Showing posts with label declining interest in Humanities and Liberal Arts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label declining interest in Humanities and Liberal Arts. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

God bless people who work at useful jobs

Millions of Americans don’t work. Some are unemployed and looking for work; others simply refuse to look for a job. In fact,12 percent of men in their prime working years aren't in the workforce and aren't looking for work. Millions of healthy men are living off relatives, surviving on government benefits, or working side hustles in the underground economy and not paying taxes.

Millions more have jobs but are not doing anything useful. I spent 25 years in higher education, and I can tell you that many professors have retired on the job. These professors don’t do research, teach their classes poorly, and don’t show up at their offices except for mandatory office hours (maybe six hours a week). Hardly any university schedules classes on Friday, which means that a large percentage of university faculty members are working four-day weeks.

All across the national economy, we see Americans doing nothing more than pushing paper around. People in the advertising game are blitzing us with inane commercials for products we don't want or don't need. The gaming industry is promoting gambling, which is a pernicious and addictive pastime,

Thankfully, millions of Americans are working hard at jobs that need to be done. I suffered a stroke last month in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I dialed 911, and six EMS professionals showed up at my location within five minutes, despite the fact I had given them an incorrect address. I was able to unlock the front door even though I was partially paralyzed, but the 911 dispatcher assured me that my rescuers were willing and able to break down the door to get to me,

Those people work hard and are well-trained. My EMS team got me to a hospital in time for me to receive a time-sensitive drug that limited the long-term damage from my stroke.

Now I am in rehab, working with a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, and a speech therapist. All my therapists are highly skilled young women who are enthusiastic about their jobs and full of energy. They assure me I will make a full recovery and walk again.

Our economy is changing drastically, and many college students are taking out loans to get an education that will not lead to a good job. A bachelor's degree in the humanities, liberal arts, or social sciences is a dead-end degree. A young person taking out student loans to get a degree in these soft disciplines may be committing financial suicide.

Most young people want a satisfying career in a field that pays well. Most of them seek work that is useful and meaningful. Today, smart young people don’t go to college to get a liberal arts degree. Instead, they choose majors that offer a clear path to a well-paying job and a satisfying career. 

I am grateful that some of these intelligent young people are choosing to work as first responders and healthcare workers. Our society needs them. I'm not sure it needs humanities professors.

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."