The higher education world is witnessing a resurgence of the build-your-own-major movement.
The concept of crafting a custom degree isn’t new — it’s been around since the 1960s. But it’s back in a big way as the current generation of students is looking to prepare for a seemingly unpredictable job market.
A Degree in Adaptability
The choose-your-own-adventure college degree has become more popular since the pandemic, coinciding with mass layoffs, the rise of remote work and ensuing shifts in work culture. In the 2020-2021 academic year, individualized studies, the catch-all term for a custom degree, climbed 3% in popularity. This put it on rank 38 of the most popular majors in the U.S., with over 37,000 degrees awarded in total.
Graduating from college is one thing, but the real-life job market is another. Remote work, contract roles, and side hustles are as important to today’s work landscape as full-time jobs, if not more so. The rise of disruptive technology like AI, which could change the nature of many professions, has put adaptability front and center.
While a formal and specific degree may be essential for certain disciplines, including stable and well-paying industries like law and medicine, it’s no longer the only path for financial success. Self-study through online courses, and further education programs mean workers can continuously adapt.
Employers increasingly look for the ability to do the job effectively, regardless of where the skill was acquired. And today’s students are catching on, showing themselves to be self-starters before they’ve even entered the job hunt.
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