Skip to comments.Money Is a Terrible Way to Measure the Value of a College Major
Posted on 01/23/2014 12:45:38 PM PST by Borges
The cliche about majoring in humanities is that it's a lovely way to spend four years of college and poor way to land a lucrative job. To some extent, that cliche may be true. On the whole, humanities grads earn less than students who study disciplines like business or engineering. So sayeth the statistics.
But the Association of American Colleges and Universities would like you to know that getting a degree in English or History, while perhaps not the most financially rewarding choice, doesn't require an oath of poverty either. Over a lifetime, they note, typical humanities and social science majors earn similarly to graduates who study practical, pre-professional fields such as education or nursing.
(Excerpt) Read more at theatlantic.com ...
I had a job one time where our VP over Software Development was a BA in English Lit. Go figure. I was not there long enough to gauge her effectiveness.
Only if you miss the WHOLE POINT of college... and also don’t understand the word VALUE.
The statement of what a fluff major can make over the years might be true for a lot of them.
I teach at a medium size university that has traditionally focused on older, returning, lifetime learners. That is the key. Many of the students I see in courses who want an IT degree or business degree are former fluff majors.
Now, taking and learning from the English and history courses is still important for a well-rounded educated individual but those types of majors won’t in the long run be very satisfying for most students in the long run.
A lot of college majors are hobbies — Art History, Literature, theater, etc.
while it may be true that every one catches up to others, the only reason humanities etc make any money is that they go into teaching in college or completely change their job searches to something more practical....
There is value in a liberal arts degree if it comes from the right place. Ask a Hillsdale College graduate.
The only way to judge the effectiveness of a liberal arts education is to find out how well the student adheres to communist ideologies.
“Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.”— Joseph Stalin
Maybe in the 19th century when people went to college to be more rounded in their education, when most of the folks going were on the life path to “good” jobs before ever getting near college. But this is the 21st century, now we go to college to get jobs, and you need to gauge the cost of the degree to the wage it’ll get you.
I’m a liberal arts guy who rejected communism BEFORE leaving college in 1980, partly thanks to Jimmy Carter’s presidency. The author is absolutely correct. One of my closest friends majored in history and now holds a very high paying internet security position for a major bank, putting him in the Top .5% salary-wise.
I am a financial advisor and am doing very well now. If you keep up the learning it pays off quite a bit. I still read pretty much EVERY day and it really helps my practice. Liberal Arts is supposed to be about thinking critically, not reciting mush.
And it used to be that companies actually trained people.
Now they expect you to know everything to day you first come through the door.
No, it’s not.
Of course back then the place that hired you and trained you was where you stayed until you retired. Once people started being mobile in their jobs (both voluntarily and by force) the whole game changed.
Would you like fries with that would seem to be a follow up question.
When colleges and universities return to the concept of education instead of indoctrination - then they can talk about the value of a Hunanities Degree.
I'll happily agree with that premise, if universities will also agree that money is a terrible way to pay for a degree.
Value is entirely subjective, on an individual basis. But if you look on a more macro scale, as the average return on that investment increases, so too does the average value. I know several people are happy working a job, paying their bills and buying the beer. They’re content with the status quo, and don’t mind if that’s how the rest of their lives go. An expensive engineering degree has little value to them, but the cheap humanities degree they have is well worth the position they’re in. But some people want to achieve more (or less) and for them, a higher-earning degree has more value, and a humanities one, none (or no degree has value if they don’t need it).
Yes, while one is standing in line at the Church Pantry, after having been to the UIC office and by the County Services office to reapply for SNAP, etc., they can reflect on the real meaning and import of selected choices from The Canterbury Tales and relate that to current times of “Party in the USA.”
Funny... I’ve got an English Literature degree, but I knew early on that I had ZERO interest in teaching. I started out copy editing tech books for McGraw-Hill, and parlayed that into a career as a technical writer, first on a contract basis and later on salary. Now I do tech writing in the pharmaceutical industry at a manufacturing site, and while I’m not in the top 0.5% of income, I’m doing well enough to be supporting my family of six, of which two are in college.
Scouts Out! Cavalry Ho!
Bingo. Took the words right off my keyboard.
I expect the real problems arise when one has an expensive humanities degree, unless your parents were rich and paid cash. I knew some of these people in college, as well as the ones on scholarship getting the degrees that would move them up into a high-earning job, compared to their parents.
One of the kids has a BS in Chem, a Masters in Biology and and Doctorate in Physiology and is working outside those fields with great satisfaction. Another kid as a BS in Chem and General Science, a minor in Physics and didn’t want to battle the reasearch bound guys in Masters programs so is teaching science.
Another family major started with a BA in History but also later got an MBA and spent a good career in Healthcare Management managing clinical people with clinical educations.
While formal education can be a qualifier, it doesn’t dictate where you end up. It sure didn’t with me.
I had a double major: Frisbee and Euchre. Minored in Beer. I can't put a value in dollars on those degrees, but I sure had fun getting them.
Thank you. I don’t want to sound like an Occu-whiner, but if people no longer have well-rounded grounding in Western Civilization and the Humanities, society is going to suffer in little, gradual, subtle ways.
