The Best Majors to Keep Your Kids from Moving Back In


Will your kid's college degree help them land a job…or land back at your house?


Here's how raising a kid should work: You cook, clean, and shelter them for about 18 to 21 years max. Then they graduate college, move out on their own, and come for pleasant visits during the holidays and special occasions, maybe even (dream of dreams) picking up the check at lunch once in a while thanks to their new job.

Unfortunately, that's easier said than done, as evidenced by the so-called "boomerang generation." These are young adults who move back in with their parents for mostly economic reasons. And in recent rocky economic times, these boomerang kids have become quite common.

Consider that three out of ten 25- to 34-year-olds live with their parents, according to a 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan research institute that studies trends in America. Another study, by Trulia, an online real estate information center, found that 44 percent of unemployed 18- to 34-year-olds live with their parents.

How can parents help their kids buck this trend?

"If you can combine your passion with a more employable major, you'll have a higher likelihood of landing a job that will satisfy your needs for security and fulfillment," says David Reynaldo, founder of, a college admissions consulting and major matching firm.

But combining passion with practicality takes knowledge and information. So we took a look at the 2013 Hard Times report by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, which tracks the unemployment rates for recent graduates in dozens of bachelor's degrees.

Below are details on the seven majors that came in with some of the lowest unemployment rates.

Smart Major #1: Nursing

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Unemployment Rate for Recent Grads:* 4.8 percent

Did your youngster bring home more than their share of sick or wounded pets and nurse them back to health? That caring streak could bode well for their independence if they choose to pursue a bachelor's in nursing. This major had the lowest unemployment rate on the Georgetown list.

Why It's Promising: "With the introduction of the Affordable Health Care Act, health care professionals have more patients to serve, so the demand for nurses has increased," says Reynaldo. Plus, more than half of the nursing workforce is nearing retirement, and hospitals and most doctors' offices now require nursing candidates to have bachelor's degrees, as opposed to lesser nursing credentials, for this large job market, he adds.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Nursing Program.

If your son or daughter chooses nursing as a major, they could learn everything from treating patients' immediate health concerns to caring for people with long-term conditions, says the College Board, a nonprofit research organization that promotes higher education.

Potential Career:**

Smart Major #2: Elementary Education

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Unemployment Rate for Recent Grads: 5.0 percent

Did your kid love school and even pretend to be the teacher during playtime? Then pursuing a bachelor's in elementary education as an adult might be the right path for your son or daughter.

Why It's Promising: College grads who hold a degree in elementary education could have many teaching opportunities thanks in part to one factor: retiring teachers.

"Over the next six years, many teachers will be reaching retirement age and only individuals with teaching credentials will be eligible for these jobs," says Reynaldo. He notes that some areas may actually have a surplus of teachers, though. So if your kids go down this path, know that they may have to fly further from the nest than planned.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Elementary Education Program.

As an education major, your kid could learn how to create engaging lesson plans, manage classrooms, and much more, notes the College Board.

Potential Careers:

Smart Major #3: Physical Fitness, and Parks and Recreation

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Unemployment Rate for Recent Grads: 5.2 percent

When they're not living free at your house, is your son or daughter spending time in the great outdoors or playing sports? A bachelor's degree in physical fitness or parks and recreation might be a smart choice.

Why It's Promising: Bachelor's degrees in physical fitness do well in the job market, because many of the jobs these grads get are in the health care industry, which is booming, says Carnevale. As for parks and recreation, he says that in the past few years, national as well as local public parks have been hiring due to retirements of an aging staff, which should continue.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Program for You.

Health and physical fitness majors learn how to help people become better athletes and how to promote physical fitness, says the College Board. Parks, recreation, and leisure studies majors learn how to provide recreational services to the public.

Potential Career:

Smart Major #4: Chemistry

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Unemployment Rate for Recent Grads: 5.8 percent

Did your life as a parent often feature coming home to the mess of a failed science experiment all over the kitchen floor? Nudging your wannabe scientist toward a bachelor's degree in chemistry could result in a spare bedroom for you, a career for them, and less of your stuff blown up.

Why It's Promising: "Chemistry has always been a popular major for students pursuing pharmaceutical and medical careers, where there are many jobs," says Reynaldo. He adds that because medicine and technology are finding ever-increasing numbers of medicines, it's paved the way for even more chemistry-related jobs in this growing industry.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Program for You.

According to the College Board, your kid could study everything from thermodynamics and biochemistry to organic chemistry when earning a chemistry degree.

Potential Careers:

Smart Major #5: Finance

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Unemployment Rate for Recent Grads: 5.9 percent

Did little Billy or Sally love putting any extra coins into their piggy bank growing up? Well, you may want to encourage your kid to earn a bachelor's degree in finance, which could also teach your progeny to manage their own money wisely as well.

Why It's Promising: Every business needs a "finance guy" with a finance degree who is prepared to handle the complexity of managing assets in today's world, says Carnevale.

Reynaldo adds, "The finance sector is recovering in a climate of higher regulations related to management and reporting." So that is creating more job opportunities for finance grads.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Finance Program.

If your college kid chooses finance as a major, he or she could study how to make wise investments, manage a budget and how to plan for the long-term, says the College Board. Sounds like knowledge that could be well used to help your kids avoid moving back into your house, too.

Potential Careers:

Smart Major #6: Hospitality Management

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Unemployment Rate for Recent Grads: 6.0 percent

Anyone with kids probably feels like they're majoring in hospitality management. So maybe it's time to turn the tables. Plus, a bachelor's in this field could prep your rent-free boarder for opportunities - outside of your home.

Why It's Promising: "Every employee gets vacation days, and with improved economic conditions, more people are traveling," says Reynaldo. That has meant a rebound of the tourism industry, which has led to an increase in the need for those with education and experience in hospitality management, he says.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Hospitality Management Program.

Pick hospitality management as a major and your kid gets a free dorm room in a hotel! Ok, that's not true, but he or she can expect to learn to run hotels, restaurants, and other businesses that help travelers and vacationers, says the College Board.

Potential Careers:

Smart Major #7: Marketing and Marketing Research

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Unemployment Rate for Recent Grads: 6.6 percent

Does your kid spend an exorbitant amount of time on social media sites or following current trends? Well, believe it or not, those skills could be put to good use in a bachelor's in marketing or marketing research program, which itself seems to be pretty marketable.

Why It's Promising: Two words: social media. "The rise of social media has given every business the opportunity to strategically reach more potential customers," says Reynaldo. So, businesses are looking for more marketing people to take advantage of that.

Also, says Carnevale, businesses have gathered loads of information on customer trends over the past decade, and companies now need market research majors to help make that information profitable.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Marketing Program.

As a marketing major, your son or daughter could learn how to sell and market products and services in ways that create buzz and a loyal customer following, says the College Board. And if they choose to major in marketing research, they'll learn prepare for business careers by studying people's buying habits.

Potential Careers:

* All unemployment rates from the 2013 Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

** All potential careers listed from the 2013-2014 U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook. The Department of Labor cites the associated degrees as common, required, preferred, or one of a number of degrees acceptable as preparation for the potential career. In some instances, candidates might require further schooling, professional certifications, or experience, before being qualified to pursue the career. For the degrees of marketing and marketing research and physical fitness and parks and recreation, one of the degrees mentioned was included in the education requirements for the potential careers.

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