Lucrative career options for current/new college students

Hello, y’all. My kid is heading off to college in the fall. We are waiting on apps and acceptances, but the school will most likely be an Ivy or in the top 25 sort of ranking (Duke, UVA, etc). AA (with latino ethnicity) female who is far stronger in liberal arts/writing than math/sciences. She is willing and able to work at whatever, as long as it’s not too emotionally/mentally draining…gotta have some quality of life. What would you guys recommend or forecast as lucrative options for fields of study or career choices? Sorry if this is in the wrong place, but would like to hear you guys’ feedback. If I’m in the wrong spot, please redirect.

I think this would be a nice topic to carry on as the years go by and markets and economies shift. I’m also about to introduce her to these forums so she can have the financial education and start that I did not. She works and has saved most of her pay so far, and I’d like to have her learn how to let her money work for her. She can be the new forum’s first project, if y’all have suggestions. No new accounts right now, though, as she’s under 18.


No suggestions for college jobs, but some general suggestions for responsible 18 year old’s out the gate – Open a credit card or two and start responsibly using it for small purchases and paying off monthly. Keep the card used at least once every 6 to 12 months so the issuer doesn’t close it for infrequent use and she could have a great credit report at a young age and have an incredibly aged card or two on her report by the time she gets older. I had a card open when I was 20 but got lazy and didn’t use it for over a year and the issuer closed it on me after it had been showing on my report for 10 years. I kicked myself hard for that mistake.

Also, any extra earned income that she can immediately sock away into a ROTH IRA at a young age will compound nicely for her. At the age of 18, I’d put it in a 90/10 stock/bond allocation as she has a lot of time to recoup losses.


Thanks for your response. She already has a couple of AU accounts (small limits on mine, larger on my father’s) that she uses for daily purchases (gas, school supplies, if we ask her to stop for groceries), and when she turns 18, we will make sure she gets her own. She is highly unlikely to use them (very much a Scrooge) so I’ll make sure to pass on your advice to charge occasionally and pay off monthly to boost her credit score.

I am very ignorant about IRA’s (esp ROTH) so i will make sure we research this more. She doesn’t have any sort of interest bearing savings account now, her money just sits in her checking account, so this would be a good idea.

As a bit of background, my father gave me cards when I turned 16, but gave me no credit counseling info, he just paid them off every month, so I didn’t really have a good grasp when I went to college and they gave me 10 new cc’s just because I was legal. If I’m not mistaken, there is now a 21 yo limit to get cards unless those younger can prove independent income sources. I want the kid to have a better grasp on finance than I did.


While you say that she’s willing and able to work at whatever, as long as the job isn’t too emotionally and mentally taxing and doesn’t involve strong math or science skills, what I didn’t hear was what she is interested in doing. What sort of careers interest her? Success goes hand in hand with a passion for the field, so she should pursue something that she feels interested in at the very least and passionate about at best.

If she’s totally without direction, then college helps by providing exposure to different subjects, ideas, and people from diverse backgrounds who do have ideas in mind. Perhaps she’ll discover her passion once she’s there.


Is it an interest bearing checking account? (Although rates are still nothing to get excited about. :frowning:)

She likes writing, she excels at learning new languages, but she is very money driven. To quote her “If I make enough money, I can find time for the things I like.” She is planning on majoring in computer science and learning some coding/programming in college, but I also want to open her up to other fields. I think marketing or some areas of business would work well in combining her strengths and desires.

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Yes, but very minimal. I think in the last 6 months she earned about 10 cents. She currently has a USAA account but isn’t averse to changing…again, it’s hard for her to qualify for many offers at her age. She won’t be 18 for another year.

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Yeah, I see that USAA’s rate is only .01%.

At Ally Bank, the checking rates start at .10%. Does she need a full-fledged checking account? If she doesn’t have more than 6 payments-to-others per statement period, she could consider their money market account at .90%.

Charles Schwab checking is .15%. Fidelity cash management is .07%.

I’ve had experience with all of the above and would recommend any of them.

Capital One 360 starts at .20%. No experience with them.

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I thought you said she wasn’t strong in math/science? If she hates her major and is in competition with people who are strong in math/science, then she won’t do as well. CS jobs can be very lucrative, but only if you make it into a “hot” company - either startup or established. Why not major in something she actually likes and get a minor or whatnot in CS? Knowing how to program is helpful in just about any field.

What about international business or becoming a lawyer? True the last one isn’t a great field overall right now, but the right subfields of law are still doing well.


She might want to think about accounting. There are always jobs in accounting. It’s not really math :slight_smile:

As someone else said, she should try to figure this out in year 1 or 2 doing her general studies.

Good luck!


Accounting is good. Also, no matter what career field a kid goes into these days. They need to be bilingual and I mean they need to know how to talk to a computer. Know the basic, how does a relational database works, simple scripting in office application, etc…


I would recommend Alliant Credit Union. Currently checking pays 0.65% and Savings pays 1.16%. She can have multiple savings accounts all linked together so if she wants to divert money into one for saving for a car, and money into another for next semester’s books, she can and might help to stay organized. Free checks and ATM fees rebated up to $20 a month. Good for a college student to have access to any ATM without a fee.


When I say she isn’t strong, that means she struggles to maintain her A’s instead of having high B’s, and there is some frustration with the work. I do get your point and I’ve advised her about choosing something that comes a bit easier to her. She is adamant about not being into law, with its rigid social codes (her main exposure has been to BigLaw/Corp) and we are now discussing business schools in undergrad (Wharton at Penn, McIntire at UVA).


