Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Liberal Arts Majors Get Hit Upside the Head By Reality

This is absolutely priceless.

It's a 30 minute long podcast from NPR and basically it's the host taking calls from listeners, specifically, recent college graduates to tell him about their current job prospects.

It's a lengthy broadcast, but if you have the time I suggest downloading it because you will get a good guffaw out of it.

In any case, allow me three quick points;

1. The only people calling in are liberal arts majors who cannot find jobs. This unto itself makes it worth listening to, but what is really great is how the host and guests cannot get up the gumption to tell these children their degrees are worthless. The hiring expert users terms like "that's one of the weaker degrees for the current labor market." I especially like how they explain to the "environmental science" major how green jobs are not there for her.

2. They then turn their attention to the employment gap between minorities and whites. And instead of actually helping out minorities by pointing out a disproportionate number of them major in fields that are not in demand, they lie and say, "they don't know" why there is an employment gap. Their cowardice angers me because if you really cared about helping out minorities you would grow a spine and tell them they should major in engineering and computers. But no, that would be "hurting their feelings" and we can't have any of that tough fatherly love (no matter how much it would help out our fellow minority brothers and sisters) now can we?

3. At the tail end, what do you suppose the solution is they recommend? Federal government intervention.

Ah, liberal arts majors and the adults who lie to them.

If only they read my book first. It could have all been avoided.


Elizabeth said...

They can't get a job with their current useless degree- so they actually consider a Master's or PhD in that SAME field???

I'm about half way through listening to the file and am torn between laughing out loud- and vomitting at the stupidity.

pathfinderlight said...

What gets me, is that faculty advisers don't often tell the truth to their students about what job prospects they will have after graduating with a 4-year degree.

Mark L said...

"What gets me, is that faculty advisers don't often tell the truth to their students about what job prospects they will have after graduating with a 4-year degree."

Well, duh. Advisers are there to sell college classes. A worthless degree that cannot get you a job generates more college classes sold than one that gets a student gainfully employed after 4 years. The student with the worthless degree can be convinced that more education is needed -- MA, then PhD, then maybe a second MA in a different field. The student with a marketable degree leaves college.

The only difference between a faculty adviser and a sharper playing three-card monte is that three-card monte is illegal.

Anonymous said...

I will mention one thing, in defense of my own liberal arts degree...

Unemployment rate for HS grads not enrolled in college under 25 years of age right now?


For liberal arts majors (slightly different stat, this one is for 'recent grads' w/in 3 years of graduation):


Remunerative? Maybe not, but at least liberal arts majors spend four years living off their parents or stupid bankers while partying and having sex for four years, instead of slogging away in some mailroom (if they can even get the job).

Celebrating Life Not Hibernating From It said...

And the sad part is that all these graduates with useless degrees think they "deserve" a six figure salary just because they have a college degree. Just another example of students taking the path of least resistance.

Some examples that I personally witnessed: A) at my undergrad I earned a business degree. the college of business required students to take and pass Calculus I and II, plus statistics, before they could be admitted to the college of business. Many stiudents, who couldn't pass or wouldn't take these pre-requisites would major in liberal arts, journalism or communications were popular, then take as many elective courses in the college of business that they could. Then try to pass themselves off as a business major. 2) Worse was I went on to earn an MBA/JD. In a law school class of approx. 200 students there were less than 5 non-liberal arts students, myself and two students who had engineering or science degrees. The majority of liberal arts law students, would sit around and read law journals about how much the average lawyer made not realizing most of them would never reach the "average". Needless to say I chose the business, not legal, career route with all its ups and downs and have no sympathy for the liberal arts majors. Yes reality bites and wearing blinders to hide from it is stupid.

Unknown said...

Should be lots of jobs in call centres for these folks.

Anonymous said...

There are a number of issues at play with this phenomenon. One must be the declining quality of the public secondary education. The Bachelor's degree has, in many respects, become the new high school diploma. I remember in my freshman composition classes being paired up with other students for mindless "group work" and being amazed that they were admitted into a university with such limited literacy.

