What if My Child Wants to Pursue a “Top 10 Worst” College Major

Top 10 worst college majors

What If My Child Wants to Pursue a Top 10 Worst College Major?



What are the Top 10 worst college majors and What should you do if your child want to pursue a worst college major?

Our middle son has a passion for filmmaking. His passion began around age 7 with a film created on his “Digital Blue” camera about his imaginary land of “Telbonia.” Since his first film, he has become an award-winning and money-making high school film maker and video producer. I love to share his adventures with friends and family, who invariably ask if he plans to pursue film as a career. As a parent, this is a scary question because from everything we read film is one of the Top 10 Worst College Majors.

What if My Child Wants to Pursue a "Top 10 Worst" College Major 1

Top 10 Worst College Majors



The graphic below shows a 12.9% unemployment rate for recent film and video majors. My husband and I talk about this topic frequently. As two left-brainers with accounting and science degrees, we have no idea what a career in film entails or if it is even a possibility.

So, what should you do if your child wants a degree in film, creative writing, British literature or another major that is not necessarily going to yield a job offer at graduation?

We are forming a plan of action as we wrestle with these questions:

Plan of Action for Top 10 Worst College Majors


We’ve talked and speculated, but now it is time for actual research. Our questions include: What are the top film schools? Are their graduates employed and where? What are the types of film degrees? Is one better than another? Is there a way to double major in film and business or film and something else? Are there business degrees with an emphasis in the film industry? I do not know the answer to any of these questions!

As you visit schools take these 30 Must Ask College Visit Questions with you and check out the College Preparation Template that includes an app to record the answers to all of your questions as you tour.



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 What do these places cost???? Do they give academic scholarships or is a film degree only for the super wealthy and connected?


 We all want our children to be happy and self-sufficient. What if he puts his all into a career in film and it does not work out? What then? Would we feel like failures as parents because we “let” him do this? Would we feel that because we paid for his education, that we are entitled to a return on our investment that includes pride in his accomplishments?

The journey will ultimately be his. He will have to weigh the risk vs. reward of this pursuit. He knows we are not the kind of parents who will allow him to move back into his childhood room as a college graduate. He will be expected to figure out how to support himself with whatever degree he chooses.

Helping a child plan his future can be scary. We are approaching our anxiety with research, research, and more research, including the big question of how to pay for his pursuit. We will help him pursue all scholarship and financial aid opportunities and provide a budget of  our contribution to his college funding. In the end the decision about a college major will be his with the understanding that we will cheer for him the whole way, but expect him to mature into an independent job-holding member of society.

(Update: February 19, 2020)


  • Results of our Research of Top 10 Worst College Majors

We visited several schools with well-regarded film degrees. At 3 of the schools to which he applied, he was required to not only apply to the school, but also to the department. While it makes it much more competitive to be accepted to the school, it is encouraging as a parent that the number of students from the top film schools looking for employment in 4 years will be limited.

Our son is now a junior film major at the University of Texas in Austin. At UT a film degree is called “RTF” or “Radio, TV, Film.” It is in the Communications department. He double-majoring in Advertising, which is also in the Communications department. While we want him to pursue his dreams of film making, we came to an agreement with him that he would also major in a more employable field. Looking at the graph, it appears that there are many jobs in advertising, so we are pleased with this decision.


  • Paying for It

None of the schools we looked at and that he was accepted to are cheap. His choices came down to private colleges in California or out-of-state tuition in Texas. Yay for departmental scholarship money!!!


  • Who Is This Journey About?

The journey is still about our son. We are very proud of his high school accomplishments and the way he has responsibly pursued college. We are excited to see what the future holds for him.


Do you have any experiences (positive or negative) with Top 10 Worst College Majors? If so, I would love for you to comment below with your experiences or share your child's journey so far.




It is now August 2021 and our son Ethan is a proud graduate of  the University of Texas at Austin with two degrees. He graduated with a degree in advertising in May 2021 and then we drove across the country to Los Angeles for him to complete his film degree at the UTLA campus. He spent the summer interning for 2 companies as an UNPAID INTERN. That's right. Those Hollywood internships are unpaid.

But guess what?!!? One of those internships paid off and we are super proud to say he is employed “in the industry.” He is the assistant for David Lonner of the David Lonner Company. We did have a satisfying parent moment when he told us “they liked that I had advertising experience.” Score one for mom and dad!

