If students don't know what career they want to pursue, they might visit the college bookstore and see what textbooks they would most want to read, Brooks said.
"When I look at where philosophy majors go, at alumni lists from here at UT and also from other schools where I've worked at, they're CEOs of companies, they're lawyers, they're doctors, they're surgeons because they're bright people," Brooks said.
Internships, jobs, contacts and the ability to market a degree can sometimes be more important than a student's field of study, experts said.
"It's not necessarily the major, but how you prepare," Naegeli said.
Jorge Callado, who graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington in May, received several job offers. He has a bachelor of business administration degree in finance, had a perfect 4.0 grade-point average, worked 38 hours a week while in school, held leadership positions at school organizations, can speak Spanish fluently and was a member of UT-Arlington's selective Goolsby Leadership Academy.
A key advantage was his involvement in the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting. At the group's August conference in Phoenix, Callado met with recruiters from such companies as Goldman Sachs and Disney World. He has begun a management training program with Microsoft.
"I just got really lucky," he said. "Everything fell into place."
Sometimes students might need to consider careers that don't have a direct connection to their majors, said Laurence Shatkin of New Jersey, author of several career-related books, including "150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs." He said Schimpff, 22, might want to consider marketing research, a growing industry. Schimpff's analytical and real estate skills may serve him well in that field, Shatkin said.
"There are some people who have exceptional ability, and they're going to make out even in the riskiest careers," Shatkin said. "Be cognizant of the risks of what you're doing, particularly if you're going into something where there's a lot of competition."
c) 2009, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.