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12 September 2007
Town & Gown:
Freshmen Face Decisions that Change Their Lives

Reprinted here in its entirety.

By Dr. William A. Meehan
President, Jacksonville State University
Weekly Column - Town and Gown

Many college freshmen this fall will be bombarded by great decision-making moments. Life-altering educational decisions, that is, not determining which flavor of Ramen noodles to have for lunch. No matter the age one begins college, the weight of a chosen field of study bears down. Last year at JSU, only 12.5 percent of our students arrived with an undecided major.

All students will eventually need to decide on a major. The process of arriving at this decision may not be an easy one, though. Do I choose the degree that will make the most money or the one that will provide contentment in life? Or do these two actually meet up somewhere? Based on a survey given to students across the nation, the Princeton Review has identified the 10 highest sought after majors. According to this list of “Top 10 Most Popular Majors,” Jacksonville State University is hitting the mark, offering these 10 majors and more.

After choosing a major, popular or not, and registering for classes, the next round of decisions hit. What job options do I have in this field? What are the most sought after jobs and salaries? It is imperative a student begin investigating these questions, and more, early in his/her college career. And instead of waiting until the junior year to complete an internship, why not complete one after the first year, or get a job as a student worker in a department at JSU in congruence with a field of study.

Taking the initiative to try out work in a certain field early will give students the benefit of either reassurance in their decision or time to make a new one and switch majors. Graduation drops students into a vast and fast-moving world of possibilities difficult to conquer without preparation.

Sites such as rate the top 50 jobs in America, along with their salaries, that article and advice editor Kate Lorenz says, “are both growing faster than the average for total employment (13 percent) and have annual earnings above median of $28,770.” JSU offers those that desire the chance to be working in the fields on the forefront of this list the opportunity to do so by offering degree programs nestled in the top five of these 50: registered nurses ($52,330), postsecondary teachers ($51,800), general and operations managers ($77,420), elementary school teachers ($43,160) and accountants ($50,770).

Not only does JSU offer classes in the areas most sought after by employers, but also in those with the highest salaries. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) list of highest salaries paid to 2005-06 graduates, our university offers classes in five of the top ten.

At JSU, we realize the importance of making available the best possible environment for creating and cultivating success. This decision has been made and will remain a vital part of our institution.

More information about careers in these fields and others are available through JSU’s Web site, or by calling Career Placement Services (CPS), 782-5482, or by visiting CPS in Room 105, Bibb Graves Hall.

Erin Chupp, a graduate assistant in the Office of Marketing and Communications, contributed to this article.

About William A. Meehan

Dr. William A. Meehan is president of Jacksonville State University. His column, "Town & Gown," appears in The Jacksonville News.

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