Seriously, how do kids not know that accounting, finance, computer science, and engineering are hot careers? I knew that shit in high school.
Right.... the above does not compute.
Accounting - Unless its Big 4, even with CPA, your prospective income ceiling is low (around 100k), and software means that demand will be declining steadily in the future.
Finance - Again, it depends on where you work. Unless its Bulge Bracket firms (Goldman, Citi, etc.), you will make well under 100k, and work 60-70 hours a week for it. Even if doing CFA, unless at a big IB, your income potential will be canceled out by high COL in NYC, SF, etc. Also, forget that automated software can be applied even more readily to finance than accounting in many instances (look for increased trimming of the workforce in the Financial sector, its not just computers trading with each other).
CS - Yeah, sorry, but not everyone works for Google, Apple, or Facebook. So slash that starting salary by like 20-30% from what you were imagining. Also, rampant ageism. Ready to be shown the door by your late 30s? And transitioning to tech consulting will not make up for lost income. Also, project management is risky, unless you were a superstar, which means you probably aren't getting the boot in the first place. Also, H1B Visas anyone? Oh right, Congress just greatly expanded them.......
Engineering - you are aware that according to the overly optimistic projections of the BLS and current engineering school enrollment data, that there will be a surplus of roughly 300-400k engineers by 2020, right?..... And we are not counting H1B Visas here either, which have been greatly expanded for engineering as well....
One example here; in biomedical engineering, there are currently around 4-5k grads a year. Number of projected positions available through 2010-2020? Oh wait, only around 10k..... woops!
The harsh truth of the matter is having an undergrad degree will pan out only if you get lucky with contingent circumstances akin to winning the power ball lottery (being in a position to go to HYSPM, relative has buddies in target firm/industry, etc.)
Hence, people do "stupid" things as you see it, and gun for professional school, because generally that is the only way for mortals to make bank.