What do you mean, that underwater basket-weaving degree was useless?

…or, Compare and contrast:

Andi Meuth earned a history degree from Texas A&M in May and has applied for 150 jobs, so far with no luck….

Kevin Davis, who earned an electrical engineering degree from the University of Texas at Austin, had three job offers before he graduated in May. He took a job with Toshiba in Houston.

Wow, that pretty much speaks for itself. A history degree, in this economy? To each his own, but I really don’t have any sympathy. And then there was another example of a guy with a bachelor’s in psychology who did find a job but it was not in his field. Small wonder, though, as — according to Eva Esquivel, communications manager at Alamo Workforce Solutions —  Texas colleges & universities graduated about 5,000 people with bachelor’s degrees in psychology…for 4 job openings in the field, with an average salary of $22,000. Left unsaid was whether those jobs would require a master’s degree, but it’s pretty well-known — or should be, at any rate — that a bachelor’s degree in psychology is useless by itself.

I suppose I am a fine one to talk, considering my own degree that is also highly specialized, but I bet you recruiters at USAA would find a communication degree a lot more useful than a history degree. I remember way back when, my technical writing professor compared the relative worths of a history degree from TAMU vs. a history degree from UT, implying that the one from UT was worth more.

Even with that, though, even then I was wondering, what the hell can you do with a degree like that? Degrees in majors like that have always struck me as higher education’s version of multi-level marketing. In other words, what can you do with a degree in something like history or Native American poetry? Why, you can teach the next generation of history or Native American poetry majors, of course. Not a hell of a lot beyond that, at least as far as something that’ll keep your belly full and the lights on is concerned. Sure, my communication degree with the emphasis in journalism was more or less pretty specialized, but I’d like to think it helped me at least a little bit with my current job. At best, though, it was completely ancillary. (Tech support, for the record. They considered my knowledge of different types of wireless encryption a lot more important than my writing ability, at least if the job interview was any indication.) And I will freely admit that if I had it to do over again, I’d have studied something different.

I wonder, could the same be said of the history & psych majors?



3 Responses to “What do you mean, that underwater basket-weaving degree was useless?”

  1. drjim Says:

    Spot on!
    When I was in college I started going towards a Physics degree, but wound up in EE with a Physics minor. Out of all the people I met who were getting liberal arts/fine arts degrees, I always wondered what they’d do for a living after college. Some indicated they’d continue on to get their Masters degree, and then go into a PhD program, but I always thought they were just kicking the can down the road, or being professional students.
    I’ve went on to have a very interesting career in Electronics, while most of them wound up working in fields where their degree got them exactly NOTHING.

    • southtexaspistolero Says:

      I always thought they were just kicking the can down the road, or being professional students.

      Yeah, that was my impression as well. I managed to get a job in my field (newspaper reporter) right after graduation, close to home, even. But that was a stroke of luck more than anything, as there was an opening at one of the local papers right about the time I graduated and I was the most qualified applicant the boss had talked with to that point. But it didn’t pay for shit, I didn’t get a raise the entire time I worked there, (after I took an almost $3-per-hour pay cut to go there) and it got to the point that the company was making us take five unpaid days off every quarter because the company — hell, the entire industry — was and still is in such bad shape.

      Just for grins, drjim, what do you do?

  2. drjim Says:

    What do you need done?
    Well….I’ve worked at Fermilab, Hughes Aircraft, DirecTV, Boeing, and a few start-ups during the Internet bubble, where they got rich, and I got screwed.
    Primarily I’m a “Radio Guy” (RF Engineer), but I’ve also done a lot of Industrial Controls, Manufacturing Engineering, Power Supply Design, Networking (over the radio before it was fashionable!), Satellite Communications, and misc computer stuff.
    I’ve been all over the world for various employers, and wouldn’t trade it for anything, although I do regret never serving in our military.
    I did help design and build a lot of Really Neat Stuff that the military uses, though, so I suppose I served in some small way.

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