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"Useless Degrees"

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by HM03, Mar 12, 2016.

  1. HM03

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    I hope this doesn't end up going too deep :lol:

    I feel certain degrees are really well respected. And for other degrees, people regard them as a joke and useless.

    So. Do you think there is such thing as a useless degree?

    If you're working towards a degree that people view as a joke, what do you do to reassure yourself you're making the right decision?

    If you've got a such a degree, were you able to find a decent job in your field? Any regrets about not going into something more respectable and profitable?

    I typed this out quickly, so hopefully I didn't word anything too poorly :slight_smile:
     
  2. Libertino

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    *raises hand*

    I have a B.A. in Underwater Basket-Weaving. :grin:

    Just kidding, but I might as well, considering that I currently have a degree in English and in Philosophy, two subjects variously regarded as "jokes" (Philosophy may be the "jokiest" degree there is. Apparently all you can do with a philosophy degree is sit around, think, and become homeless). :rolle:

    I wouldn't have majored in either of these subjects if I had considered it hopeless to find a job with them. Currently I work in a library and am attending grad school in pursuit of my PhD. I hope some day to teach at a good private school and eventually become a professor (I have worked as a teacher a bit already and will be getting back into it this year). I always knew that I would want a job in education and academia, which is why I majored in these subjects. I studied (and am studying) what I love and am working toward a job that I know I will love.

    I don't feel the need to constantly justify why I don't have a science or business degree.
     
    #2 Libertino, Mar 12, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2016
  3. Matto_Corvo

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    I want to get major in creative writing with a minor in theater or film (if not both). But I know people see these as useless degrees so I want to try for something more practical as well.

    Really I have no idea what to do because I'm torn between doing things I love and doing the logical things.
     
  4. Amal

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    I hold a degree in Pre-Islamic Arabic poetry, poetics and prosody. Totally NOT useless, and absolutely fascinating. Yet I will never earn a living with it outside University walls :slight_smile:

    Do I think it's a waste of my time? No. I also have a bachelor in IT.
    My poetry however is far more important to me, and if I had to choose, I'd do it all over again.
     
    #4 Amal, Mar 12, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2016
  5. AKTodd

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    When people say a degree is 'useless', what they really mean (more often than not) is that you can't make a lot of money with it or that there is not a direct and obvious path to making a lot of money (or at least getting a specific and obvious job) with it.

    This is a vast oversimplification of a much more complex reality.

    I have a BA in English, with a minor in Political Science. While I haven't uses the PoliSci bit for anything other than my own enjoyment, my 'useless' English degree has allowed me to work for three different Fortune 500 companies. In all three cases, the first thing it did was get my foot in the door. Often companies don't care about what your degree is in, but rather than you have one, which is seen as demonstrating a certain set of qualities that they find desirable. Even in more 'straightforward' degrees like engineering, I've been told (by engineers and engineering majors) that this is also pretty much the case and that you will spend a lot of your initial time at a company just learning the actual job they want you to do, which may or may not have much connection with what you learned in getting your degree.

    In two cases, my degree directly pertained to my job, particularly the writing part. I basically write training materials and design training classes for a living, which mainly means taking complex concepts, processes, or procedures and turning them into something that can be taught and comprehended in an organized way. A lot of people like to think that 'anyone' can do that - they are demonstrably wrong as I have spent a significant amount of my time fixing the mess they've made when trying to do it themselves, sometimes after they've finally hit the wall of pain and come to my department begging us to 'please just fix it'. In some cases, the mess they've made in trying to create training on their own has contributed to putting multi-million dollar contracts at risk. So, it's not like what we're doing is just a luxury that can be dispensed with at any time.

    You may be fantastically brilliant at science, math, or business - but if you can't communicate effectively, you and your employer are going to have a hard time doing much with that brilliance. Which is where people who can write and communicate come in.

