Good discussion about "useless" college majors...

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No college major is useless. What is needed is more education and less memory and regurgitation. Its not that the universities are that bad, maybe one should consider what they have to work with. Dan
 

Kestas

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On the other hand, trade schools are very underappreciated as a career path. Not everyone is cut out for college. Many good tradesmen make a better living than many college graduates.
 

JHZR2

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Education of all types (all majors) ise useful in theory, but in today's world, the reality is that one must have a set of abilities that creates large amounts of value. Yes, its great if youre well read in classic East-Asian Literature... and can impart wisdom from that, but what does t enable you to do if youre not cut-out to go for a PhD in same? Not a whole lot. Same deal with Biology majors. In my graduating class, there were more biology majors than anything. OK, it is an interesting science, I dont deny that... but of the thousands that graduate with that major, a LOT will not go to grad school for a Ph.D or a medical degree, and many would not care to become a teacher. So, they can become the manager at wal-mart, same as if they had any other degree. In my opinion, 'fluff' degrees should have some form of weighing as far as their value goes. A 'standard' course of study should be along the lines of a mathematics major, which, though it may not have that wonderful an applicability to the outside world either, at least imparts some analytical and logical skills that the majority of people are sorely missing these days. MANY people want the path of least resistance to get their slip of paper. This is part of the reason why society, despite the gobs and gobs of excellent knowledge that exists, gets dumber each passing day. It is unfortunate, but people should either be on an advanced degree track, a technical track (including engineers, accountants, medical professionals, etc), or else be stuck doing math. Underwater basketweaving is not a particularly useful sort of major. Otherwise, I agree with Kestas. Trade schools are underappreciated, and yet extremely ueful in creating specialists in fields that are not ging to go away anytime soon, and which often truly skilled professionals are in short supply. The only problem that I know of is that if education is proportional to earning power, and you have a really good, fully trained plumber, trying to make an equivalent wage... some people fuss about the fact that a aborer such as that can be pulling in more per hour than the person paying for the work does... Ive heard that gripe endless times,but often it also comes back to what said person did in colege, and how useful a major they had - and thus how well they can execute what they have been charged to do in an efficient way that creates more value and makes them worth their pay... nobody can deny that when your toilet is overflowing, that the 'uneducated' plumber is creating a LOT more value, with his obviously superior skillset, than Ms. Underwater basketweaver college grad, JMH
 
I do not think all college degrees are useless. I think it depends on the individual and their drive to work hard and excell at what he or she does. Bill Gates and many CEOs are examples of people who became very wealthy with no college education. Then again people view college two ways: Education and Wealth. A lot of computer programmers I know at work went to college for Engineering or other degrees and then taught themselves programming after college or when they joined a programming job. One programmer never went to college but got the job because he is a well to do self taught programmer. Interesting thing - a lot of these guys hate their job and several (including my co-worker) are back in college learning other things (law, finance, etc...). So what I think is hard for kids to decide their future when they are 18 fresh out of high school. I have this very same problem. I've changed my major like 5 times and almost have an AA in Accounting, Business Law, Computer Science, History, Philosophy, and Criminal Justice after 3 years at a community college. I just don't see how learning visual basic for computer science will help you program in Borland Builder or Microsoft C# in .net. Accounting and criminal justice classes are very job specific so I see how those would be applicable. Either way, I think it all comes down to the individual - how much they want to learn and excell at their work. Of all the jobs I've had (Income Tax, programming companies, Govt work, and yes - Wal-Mart) - you'll have to learn something brand new. Your determination to master that will determine how far you get in that company. Obviously this doesn't apply to companies that require you have a degree in something to work there.
 
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Columbus, OH
My degree is pretty worthless: Family Resource Management. However, it did the job I intended it to do: Get me a job in a field where I had lots of prior experience, but I needed some sort of degree. It has other side benefits too: I can manage my 403(b), competitively shop for (and understand) loans, etc. It was basically family financial planning, which is a skill that more people my age (I'm 24) could stand to have.
 