Thanks for the banking suggestions! We will definitely look into those. I’ve let her read this thread and am encouraging her to create her own login here to learn from some of the best! Hopefully she’ll join us soon.

I definitely agree that she needs some computer language knowledge, and wonder if you guys have any suggestions about online tutorials or good books to go along a self taught path? She’s pretty self motivated and has taught herself a couple of languages, so I think she’d be ok with learning the basics on her own.


As an add-on to the accounting discussion, I majored in accounting many years ago, with the intent to become an accountant, possibly a CPA. For reasons that are irrelevant to this discussion, I changed my mind.

However, I can say that accounting math skills are just the basics: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. Unless someone is so completely inept at those basics, or hates working with numbers with a passion, it’s quite doable.

Good idea on trying to learn about computer language ahead of time. (I’m clueless about such things, while my husband programs software all day.) If she likes it, it might help her narrow down her choices of study. If she doesn’t, that’s something to eliminate.


If she’s struggling to maintain A’s in high school, then she’ll do much worse in college (at least any college with a good CS program). I found all those classes easy in high school and still got hammered once I got to college. Not everyone gets the 6 figure software engineering jobs straight out of school, and you need to be at the top to get those.

There are other fields of law (e.g., patent law) which are not quite the same as corporate law. But I know only so much about them.

Accounting is good, but has its issues. She’ll get a job, but doing well requires putting in a lot of hours while the pay is not stellar (good though). My wife is a tax accountant and during her busy season we don’t see each other that much.


Coworking/Coliving platforms are on the rise and employ students from various backgrounds from sales to computer science to accounting/finance/real estate. They have something for the introverts and the extroverts. Though, in my mind, there aren’t a ton lucrative options that are not too “draining”. There is normally a tradeoff of money vs time, especially when you are just launching your career


I’d suggest trying out informatics (broad term) or something data related. I’ve seen these programs under schools of computer science or business/management schools. The shift to data driven decision making in business has created demand for those who can manipulate and control information. With more and more of everyday interactions being digitized and measured, there will no shortage of demand for those who can translate data to business results.

There is a wide range in career path as well from the technical side where data scientists develop algorithms / machine learning (programming and statistics), to the business side that is more management related.

Data knowledge/skills can be found many roles, so there is flexibility in career choice later. But as the others mentioned, finding work that one enjoys doing is pretty important and data isn’t for everyone.


If personal desires don’t matter that much here’s the advice I tend to give. Choose something in the medical field instead of computing as the obsolescence rate is much lower. Doesn’t have to be a doctor as that I think is too much of an investment vs the return. There’s a variety of fields available from nursing, physician assistant, respiratory therapy, clinical sciences, pharmacy, ultrasound/xray/scanning technologies. Top 50 Health Care Jobs. I like the features of nursing since you have options from a 2year RN license to PhD Nursing Anesthesiologist so you can upgrade your career as you go along. Geographically there’s also a lot of flexibility since these kinds of careers are in demand anywhere in the nation whereas tech careers are often in high cost of living areas. After graduation choose an area where the economy is decent but the cost of buying real estate is affordable.

The degree and job are only the initial stepping stone to building financial independence. As others have mentioned start building up credit while in college. After graduation get a job with a W2 to make getting a bank loan to buy real estate. The first property I would buy is a 3-4 unit property using an FHA loan with 3.5% down payment. Live in one unit and rent out the other 3 to cover the mortgage. (You don’t have to live there forever but it’s one of the greatest amount of leverage you’ll ever get buying real estate). Make sure to buy a property where the rents cover the mortgage and then some. My general rule of thumb is to at least look for monthly rent to be at least 1% of the purchase price. (eg $300k property will get $3000 in rent monthly).

After that save your pennies and buy a property every year or two. After about 10 years if you do well then working may become optional and you’ll have financial independence and freedom to work on your hobbies.


CS prof here.

I suggest having her try out the first level CS course to see what she thinks. While it won’t be a perfect representation of the rest of the major, it should give her an idea if it’s something she actually wants to pursue. CS is really about analytical problem solving, and programming is the language we use to solve those problems. Therefore, an early undergraduate program usually has a focus on teaching some programming and the major concepts in solving problems (e.g. divide and conquer, abstraction). Good intro CS courses should make it interesting by engaging the students in some real-world problems. Higher level undergrad CS courses will provide some depth and breadth in the various areas and provide more time to solidify skills.

A few things to note:

  • A student has to really love CS to become a top CS student. Generally, that means doing a decent amount of CS related things outside of the classroom. Students who generally take CS because they think it will lead to a high paying career often do poorly in some of the tougher courses, or may not even be able to finish the major.
  • Many programs have vertical structure. Intro level courses, intermediate courses, and advanced courses. So you want to try to start early to make sure you have the time to do all the courses, and/or decide CS is not for you so you have time to pick another major. Some liberal arts majors let you take almost any of their courses with few or no prerequisites.

Now the good news:

  • Liberal arts and CS are a good mix. Today, companies are looking for well-rounded candidates with good communication, speaking, writing, and collaboration skills. There are many people-facing positions that don’t involve programming, but require someone to generally understand what the programmers need to do. Software Engineers with these skills are much better candidates than the stereotypical “loner tech nerd”.
  • Consider looking for a school with a Human-Computer Interaction, User Experience, or Interactive Design program/minor/concentration. Those are all more people-centered trajectories.
  • I mentioned CS is about problem solving. Those problems come from all disciplines, so it’s natural to find some interdisciplinary problems where you can apply some CS skills and make an impact across things you are interested in.