We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
In 1997, at the age of 27, I washed up at my parents’ house, done with school, and out of money. All I had to my name was and three humanities degrees, (B.A. Rhetoric, M.A. Literature, M.F.A Creative Writing) and a dog.
It was a dark time, both figuratively and literally because my parents had downsized since I’d first gone away for college and the only room for me in the new house was the basement. When I snapped the lights off at night, the blackness was total, roughly reflective of both my spirit and my prospects. In bed, I would wave my hand in front of my face, unable to make out even the faintest image. If you want to take that as a metaphor for my employment prospects, so be it.
B.A. Rhetoric, M.A. Literature, M.F.A Creative Writing
I didn't need any of these to practice rhetoric professionally, read literature or publish fiction. even his dog looks embarrassed.
the twerp was lucky his mom carried him around in her back pocket then lucked into a job that didn't need "B.A. Rhetoric, M.A. Literature, M.F.A Creative Writing" but minimal communications skills that anyone could pick up with a little motivation.
--haven't read the piece yet, but if your observation is correct, your implied conclusion is dead right, imho. If you want to be hired, care enough to create a correct public interface, for cryinoutloud, even if you have to research every word and sentence.
Should they study what they love, or should they be “practical?”
I drove fisheries research ships and over my time I ran into many people who would tell me their kid or granddaughter really wanted to study marine biology, often, marine mammals. I had the same answer, "That's great, but they should ask themselves one question first." "Do they like to eat?" I'd seen the nomad marine biologist arrive onboard and try to fatten up during the cruise so they could live through famine till their next connection hit. Now, it's the same question for the Liberal Arts grads.
I consider myself a pretty successful worker, and I have a B.A. in English and a master's degree is something completely nutty (so no need to spill it here).
1) Just having a college degree opens doors and is a requirement for many higher-paying 'white collar' jobs
2) All of my employment (with the exception of 6 years in the military) had to do with my degree.
3) Even my wacky M.A. impressed people and made it appear as if I was somehow smarter than a guy with just a B.A.
Honestly, I think the problem with those with liberal arts degrees is that once they get them, they assume they can just walk into a good paying job. That is not true. You have to be willing to take the secretarial job or data entry position to get your foot in the door somewhere. It is the combination of degree + work experience that employers want to see. Not just the degree.
So a liberal arts degree is not a useless thing...but it's not the only thing you need to start a career.
Just on another note, I have a very good friend from high school who got her MFA from the University of Iowa. She is a very successful business writer and author now. But she didn't write the Great American Novel...she found a niche in business writing and even worked with some very well-known political figures.
It's not a useless degree. It is the ambition and drive of the person with the degree that matters.
So, KJB, about your high school friend....did she go to Iowa to become a successful business writer? That's one of the best MFA programs in America, or it was at one time. I did not know they have a business writing course of study. Certainly I don't belittle her success and Robert Perzig was a successful tech manual writer before he did Zen and the Art of Motercycle Maintence. I only ask the question since you referenced ambition and drive and I assume you apply those to your friend.
"There is also very little evidence that college makes people more politically liberal." Just plain don't believe this. Liberals are very often self deluded people. MSNBC is not liberal either, so there.
My friend who went to Iowa was an incredibly gifted writer. She went there for her creative writing skills...I am sure hoping that she would be published someday. But once she graduated, she had to make a living, and found a way to do it through business writing.
I don't think the MFA was a waste of her time. I am sure she learned a lot in the program and it was impressive to some in the working world that she'd attended this program.
If people think MY master's degree is impressive (and I'm telling you, it is absolutely USELESS), then I can guarantee somebody, somewhere thought her MFA was impressive when they saw it on her resume.
Technical fields require intelligience, dedication and a kind of inborn native ability. Most jobs require hard work reasonable smarts and being in the right place at the right time. Except for the fact that a B.A. after your name might impress a future employer what really matters is you and not your degree. In a perfect world our K-12 would produce well rounded graduates who studied the arts read the classics and listened to and enjoyed classical music. But instead we spend the 12 plus years doing or faking assigned homework that looks like what we did the previous year and listening to the teacher go over the assigned homework and thus the student learns very little. No challenges, no joy no excitement and little real opportunity to learn. How is college different? The beer, the sex, the parties and the teachers don't really care if you learn or even show up so it is all up to you. I consider history, arts, music, philosophy, etc to be a hobby; a pleasure, something I do for myself. If I can use what I learned to better myself or someone else that is the frosting on the cake.