The not so useless, “useless degrees”…

I was inspired to write this after speaking with my college mentor. We have to take a unique class at our university in which one part will be describing what we may plan to do with our degree. How will this degree help you succeed at life? What can we do within the field? How do you intend to make a living with this degree?

One of the problems with the way my own mind works, is that all the disciplines I am good at tend to be considered useless degrees by many people… Perhaps not useless to a small percentage in the field, but many that get these degrees aren’t necessarily learning a trait or specific skill set that is extremely useful in the workforce. Some degrees are pretty much only directly useful if you plan to be a college professor. Which doing a little simple math and thinking of the ratio of professors to students and the rate at which teachers retire, a very small percentage of students in these fields will become professors.

I can definitely see why some come to the conclusion that these degrees are useless to a large extent or that it is all a lost cause in a way. They can be especially damaging if you take out a large student loan and don’t really learn any specific skills that will lead to a high paying job. It is part of the big conundrum of the college cost debate… there is certainly a failure of the college/college expense system in this area. Do we just decide not to give out loans for certain degrees? Should certain degrees cost less to get? If we were to pay for free college as a country, would we want these degrees to be included? Are we really getting a good bang for our buck? Should the number of students accepted into the field be cut way down? If we cut the number down the cost per student would go up… Tough questions for sure…

I think I will give a crack at defending these degrees…

I shall open my argument by bringing up a rather controversial figure in history, Diogenes. He lived his life as a beggar for the most part, but is considered one of the most influential philosophers of all time. His work inspired many people, including kings, as his teachings were built upon over the years. Many philosophers were from rich families or had rich contributors, which of course others found other means. But when philosophers only come from one class of people, one area of the working world, or are only one type of person for that matter, we only get a very narrow vision of the world. Do we only want to teach future generations from only a few different worldviews and experiences?

I think I actually like the idea of many of these more social science minded people becoming cashiers, baristas, machine operators, factory workers, managers, bosses, journalist, small business owners, etc… These people will learn certain ways of thinking about and analyzing the world and use that to influence the world around them for their entire lives. They will write blogs, books and articles about their experiences. They will share knowledge with all the people they come in contact with… they will be able to give people advice and be good therapist friends to those that need it and can’t or won’t talk to anyone else. They will join historical societies and help preserve and write history. They will be voters… They will help build a rich culture and deeper understanding of our world. Maybe one will affect a few people and maybe one will affect millions or billions.

I don’t think everyone needs a job within that field in order for it to be effective and have a large impact on the world. There really isn’t any down side to being educated and being a bit more specialized in a field that speaks to you. The one downside might be some potentially enlarged egos from feeling a little overly smart from having advanced education.

I do think these fields are unique in that way though, that we shouldn’t necessarily just look at numbers like the number of people with a degree that now have jobs that don’t require that degree or a degree in general and think that is such a bad thing. That degree may prove useful to the world in many other ways…

I am going to school for sociology… I will be a sociologist my whole life regardless of what job I have after. I will live a life of purpose while sharing my thoughts and ideas from my own unique perspective. I will continue to learn and try to understand the world around me. I will try to make the world a better place… How effective I am, I will let history decide…

There is a butterfly effect to everything in life…

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