Even students who only complete a two-year associate degree will benefit greatly. These degrees require that students complete the core college curriculum that is required for most bachelor’s degrees. Those courses impart many of the soft skills that can make a huge difference in the working world. While a common complaint about English 101 is that students will never need to write after graduation, those skills are actually very useful in a huge variety of fields. Employers will recognize a well-crafted cover letter and want to speak to its writer, for one thing. Co-workers will appreciate clear, concise emails and the author may find themselves moving up the ladder to success.
Furthermore, the years spent in college expose everyone to tomorrow's leaders. Students make lifelong friends and form bonds that are great for socializing but also for professional reasons. That friend from an economics course may end up being a terrific person to network with years down the road.
Believe it or not, working hard and earning a difficult college degree can pay off even more than a regular degree might. They may not at first seem beneficial because fewer students choose these difficult degrees. However, that in itself can be a major benefit. This is because those classes are sure to have fewer students and thus allow greater access to the professor, which can help make the courses a bit easier.
However, difficult degrees are usually so hard because they demand that students dive deep into their subject matter. Over the course of a college degree, this becomes a habit for the students. Thus, when they arrive at their first job, they will have a strong work ethic that will pay spendable dividends later down the road. Furthermore, such rigorous academic work will be a terrific help when, or if, students go to graduate school. Even students who pursue a totally different subject for their graduate work will have established rigorous academic practices for their research and writing, and their professors are sure to take note.
When it comes to pay, rigorous college degrees are typically in fields that tend to compensate workers very well. The harder degrees are in STEM subjects such as computer science, engineering, sciences, and finance. These degrees often are at the top of the list when researchers survey alumni for their salary information.
All college degrees are difficult to some degree. In fact, much of the issue around difficulty is dependent on the person. A math whiz may find an art major impossible to pass, whereas star English majors flounder in physics courses. Yet, some degrees are universally considered difficult based on objective measures, such as overall GPAs from students. Degrees with lower average GPAs tend to be considered more difficult than those with higher average GPAs. Another measure of a degree's difficulty is the amount of time it takes out of a student's week.
Some courses take only a few hours of preparation each week, with a few more hours added for end-of-term projects such as research papers. Some courses take extra time by their nature. Laboratory sciences can take a great deal more time than a regular course because of the extra time spent in the lab and the required number of lab hours in higher-level courses. Thus, most of the sciences are considered more difficult degrees than those that only require typical classroom time.
Among non-laboratory classes, the more difficult courses are measured by average GPA scores and academic consensus. Certain humanities majors, such as philosophy, are considered more difficult based on the sheer density of the material. For example, academics consider a 20-page philosophy paper to be the equivalent of a 100-page history essay. Perhaps hard experience taught them that a 100-page philosophy paper was nearly impossible for undergraduate students, and those who managed it invariably received poor marks.
Choosing the right college degree is not an easy task. There is so much weighing on the decision that those who are not sure may be paralyzed with indecision. However, this is what the first year or two of college is for. The core college curriculum is designed to provide students an overview of most subjects so that they can make an informed decision as to their major. During those years, most colleges require that students take science courses, writing courses, social sciences, and math, too.
When making the decision, it's important to first consider one's core talents and inclinations. Most will fall into one of two camps: humanities or sciences. Humanities students excel at qualitative analysis, creative thinking, and may love writing. Science-oriented students excel at quantitative analysis, linear thinking, and may prefer numbers to words. Both sets should also consider their long-term goals. Students with more of a tendency towards humanities courses should take a moment to consider what academic programs make more sense in the long-term. They should also look into internships that may spark an interest or help focus their resume for post-college life.
The most difficult college degree programs tend to cluster in the STEM fields. These college degrees tend to focus heavily on mathematical or analytical abilities, and many come with laboratory requirements that may be quite taxing on a student's time. Those who pursue a lab intensive subject, such as chemistry or physics, should try to avoid the need to work while in school. This is because both work and school will suffer as a result.
The exceptions to this might be philosophy and mathematics, which do not require any mandatory laboratory time. However, they both require deep thinking and long hours working through difficult problems. Thus, both subjects prepare students for either graduate school or brilliant careers where their exceptional problem-solving abilities are a tremendous boon to their employers.