"Specialty Majors Are the Rage on Some Campuses"
Offshore outsourcing and a listless U.S. economy are encouraging more students to pursue specialty majors such as video game development, casino studies, homeland security, and sports sales in the hopes that they will lead to lucrative careers. Students are adopting lessons outlined in "The College Majors Handbook," which states that graduates generally command much higher wages in jobs closely related to their major than they do in unrelated jobs. Bloomfield College professor Roger E. Pedersen, who offers a game design major, explains that the skills students are picking up apply not just to games, but also to films, TV advertising, and Web applications that utilize the same programs. The gaming/casino major offered by Morrisville State College in New York includes emphasis on facial-recognition software and habit-tracking software. University of Denver professor Scott Leutenegger has co-launched a video game development major with a traditional computer science component, and he believes such a strategy can make computer science more interesting and challenging to students, which could perhaps help mitigate a shortage of computer scientists projected within the next five years. The cost of education is another factor driving students toward specialty majors, while still another is the high value accorded to college degrees. "College Majors Handbook" co-author Paul Harrington, a professor at Northeastern University, reports that students with bachelor's degrees were earning 66% more money than high school graduates in 2000, up from between 15% and 17% three decades earlier.