Monday 21 November 2011

Lots of US students doing useless degrees

One reason the Occupy Wall Street swampies are so angry is the amount of student debt many of them have racked up, which they now can't pay off because they can't get the sort of job they thought they'd get when they started uni.

Carpe Diem has a great table showing the sorts of degrees that were awarded in the US in 2009.

Out of 1.7 million graduating students:

  • 21,000 studied "family and consumer sciences" (whatever the hell that is)
  • 94,000 studied psychology (is there really a demand for so many psych graduates?)
  • 9,000 did "area, ethnic, cultural and gender studies" - good luck to any of them getting a job
  • 83,000 studied "communication and communication technologies", which is probably a new term for media studies with the addition of Twatter
  • 89,000 did "visual and performing arts" - there might be one John Malkovic in there. The other 88,999 will all be serving our coffees.
  • 31,000 did "parks, recreation, leisure and fitness studies" - I'm stuck for comment here
  • 500,000 did what I would term "fairly useful" degrees - health, education, law (yes, I almost choked on that one) English language and literature, liberal arts, maths, architecture, science, IT and engineering. 
In other words, 500,000 graduated with a good chance of employment and paying off the debt they piled up during their studies.

1.2 million graduated with a worthless fly swatter.

I wouldn't mind if our expanded higher education system was producing more nurses, better teachers and well trained engineers, scientists, agronomists, geologists and doctors; plus a good wodge of classically educated liberals arts types.

Instead, it's pretty clear that the explosive growth in higher education has mainly been in largely worthless fields. The sooner we close half the faculties, the better.


Steve at the Pub said...

" (yes, I almost choked on that one)..."

I've always got quite a laugh from law being considered one of the "pure" degrees!

Anonymous said...

An unkind part of me would like to ask those who studied family and consumer sciences and area, ethnic, cultural and gender studies exactly what jobs it is they think they are going to get.

The realistic part of me suspects that such waffly areas of study are a natural result of the decades-long self-esteem movement which doesn't allow people to be told they simply aren't suited for tertiary studies.