Also, all through junior high and high school it was constantly drummed into our heads that going to college was basically an absolute necessity. The picture was painted that high school graduates could either go into the military, go to college, or spend the rest of their lives at a fast food register. The very real need of skilled tradesmen, who make good money, was majorly glossed over.

These things have had the effect of making lots of people, who lack the academic and intellectual interest and/or abilities, go into college. It's the law of unintended consequences I guess (though sometimes I wonder about the 'unintended' part when you consider the entrenched interests of the education bureaucracy). Schools are now overcrowded and more expensive, and it's largely because they have been converted into degree factories servicing the multitudes.

I got my degree in computer science, and I am glad I went to college because I made the effort to get something out of it. A lot of people simply don't need to go though, because it ends up being detrimental to all involved -- they who rack up huge debt for basically useless degrees, and the institutions whose intellectual rigor suffers in order to accommodate the masses.

Anonymous said...

Liberal arts majors will get work, but they need to be creative and accept that they might have to 'invent' their job. Yes, market themselves - find a niche that is not being filled and fill it with your skills - whatever they might be! It is hard work but over time it can work. However falling into the trap of 'government' sponsored jobs is a dead end.

mrpaul said...

After reading hundreds and I do mean hundreds of resumes these past few years I can say this: There is almost no difference between HS and college grads. Neither can spell, put together a complete sentence or fact check their own resume. I'm referring to wrong names/phone numbers/addresses for past contacts.)Also no one has told them to dress the part when job hunting. Take out all of your piercings, wear business attire and ladies: I really don't want to see your boobs....well I do but...oh never mind! And guys: Axe stinks, especially by the bottle full. Oh yeah, turn off your damned cell phone!

m said...

When I graduated in Agriculture, our entire class had jobs before graduation. The history, political science types etc were generally unemployed. Sadly they mostly hung around the university or the ones that got jobs worked for government. Any doubt in your mind why government is unable to balance a budget and the University wastes more money than any organization I know of.

bruce said...

four years ago you could have been a zombie and got a job. Remember unemployment was practically zero.

Outside of New York city/ Wash DC I don't think any bodies chances are very good right now.

Even the idiot I have become knew forty years ago a liberal arts degree was colored water.

Tim Wohlford said...

Liberal arts grad here.

There are two things you gotta get during your college years -- an education, and marketable job skills. Colleges and universities love to give you the education, but lie to students by claiming that their education somehow translates into highly-paid job skills. I mean, who wants to hire someone for their knowledge of dead Greek poets or dead German philosophers?

The sad part is that many grads believe they're getting the job skills in specialized degrees, ie, journalism, archeology, "management", etc. The reality is that many of these fields have fewer total jobs slots than the pool of graduates in any given year.

Right ON said...

As I understand it, colleges get subsidy payments from government for each student. The payment per student to the college is the same regardless of the field of study. It is significantly less expensive to offer a courses in liberal arts (or English, Political Science, etc,) than in the useful courses such as the hard sciences or engineering.

As a result, the colleges offer and pump out Arts graduates.

This is a problem.

Anonymous said...

Talked online with an "environmental science" student. He had it drilled into his head that it's real grown-up stuff like science & engineering.

JL said...

I have a liberal arts degree, but while in school I also hustled my ass to get a part-time job in the field I wanted to work in after university, marketing.

When I was done school I had a degree, and even more importantly, experience.

Anonymous said...

If a liberal arts degree is done well, it can be just fine for finding a job. "Done well" means that the student has learned to analyze, write, and understand how people work, all of which are key skills in almost any job field.

I was an English major (from a good school, with a good GPA) and had a job before graduation in 1985. I was hired by an insurance company that sought liberal arts majors because they could get really smart people cheap and then teach them the business.

Within five years, I was making more money than my engineering friends. I left for business school only because I wanted to work abroad and thought the MBA would give me credibility.

The problem now, I think, is a bunch of worthless liberal arts majors (what is women's studies, again?) with lousy grades.

