Having worked around career development centers in my “earlier life” I learned a great deal about what makes a college graduate more “marketable” to prospective employers. Quite often students are drawn to an Economics major or a business program depending on the school.
However, aside from Accounting and Information Systems, a specific undergraduate business major is not necessary at the start of most business careers. The Economics major can do quite nicely. In some ways it could be the better choice. Here’s why:
Then what are the downsides?
This depends on the college you choose as well as the selection of courses within the Economics major. A larger school will offer a broader selection of courses not only the business-related and highly quantitative disciplines within economics but also in areas such as economic theory, international economics and public policy. A smaller school will not offer as many classes, though the classes that you take will be smaller. It will be easier to learn the material in the early going and be better prepared for the more advanced courses later.
How you succeed depends on how well you choose the college that best fits the way that you learn. When I was in college I took large-lecture introductory micro and macro economics courses. I really struggled with the material, even when I asked for help. I chose to major in Political Science instead for this and other reasons. Had I gone to a smaller college I believe that I could have graduated with a double major in Economics and Political Science.
The downsides also depend on the career resources as well as the alumni base of the college. Economics is treated as a liberal arts major at many schools, although some put the major in the business school. In either case the faculty are often less involved in helping undergraduates to secure anything other than an academically-related research position or to gain admission to graduate school. Business faculty are more likely to have industry contacts.
The career center will likely own the internship program for the Economics major, though there are exceptions. Ohio Wesleyan University, for example, has the Bigelow-Reed House, a business and economics living-learning community, as well as the Woltemade Center for Economics, Business and Entrepreneurship. Success in the Economics major, as in any other major, depends in part on the college’s commitment to the major.
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