In this season of graduation, the website, The Daily Beast has featured a pair of articles that enumerate first the 20 most useless college majors and then the 20 most useful college majors. I question first, why the website chose to go from bad to best, and not the other way around, but that is a minor quibble. My main complaint has to do with what they have judged constitutes useful and useless.
The documentation on judging criteria is sketchy at best. Suffice to say, utility is equated with expected salary. The higher the expected income of an average graduate, the more useful a degree is judged. Conversely, the lower the degree’s return on investment, the less it is accorded usefulness. Extrapolating along this continuum, we should all aspire to become Harvard bankers or lawyers.
This aspiration is neither realistic nor desirable. Not everyone has the aptitude for finance or law. Most people couldn’t get into Harvard anyway. Besides, most Americans would agree, this country has too many of those ilk already.
Most Americans attend college to better themselves and prepare themselves for their careers. Americans want to make money in the marketplace, earn a comfortable living, and raise a family. Most of all, college graduates want to pursue happiness. Young people today do not submit to the same depredations that were meted out when I was young. Corporate America is waking up to this fact. It makes little sense to abuse a young worker, who you are basically paying to learn, because they are just going to take your training elsewhere.
Our son, Dave, has a Biomedical Engineering degree, deemed by the Daily Beast to be the most useful degree. Our son, Dan, has a Fine Arts degree, deemed to be the 17th least useful degree. In these screwy rankings, a lower number is better for Dave, while a higher number is better for Dan. According to these rankings, Dave is scheduled to make twice as much as Dan; both to begin with and also down the road. Both our sons were born with roughly the same abilities, but along the way they developed different aptitudes and consequently, have chosen different paths, paths that purse their own happiness.
The Daily Beast, tells us to put our money on Dave, the engineer, the safe bet. I prefer to diversify our portfolio and spread the risk. Anne and I love both of our sons equally and want both of them to prosper and find happiness. Years ago, when Dan embarked upon his career path, Anne told him to do what he loved to do and figure out how to live on it. It took me longer to come around, but I concur now too. Besides, both these Beast’s articles were likely written by journalism majors. These self-same journalist have in a pique of self-flagellation given their own degrees the moniker of the most useless college major. It almost makes you want to give them a hug.
Bike Ride Report – Anne is 10 for 10, with 10 on the 10th.