Five Degrees to Help Shy People Shine

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If you have a personality type that's a bit on the timid side, consider these degree programs that could help you break out of your shell.

By Tony Moton

With its crowded classrooms and endless class participation, college might give a shy person reason for concern. But more importantly, shyness might also affect how someone decides which degree to undertake.

"A lot of times, they will choose degrees where they don't have too much interpersonal communication, interaction, or speaking," says University of Nevada-Las Vegas Career Counselor Lauren Johnson. For example, "[degrees in the] sciences are ones where they might not have to deal with people as much."

If shy people want to break out of their shells, however, they should probably pick degree programs that will counteract their bashfulness. But how will they know which ones to pick if they're too shy to ask?

Not to worry. Here are five degree programs that could help shy people shed their timid ways - no questions asked.

Degree #1: Communications

Are you a shy person who craves the right opportunity to let your voice be heard? If so, earning a bachelor's degree in communications might help you express what's on your mind.

Goodbye to Shy: Studying a bachelor's degree in communications "might be one of the best degrees for shy people because you have to talk," says Johnson.

In a communications program, shy people might be required to frequently engage in group-based projects, says Johnson. If they warm-up to group settings, shy people could advance to giving speeches and oral reports as part of class exercises, which ideally would help them come out of their shells.

Click to Find the Right Communications Program Now.

More About the Degree: A bachelor's program in communications might expose students to the various ways people share information with each other - including through television and the Internet - according to the College Board, the educational organization that conducts the SAT exam. Courses might cover the dynamics of group communication, writing, and research methods.

Potential Careers and Median Annual Salaries:*
Reporter and correspondent: $34,870
Editor: $52,380
Technical writer: $64,610


Degree #2: Business Administration

What can a shy person with corporate aspirations do to offset a timid nature? How about earning a bachelor's degree in business administration?

Goodbye to Shy: You've probably heard there's no "I" in "team," but when studying business administration, there's also no "shy" in "team." Johnson notes that shy students in a business administration program can expect to participate in team-oriented projects that replicate real-world business practices.

For shy types looking to get better at interpersonal relationships, studying business administration at the bachelor's level could help them understand how to interact with others productively, Johnson adds. "You'll learn how to manage personalities and find out what kind of personalities you get along with," he says.

Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program Now.

More About the Degree: In a business administration and management program, students could learn how to organize and direct a company's activities while honing leadership skills, according to the College Board. Accounting, marketing, economics, and business ethics and law are among the courses commonly taken by students in this program.

Potential Careers and Median Annual Salaries:*
Financial manager: $107,160
Market research analyst: $60,250
Human resources manager: $99,130


Degree #3: Criminal Justice

Could a shy person ever shield others from harm or danger? Without the right training, not likely. But a bachelor's degree in criminal justice could teach shy people how to defend and protect others in need.

Goodbye to Shy: As a criminal justice major, a shy person might find an opportunity to express their concerns for public safety, says Johnson.

Subject areas that could help stimulate a shy person's talkative side include studying the psychology of the criminal mind and evaluating prison systems, according to Johnson.

"They might have to do projects involving research on prison systems, centralized versus decentralized or American versus European prison systems," Johnson says. "The projects might have them do a presentation on those subjects, so they would have to talk."

Click to Find the Right Criminal Justice Program Now.

More About the Degree: The College Board says criminal justice majors generally study different aspects of crime, the law, and the justice system. They also might focus on the way law enforcement agencies work.

Common courses taken in the program, according to the College Board, might include statistics, criminology, juvenile justice, and policing society.

Potential Careers and Median Annual Salaries:*
Probation officer or correctional treatment specialist: $47,840
Police officer:  $54,230


Degree #4: Medical Assisting

Do you obsess over TV medical dramas at home, but find yourself clamming up in a real doctor's office? Maybe you  should consider studying medical assisting, where you'll have a nice introduction into the world of medicine.

Goodbye to Shy: During a medial assisting program, a shy person might need to shelve timid behavior in order to learn how to communicate face-to-face with patients.

"It's going to help them get out of their shyness because they have to ask patients questions and bring things up with the doctor," Johnson says.

A medical assisting program would be ideal for shy people because it would force them to zero in on the nuances of human interaction. A valuable skill a shy person might develop during the program, according to Johnson, is interpreting a patient’s body language.

Click to Find the Right Medical Assisting Program Now.

More About the Degree: During a certificate or associate's degree program in this major, a student might learn about the administrative and clinical tasks for assisting doctors, according to the College Board.

Common courses taken in this program might include diagnostic procedures, medical terminology, and diseases of the human body, according to the College Board.

Potential Career and Median Annual Salary:*
Medical assistant: $29,100


Degree #5: Public Relations

As a shy person, are you tired of being talked at and would rather do more of the talking yourself? Studying a bachelor's program in public relations could help you develop skills as a sounding board for others.

Goodbye to Shy: There is a reason this major isn't called private relations. A public relations program teaches students how to deal with people and organizations in a highly visible manner.

And being visible means being prepared to shed your timid side during this program, says Johnson.

Just how much shedding? "You practice talking to people a lot, whether it's marketing classes or doing group projects," says Johnson. "You're going to be held accountable by professors if you have to do a presentation, be interactive, or work as a team player."

Click to Find the Right Public Relations Program Now.

More About the Degree: Public relations majors might learn how to develop a media campaign, practice writing press releases, and study image management, according to the College Board. Common courses include principles of advertising and speech writing.

Furthermore, adds Johnson, a bachelor's degree program in public relations can also teach students how to represent clients and organizations who want to publicize their brands.

Potential Careers and Median Annual Salaries:*
Public relations specialist: $53,190
Public relations manager: $86,470


*All related careers information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition. Related careers were determined on the basis of the Handbook, which references the related degree as either required, preferred, or good preparation for the related career.


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