Thursday, April 28, 2011

When Good Majors Turn Bad

Remember the days when we thought we could follow our dreams, choose a major that gave us pleasure, stretched our minds. We knew we could figure out something to do with it -- or else were certain that some employer would perceive our brilliance and hire us. We might not get rich, but we'd be doing something we liked.


Those days are gone. And it pains me that kids need to start thinking about their majors in high school. But in order to identify prospective colleges, it sure helps to know which would have strong departments in the likely major. Now, more and more, high school kids are already thinking about finding majors that will pay the bills.

Here's a list of what the Daily Beast calls the 20 Most Useless Degrees. It looks at how many jobs will be available to majors in English, theater, music, and so on, and what mid-level pay might be. It's not pretty. These are useless majors because the recipient of a degree in them may have few employment options.

But as we turn pragmatic (a justified decision, of course), just think about what we will lose. Schools will suffer even more -- not enough English teachers. Opportunities to hear music will shrink -- no musicians. Fewer horticulturists might mean fewer public gardens. And with fewer psychology majors, we may have fewer therapists. Just when we really need them.

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