Showing posts with label choosing a college major. Show all posts
Showing posts with label choosing a college major. Show all posts

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Detour! Don't Choose a College Major That Won't Help You Get a Good Job

As Junior Brown reminded us in Detour, a class Country song, we can avoid a lot of trouble if we heed the warning signs all around us. "Oh, these bitter things I find," Brown sang. "Should have read that detour sign."

And this brings me to the topic of choosing a college major. Many 18-year-olds, maybe most, have only a foggy idea about what they want to do for a living. 

 In the service of transparency (don't you love that word?), I admit to switching majors twice while in college. I finally settled on a dismal major in sociology--sometimes described as the painful enumeration of the obvious. I learned nothing of any value.

So--how do you choose a major when you go to college? 

First, consider what you are good at and pay attention to what friends and mentors tell you about your skills and dispositions. When I was a first-year student, my freshman English instructor, a reporter at the local newspaper, told me I was a good technical writer, and she read one of my essays to my entire class.

I should have paid more attention to her compliment. It did not occur to me that I should focus on a career that would allow me to use my writing skills.  I should have switched my major to journalism. It wasn't until I got to law school many years later that I discovered that my aptitude for technical writing was valuable and could help me earn my living.

Second,  take note of the academic programs that are being shut down by the universities. For example, Youngstown State University announced this week that it is closing 26 academic programs. Programs being axed include Art History, Music History, Italian, Religious Studies, and Dance Management.

YSU said that only 87 students would be affected. In other words, on average, these 26 programs had only 3.3 students.  I wonder how many Youngstown students were majoring in Dance Management.

All over the United States, colleges and universities are closing academic offerings.  Many majors that are being shit-canned (a sociology term I learned in college) are in the humanities and social sciences. Literature, philosophy, anthropology, art history, and sociology are being thrown under the academic bus.  You should probably not devote your college years to taking classes in these fields. 

I regret having to give this advice. Our lives are enriched by an understanding of history and an appreciation for literature and culture. At the very least, every American should have a basic grasp of the causes of World War II and the catastrophe it unleashed all over the world. If it were up to me, no one could get a college degree without reading William Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

Unfortunately, a college education has become so expensive that the primary consideration in choosing a major should be to get a degree that leads to a good job. Thus, I think it would be best for young people to cultivate an appreciation for history and literature on their own time.

Junior Brown: "Should have read that detour sign."