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When speaking of a college major or degree, too many people define "useful" in terms of how much money it allows you to make. Knowledge is useful for other purposes. For example, it can open up your mind; it can make you a better, more well-rounded person; it can be useful in the areas or your life that are not devoted to making money; knowledge is good for its own sake; and the old saying that "knowledge is power" has much truth to it.
 
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Northern CA
Quote:
I just don't see how learning visual basic for computer science will help you program in Borland Builder or Microsoft C# in .net.
If your computer science department was trying to pick a poor language for the job, they did good job of it. It would be OK for a programming course for non-programmers just to show people what programming is and get them to the point where they could do some simple programming. It's not the kind of foundation you would build a comp sci education on.
 
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North of Dallas Texas
Prior to WW2 very few went on to college, the GI bill changed that, jobs that once required a HS completion started requiring a college degree. The higher education system in this country has in the last 60 years become a whore to federal grants and loans. Is there not a special office on each campus with the sole purpose of assisting students in applying for grants and loans. The system has created a federally funded pork barrel filled with professors that don't teach and instead write and publish books that no one cares to read.
 
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Agrestic, CA
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I just don't see how learning visual basic for computer science will help you program in Borland Builder or Microsoft C# in .net.
If your computer science department was trying to pick a poor language for the job, they did good job of it. It would be OK for a programming course for non-programmers just to show people what programming is and get them to the point where they could do some simple programming. It's not the kind of foundation you would build a comp sci education on.
Gosh, are they still teaching COBOL and Fortran these days in College? I had to take a year of COBOL in 1991! I think the last compiler made for that language was 1985. Any language that reserves the first (what was it 8?) characters for the CARD NUMBER, is anitiquated at best (even for 1991). Don't dog VB too much - it works really well for us non programmers. It get's me 95% of the way there and it gets me there quickly. Now if I could just get my programmer to comment his code better back on topic... I've got a friend that is has a history degree - he manages an Enterprise rent-a-car I've got a friend who has a bachelors in Philosophy, and in Music, and a masters in Philosophy - he is a cop. The president of my company has a Electrical Engineering degree but can't read a Balance Sheet (he is learning though )
 
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If everyone were to choose their field of study and ultimately their profession based solely on future monetary goals, then we'd see a lot of folks going off the deep end as miserable, unhappy, dysfunctional beings -- oh wait... You can't buy your happiness or satisfaction. An education is about more than the ability to make money. If you are good at what you are doing, the money will come to you -- no matter what you do. If you're not good and if you are not happy at what you're doing, you are doing the wrong thing. One topic keeps coming up. Let me quote Dan:
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What is needed is more education and less memory and regurgitation.
Yes, but... Before a person can learn on his own he needs to learn how to learn efficiently, and that includes a good dose of regurgitation and discipline. A solid knowledge base is necessary, and there is no time to learn basic skills and gain basic knowledge by discovering it all on your own. Imagine you'd have to "discover" algebra or the laws of thermodynamics on your own. In college or at university you ideally apply your newly found skills and knowledge to those fields from which you personally benefit the most. Not exactly coincidentally, those fields will be the ones you enjoy. Yet, most people choose their field like a prospector chooses a gold mine. 40 years later they're still digging, and even when they found what they once thought was so important, they'll be shoveling dirt and muttering unhappily all day. Now, take a look at the majority of high school and college grads. Or better don't, because what you find is not pretty. Which takes us back to the potty training days...
 
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7,256
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USA
No such thing as a "useless" college major. Just simple minded people and employers who view those majors as "useless".
 