    I'd also suggest that when people say that a degree is 'useless' they are often suffering from a failure of imagination or lack of information. I didn't know my field existed when I graduated and kind of fell into it only years later. But now that I know about it, I see it being used all over the place. Much the same can apply in other areas.

    BTW - creative writing with a minor in theater or film has 'screenwriter/scriptwriter for TV or movies' written all over it. Last I checked, those are two industries with revenues in the billions of dollars.

    Do what you love, and the money will follow.:thumbsup:

    Todd:slight_smile:
     
  6. WyldStyle

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    I'm going for a BA in Geography. I would say that Geography is far from being a useless degree, but most people don't really know what use a Geography degree can be. This is mostly because there's no solid, simple answer as to what a geographer does. An engineer builds things, a nurse works in the medical field, a business major works for a business, etc etc.

    When people think geography (at least in America) they tend to associate it with the study and the memorization of maps. But while knowing where in the world everything is is great, being able to point to the town with the longest name (llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch) on a map isn't really going to land you a job. Therefore, some people may see Geography as a "useless" degree.

    However that's far from true. Geography is a far reaching subject that touches on many different aspects of life. Meteorology? That's Geography. Urban Planning? Geography. Cartographers? Geography. My professor told me that every major government institution has a geographer working for them, as well as places like NASA, and other large businesses.

    So, I guess what can be said from this is, while there are some majors that can be considered "useless" by some, sometimes that person just needs to take a deeper look into the field to realize just how useful it may be.
     
  7. Matto_Corvo

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    It maybe be a billion dollar industry but I'd be a fool to think that it is easy to break into that industry. Takes years to gain the skill level that reputation to have a script sell for big. But it is still something I'd want to try.
     
  8. PrivateUser

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    Theoretically my Philosophy degree is useless unless I go into teaching or sit at home, check out my belly button and write books about it. However, I did it because I wanted to and because it interested me and not for any material gain.
     
  9. sam the man

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    It depends. Whether it's "useless" is, I guess, relative to you.

    If your goal is to make money and land a guaranteed job, then yes, things like philosophy aren't of the best use. If your goal, however, is to use the time at university to pursue something you have a passion for, then something you find pretty grinding (finance, say) won't have much value. Basically it depends on what you're there for. Most people want something that they like but which makes some level of sense in relation to getting a job, so usually they'll want to find a happy medium.
     
  10. Radioactive Bi

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    Yes, I definitely think some degrees are useless. Although the subject "may" be interesting in it's own tight, a full degree is often unnecessary. There are also some degrees which I think are completely throw away degrees such as gender studies or things like divinity as well as things that are more real like beach management (yes, there really is a degree in that).

    Happy days :slight_smile:
     
  11. biAnnika

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    I think that if you see your degree as a joke, then it is; otherwise, no degree is a joke.

    It is naïve and self-defeating to tell yourself that you can't get a job with a degree in Philosophy or English. You just won't find ads in the newspaper looking for philosophers. Guess what? You don't find ads in the paper looking for mathematicians either! But *everyone* is looking for mathematicians, because they can think critically, analytically, and quantitatively...they just don't *realize* they want a mathematician.

    Similarly, *lots* of people want people with the critical analysis, argument, and writing/language skills of a Philosophy and English major...but they don't know to ask/look for such a person.

    There are very few majors that are directly linked with jobs (e.g., computer science, education, and social work are pretty straight forward, albeit in very different ways and different parts of the payscale). The rest of us have to work at *marketing* ourselves effectively...putting together a resume and cover letting that non-defensively *sells* the skills we have, and educates potential employers about what we have to offer.

    If you define a degree as useful if you can hand it to someone and they'll give you a job, then you've probably wasted your money on getting it.

    ---------- Post added 13th Mar 2016 at 11:27 AM ----------

    Aye, exactly this. If you love it and do it really well, there'll be someone willing to pay you to use those skills on their behalf, to apply it to their purposes.