Anonymous said...

Any university that hands out a degree in "Gender Studies" ought to be closed.

Unknown said...

I was in the Army .... and the folks in green taught me enough so that I could start my own construction business. Over the years, I got good at it (even patenting a new razor mesh design for prisons and a floating barrier intended to stop suicide boat attacks on moored ships).

But what I learned at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut was a thorough waste of time.

In fact, discussing philosophy or political science would cost me my credibility with my clients. If anyone asks about my past, I just say "Army". My liberal arts degree is my best-kept secret.

Getting a liberal arts degree was a bad mistake .... like getting drunk and waking up in bed with a goat.

I now just accept that it happened and try to move on.

I am impressed with the candor and the maturity of all that you folks have written.

I wish you all the best of luck.

Mike Courtman said...

In fairness to liberal arts graduates, universities deliberately mislead them about job prospects.

According to university propoganda, science and arts graduates have similar employment rates. What colleges don't tell you is that most liberal arts graduates don't find degree related employment, while most science graduates do.

Liberal arts graduates tend to be pushy extroverts who find jobs in non-degree related fields like retail management or sales. Such jobs don't need university training, and can be found just as easily by working your way up the ladder. Also some of those working liberal arts graduates have some very shitty jobs. In the UK around a third of pole dancers and escort girls have degrees. However, as far as college survey's are concerned, these people are still classified as having found work.

If you're not a people person, and want a steady degree-related job where you get to use your intelligence, then don't do a liberal arts degree.

Anonymous said...

I'm a philosophy major. I have no idea what I want to do after school but I'm not worried about finding work (or rather, not less worried than everyone else). I am inherently a very creative person and have strong critical thinking skills. And the work I do for my major hones these skills immensely.

My memory sucks and I although I find the science very interesting, I just don't have the mind for this type of study. However, I believe my skills are very marketable, both to the workforce and graduate programs in any field.

I took a life science class intended for majors. To my surprise, I did very well in the lab portion of the class. My creative and creative thinking abilities made me (or forced me lol) to look past the hard data and come up with imaginative thesis and testing procedures. I sucked in the lecture exams because it was all just rote memorizing.

What is an employer going to look for; memorization skills or problem solving abilities?

Smart employers don't care about how much shit you can memorize. Smart employers know that philosophy or English degrees entail more that merely having knowledge about dead authors/intellects. A smart employer will know that many liberal arts majors are good thinkers, writers, and are not socially awkward like scientists (jk :p).

I know many people who have gone on to med school and other science related fields with liberal arts degrees. (Though a minor in the science does help.)

People have to accept their strengths and weakness for what they are. I don't think anyone should force him or herself to studying something they don't want to. I’d rather be happy and perhaps earn less money than someone people who works a job they don’t like because they felt compelled to pursue a major they weren’t interested in.

Grad schools look for good grades and commitment to the college experience. Extra curricular activities and interning/work experience matter more to employers than what you degree one has.

Anonymous said...

Liberal Arts professors LIE about the 'value' of the tripe they teach. Who gives a hoot about "truth and beauty and the meaning of life" when you can't feed your family? I spent 6 yrs getting useless degrees and got a great career in programming with a 6 week class. Yes I am a bitter ex liberal arts victim. They should be closed down & good riddance.

MrJoe1987 said...

I believe, wholeheartedly, that the main reason that this bogus, stupid program is so heavily promoted to young people in our country is exactly what you stated in your third point. They want these kids to fail and have no choice but to fall back on the federal government. It's just another operation in the effort to push us into socialism, and sadly, it's working.

Too many stupid people breeding stupid children who grow up to be even more stupid than their stupid parents.

Anonymous said...

I wish I went to a university. I wanted an environmental major but ended up cleaning solar panel for a living. I took automotive classes at a community college and any dealership or autobody shop would hire me on the spot.

Anonymous said...

Degree in Chemistry 1967. Liberal arts degrees were stupid then and still are. The joke at that time was a stopover at journalism before they threw your ass out of school.