From the College Confidential thread: "However, you have touched upon a related issue which is why is it that public schools that don't cater to the rich still often times insist on teaching unremunerative subjects? An Anthropology student from Harvard may get snapped up by Goldman Sachs, but an Anthropology student from SW Missouri State won't be. The latter school has to worry about providing marketable skills to its students, because its students most likely don't have rich parents who are going to hook them up, especially if they are going to use state tax money to do so. If rich people want to spend their own money on an unmarketable degree, that's their business. It's their money, they can do whatever they want. It's quite another matter when you're talking about spending state taxpayer money to subsidize unmarketable degrees. If you're going to use public funds on an educational program, you should ensure that those public funds are actually going to benefit the greater economy by providing marketable skills." No field of knowledge or academic curriculum is "worthless", and in discussions in other BITOG threads on this topic I have never said this. I have, however, used the term "useless" pertaining to value finding a job. The issue for most going to college is paying for it, and most use loans. If you or your parents are paying cash as you go, lucky you, then take whatever major you're interested in. But if you're going to borrow tens of thousands of dollars to go to college, which is what most people must do, then it's in your best interest to figure out what major might leave you in a better position to enable yourself to repay those loans. College loans generally cannot be discharged through bankruptcy, so whether you chose a good major or not, you still must repay—regardless of whether you're working for a prestigious law firm or for McDonald's. A few days ago in the paper, a news story pointed out that college loan default rates were up, by the way. The days when employers would hire someone with any college degree are largely over. Today most now want degrees in very specific majors, and some employers have commented about just how unprepared for work new college grads with liberal arts degrees (for example) are. Keep in mind that these majors are often so dumbed down at many universities that a student need not show any particular ability to write, comprehend, or reason. These universities cater to the "any degree will do" crowd who intend to spend as little effort as possible to get a bachelor's. Employers know better these days. The hidden issues that will have ramifications soon are these: (1) there are simply too many people with college degrees out there chasing too few jobs that will actually make use of their knowledge, and (2) many of the higher-paying jobs that required degrees are being outsourced overseas or filled by foreigners on H1-B visas who get paid less than American citizens in the same job. The latter include many engineering, design, scientific, and computer jobs, which were supposed to be the very jobs this country needed most. Perhaps we really should be asking why it's worth the bother for anyone to get any college degree, particularly if loans are involved. We should also ask why we and the financial aid people can't plan in some fashion for the number of graduates really needed in each major, and then limit how many get aid in each to discourage flooding the market with grads and reduce the number of people saddled with college loans. And we should ask just how many different universities we need offering particular majors. I suspect that we have far too many colleges and universities in the US awarding far too many degrees in almost every major. In that sense, every major could soon be "useless" in a declining job market as the US economy winds down like a broken alarm clock.
 
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I paid every dime for my university, except for the first semester, which my parents ponied up for. I don't work in the field my degree is in, but I'm glad I have it, and the knowledge I gained. I took the time to take a lot of classed in other areas too, which I don't regret.
 
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Camas, WA
"I just don't see how learning visual basic for computer science will help you program in Borland Builder or Microsoft C# in .net. Accounting and criminal justice classes are very job specific so I see how those would be applicable." VB applications are common around here, unfortunately even for multi-user 24/7 mission critical ones. The IT dept works on the big, critical, enterprise wide applications, so requests for other things never make it on the priority scale. B, lots of processes / departments run on a sea of spreadsheets, creating a big hole in the middle. What we see happening is that the sea of spresdsheets evolve into a relational database of some sort, put togther by some clever individual, and then some percentage of those evolve into critical applications. It's hard for those to compete with the mature organizations supporting the mature enterprise wide applications, so support groups grow to manage the small sea of other relational databses and applications, web based or otherwise. Remember that we still have the large sea of spreadsheets supporting stuff. It's a bit chaotic, very exciting once in awhile, but the applications have grown based upon the skill of the organization to develop and support them.
 

Al

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Elizabethtown, Pa
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For example, it can open up your mind; it can make you a better, more well-rounded person; it can be useful in the areas or your life that are not devoted to making money;
That's fine but when you are spending the bucks to send your kid to school...this one doesn't hold water (for me). This method is a recipe that allows the child to permantly use your home as free room and board. Fine for some..but wife3 and I just didn't have the empty nest syndrome.
 
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California
those majors may sound useless, but useless is relative - you mean useless as in making money. it's like the word "rich" being relative, most people consider rich meaning you have tons of money and material possessions while an extreme few consider "rich to be good health and a great family. they may be useless aconomically but they make for folks with a much, much wider understanding of people and life in general - I wouldn't say thats a bad thing, considering how many tens of millions of people run around with blinders on. "pappy told me this is how it is don't tell me no udder way"
 
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