Some of his friends also have found jobs. Others are still looking. We are aware that it is still not an easy road, but are happy that he is getting paid to be a part of something he has dreamed about since he was a child. 



Laura Dennis and Ethan Dennis at his graduation from UT Austin
Ethan Dennis in front of the Rose Bowl. Hook 'Em!
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More From Almost Empty Nest:

Hey There!

I’m Laura

Welcome to Almost Empty Nest! I began this blog in September 2014 after leaving my oldest son at college and realizing that my nest was emptying. Join me on this journey as we explore the path of guiding our children to adulthood and rediscovering ourselves beyond the mom years.


  1. My brother graduated from Baylor with a degree in piano performance. Even though he hated to perform, he went on to Indiana University for a Master’s in piano performance! Luckily, he is super smart and, as he was working on his Master’s in Math, a friend called him about a job in computer programming. I have a feeling Ethan is smart enough to land on his feet no matter the major!

  2. Hi Laura,
    Very interesting information but is there another page to this post? I feel like maybe I missed part of it.
    Thanks, Terisa

    • Thank you for the feedback, Terisa. I am not exactly sure about your question, but I did reread the end of the post and I don’t think I did a good job of summarizing and ending the post. It does seem to end in mid-thought. I will work on a better wrap-up and post an updated edition soon. Currently the last thing on the post is a chart.

  3. While I have years until my children are old enough to think about college, my husband and I have had the “what if they want to” talks about careers. I love that you mention that it is about them because that’s what we also say. At the end of their day, they need to follow their dreams and be happy. Our job as parents is to make sure they are educated about their choices. This includes having the tough conversations around saying “This might not work out. How long will you struggle to reach your goal before giving up and what will you do when you decide you have had enough?” We like the idea of setting a time period. That way as parents we can fully support their drive to keep going and encourage them to keep going when they want to give up before they should.

    For your son, I see two great things in your journey. The first is that he has had a passion for this field for years. It shows that he truly loves it and really wants to succeed in this career path. His passion will put him above some of the competition.

    Second, he selected a great area for his second focus. Knowledge in advertising will help him along his career path. Not only will he have the proper knowledge to talk to those doing the advertising of his films, but when starting out, he might have the be the one doing all the needed steps for the advertising if he’s doing his own work outside of a large company.

    • Thank you for your comment. There has been some give and take in the process and some heart to hearts about our expectations of his responsibilities in this journey. So far, he has met every one of them. I am happy about his choice to pursue advertising because from my research, all social media will eventually be video and every company will need someone making daily videos to promote their products on social media. Best wishes to you when your day comes with your children 🙂

  4. This is a tough one but I think you guys have handled it well. Discussed reality with your son and given him a secondary option. With his talent I’m sure he will succeed in either or both areas.

  5. We had this conversation many times with our oldest who wanted to do more of the acting route. This all started in middle school. I would totally recommend starting these conversations early like this! We were 100% supportive of him going out to Ny or CA and trying-AFTER he graduated with a college degree. After many years and many conversations, he is double majoring in business and Spanish. He would still like to work in the entertainment industry, but not act anymore.

  6. Great article Laura. It’s so hard to let them be in charge of that journey when we were always the ones navigating before. We went through something similar with our oldest who attends a technical/vocational school. I was surprised to see film, photography and graphic design in that worst list because you mentioned in your comment to Jamie…they seem like they are an extension of today’s advertising/marketing/social media strategies that are critical today.

  7. I love your approach to this topic of majors. I think it is so important to look at and research stats. But it also vital to get out there and talk to schools and others in the actual field. One of our sons loves music so we encouraged him to diversify within that field. So he has gained experience as an audio engineer, video productions and editing and radio. I was surprised that film/video was on the list. That seems like such a HUGE part of our societies focus and our son has not lacked for jobs on college campus and off. But the professors do caution the kids that they need to have skills in video, audio AND graphics because companies want to hire one person to basically do 3 different jobs!

  8. This is such a useful article! As my son is a freshman in high school, we are just starting to work on figuring this stuff out. My son is also, at this point, headed toward being a film major. All of his other interests are also on that list – creative writing, history, literature, graphic design…oh well! Thanks for giving us this info!

    • You are welcome. Best wishes as you explore his future.


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