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Sammy Dallal
Associate Professor of Architecture Julee Herdt (cq) at The University of Colorado holds a model of what she and other University of Colorado students are building a home for Solar Decathlon.
By the numbers
Bachelor’s Degrees with the highest unemployment rates
1.Architecture,13.9 percent
2.The arts, 11.1 percent
3.Social sciences, 8.9 percent
Source: Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce

A study released this month by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce is adding pressure to students to find the major that offers them the best chance of employment after graduation.

Overall, the study states that graduates receiving their bachelor’s degree are facing 8.9 percent unemployment, but depending on their field of study, some graduates are finding even bigger challenges after college.

Graduates with an architecture degree are seeing the highest level of unemployment, nearly 14 percent, due to the recent housing crisis, the study found.

CU architecture junior Ryan Wakat said he is aware his major could bring some extra challenges after graduation, but he is prepared to fight for a major he loves.

“I have always been told to do something you love,” Wakat said. “There’s no point in getting a degree in something you don’t like.”

Peggy Gordon, manager of student services for the College of Architecture and Planning, said the profession has taken a hit during the recession, but there are a few things students can do to make themselves more marketable after graduation.

“We tell them to be more well-rounded with a minor like business, foreign languages or international studies,” Gordon said. “A minor can give students an edge and experience in another field.”

Gordon said the field is projecting a boost over the next 15 to 20 years, which for incoming students could be good timing since a graduate degree is required to become a licensed architect.

“And students in our department don’t have to become architects,” she said. “With our focus on sustainability and green design — plus any minors they might have — there are a lot of options.”

Wakat said he expects to work outside of the profession while working towards his master’s degree, but architecture remains the ultimate goal.

While architecture graduates might be struggling to find work, other majors might be giving students an edge in a tough economy.

University of Colorado junior Natalie Berryman has been preparing for graduation since her freshman year.

Berryman said job prospects played a significant role in declaring her majors in chemical and environmental engineering — a smart decision, according to the study.

Graduates with degrees in engineering, healthcare, education and other sciences are facing better odds than students studying the arts, the study states.

Berryman said she was lucky and didn’t have to sacrifice her interests for a major that would benefit her in the long run.

“I’m really interested in my major, so it wasn’t just about finding a job for me,” Berryman said.

Lisa Severy, director of Career Services, said it’s difficult to predict the job outlook for students with so many varying factors — making it difficult for students to rely too much on post-graduation job prospects when declaring a major. 

“We usually recommend that people consider job outlook but also other factors,” Severy said. “One way to do that is to choose a major that is specific enough that it gives you some general direction but not so specific that you really aren’t marketable in any other field.”

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