    Conversely...if you do what you hate, because there is money theoretically attached to the degree, you'll end up unhappy *if* employed...and likely eventually unemployed.
     
  12. Libertino

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    Excellent words of wisdom, biAnnika.

    Sometimes I feel that I'm not really a benefit to a discussion like this, since as someone with an English and Philosophy degree, I knew from the get-go that I'd be going into academia and many people feel that this is the inevitable path. It was the path for me, but it's not the inevitable one. I have a friend who works for a tech start-up and he majored in Art History. It just depends on where you start and what you can contribute. Show the employer what you're capable of--often the type of degree you have isn't so relevant unless you are applying for a job that directly corresponds to that degree (i.e. might be hard to become a psychologist without a degree in psychology).
     
  13. HM03

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    Ah! I never really of that before. Wise words, as are Todd's :slight_smile:
     
    #13 HM03, Mar 13, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2016
  14. Ashley2103

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  15. Euler

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    How is see all the different degrees in the world is this. There are degrees that are in high demand and then degrees that are in low demand. If 50% of the university students got a degree in medicine then that degree would be considered pretty "useless" as getting a job with it would be difficult.

    Having said that I do think there are a few university degrees that I consider utterly unscientific and in very low demand which that make them "useless" in my book. Gender studies is the number one followed by all kinds of queer studies and some obscure sociology degrees.
     
  16. Matto_Corvo

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    Just posting again
    But

    The way insee it. I was always told to get a degree that would get me into a medical feild. My family's line if thinking is that there will always be need for medical staff (ex: doctors, x-ray technicians, nurses, etc) so it is staff to say there will always be a job opening.

    But, and I tried to tell then this before, everyone these days are going into the medical field. That means there are many people who are interviewing that one opening.
    And there are many fields that this could apply for.

    So getting a "useful" degree does not guarantee that a job will be found. And if it is a degree you only did for the money you will be both rather unhappy with your four+ years of college, but also unemployed.
     
  17. AKTodd

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    True. But bear in mind that there is a lot more to TV and film than the big studios. All those shows on cable, from Discovery Channnel to SyFy and whatnot. Those all have scripts and someone has to write them. Many of those shows are produced by small, independent studios that sell them to the cable stations.

    There's also theater, entertainment venues that have an acting element like Las Vegas or cruise ships, etc.

    My husband did some work with one of those small studios and one of his former students (with a tech theater degree) does lighting design for cruise ships and has worked on and off Broadway. One of my old bosses has his degree in fine arts or the like. And he did computer graphics for our training department as well as overseeing the Instructional Designers (of which I was one).

    Not all of these are English degrees but the same principle applies. Think outside the box:slight_smile:

    Todd
     
  18. Kasey

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    Know what degrees really mean? That you can learn.

    That's what employers look for. Some of the most successful people had nothing to do with their actual degree in life. Hell some people who are the richest in the world don't hold degrees.
     
  19. Aerin

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    I think that regardless of the degree you get, employers will see that you had the discipline and drive to get one. That's never useless.
    Obviously certain degrees will get you a job faster than others. A nursing degree is really all you need to get hired as a nurse. For others, while having a degree is helpful, its ultimately up to you to start out somewhere, and then its the connections you make along the way that really help decide where your career is going.

    ---------- Post added 13th Mar 2016 at 05:18 PM ----------

    I think that regardless of the degree you get, employers will see that you had the discipline and drive to get one. That's never useless.
    Obviously certain degrees will get you a job faster than others. A nursing degree is really all you need to get hired as a nurse. For others, while having a degree is helpful, its ultimately up to you to start out somewhere, and then its the connections you make along the way that really help decide where your career is going.
     
  20. Bing

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    There is a famous Chinese saying“子非鱼,焉知鱼之乐”, which means "you are not a fish, how could you know whether they are happy or not". It's true with almost everything.
    Sometimes people give judgement on sth so quickly that they don't even have time to know it. For me, some degree may be not so profitable, but no degree is useless.