Students who were going there primarily to get a truly universal education and whose goals were to learn from the great art and literature of the past and help preserve and advance it going forward.
It would be so great if the humanities were once again seen as a guilty pleasure rather than as some sort of humanizing program. A luxury that only the wealthy could afford to partake in full time.
Eliminate all of the psychobabble and sociobabble from the humanities and replace it with good research and well-considered analysis.
“Liberal Arts is supposed to be about thinking critically, not reciting mush.”
Degree in Psychology; now I am Director of IT for a Southeastern Corporation (self-taught).
Sure, just “Do What You Love” and soon Skittle-pooping Unicorns will be showering you with love. But not money.
Well, my hobby is building blinky things that go “beep”. It’s just that if I spent 40k on a hobby I’d make sure first to be able to sell the blasted thing.
Exactly. The value is entirely subjective, and variable.
I’m a drop-out English major, and a little bitter. But a lot of the problems with my so-called college career had to do with other problems I had at the time, some of them of my own making.
To me one if the re al problems is what I call “education inflation”. That is you need a degree to even apply for a job that a high school or e en 8th grade grad could have done in grandfathers day. This may seem to contradict what I said earlier about a foundation in Western civ etc., but people can get some of that in grade and high school. We studied Shakespeare in high school(ok, it was in an elective class). Homeschooled people are very likely to have that type of stuff.
I have a friend who claims that the reason Mickey Mouse jobs require coege degrees is that they would like to give people I Q tests, but can’t, so figure that will serve the same purpose. Rush Limbaugh claims its just an arbritrary screening device for jobs that get a gazillion applicants. I don’t really buy either of these theories.
I also heard Michael Medved say that having “some” college but no degree on your application or resume is worse than none because it makes you look like a quitter. That’s pretty sad, because despite all the pain and problems, I have no doubt whatsoever that my bit of college has enriched my life and made me smarter. I probably would have never read Ulysses on my own, for example.
Medved is a turd. Don’t let anything he says get you down.
As individuals and society, we must perform a cost benefit analysis of 4 years of life and $50K to $200K of cost.
A religious or philosophical group can say the benefit is beyond measure. A college cannot, when there are many lower cost options and better uses of personal and collective (taxpayer) money.
I know that I should quit him, but can’t. It’s the same with Michael Savage.
My ex-bf used to come over when Medved was on and scream “Turn it off, turn it off.” He couldn’t stand even a few seconds of Medved, but it was fun to torment him with it.
Yikes! Your life would improve dramatically if you got thee away from both of those asshats ASAP. This I promise you.
I took Leather Craft 101 one time for a quick credit. It was fun!
Articles like this are analogous to throwing hunks of red meat to starving dogs. You see, many Freepers worship at the feet of the Great God, Engineering. And you don’t get a degree in said subject, you’re just a pathetic loser.
They concede that degrees in some other disciplines, all of which must be in the “hard sciences” category may be worthwhile. But that’s about it.
In our Founding Father’s days, the only bachelors degree you could get was in philosophy. Men were trained so that they understood human nature, because the roles they were working towards were in law and divinity. Everything else was considered a trade.
At least English and history majors can teach, which doesn’t pay that well (at least at the beginning) but makes for steady work with benefits the rest of us don’t get (like 3 months off and tenure). It’s the “studies” majors that are really screwed - hate to be someone with a shiny new degree in lesbian bondage studies and $150K debt working at the burger joint for minimum wage.
I’ll pray for strength.
Good for him! Had lunch today with a softball buddy and his 40+ year old son has a degree in history from Notre Dame........He's a postal worker in Alaska......go figure.
“You see, many Freepers worship at the feet of the Great God, Engineering.”
I have a liberal arts degree, BA-Chemistry, and I have a science degree, BS-Chemical Engineering. Both have served me well.
Recently I had cataract surgery...my MD Ophthalmoligist got a BS-Electrical Engineering before going the MD route. The Optometrist (Doctor of Optometry) in the clinic got a BS-Mechanical Engineering, didn’t care that much for it, and went on for O.D. Her husband also got a BS-Mech Engr, then went on to get his M.D. and did a residency in Neurology.
Point is an Engineering degree can be the ticket to an interesting and rewarding career in industry, with or without practicing Engineering. It can also be just an ‘undergraduate degree’ that eventually leads to other things. In the three examples cited above, they happened to be the ‘foundation’ for rewarding careers in Medicine.
Now I am in ‘retirement’, after 40 years in manufacturing industry. Today I am busy helping people with natural solutions to health concerns...not to supplement retirement income, but to help people. Been doing this now for nearly 10 years, and consider myself a researcher and a consultant, teaching treatment remedies.
And btw, I do not ‘worship at the Great God, Engineering’. Your comment regarding that has the ring of some disappointment, or sour grapes or a bitterness toward ‘Engineering’ or ‘Engineers’.
“...they would like to give people I Q tests...”
In 1959 when I was drafted into the U.S. Army they were giving I Q tests to all new recruits. Don’t know if that is still the case, but it was then. (And I know my score...). As a result of that and my BA-Chemistry I was assigned to the Army Medical Research Lab at Ft Knox. Work-wise there I reported to two civilian PhD’s. It was a great experience.