Why I Let My Daughter Get a ‘Useless’ College Degree

A new study from the Federal Reserve offers more evidence that my humanities-loving child will graduate with lots of debt and not so many job offers. And I'm O.K. with that.

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My oldest child, Emma, just returned to campus after a long holiday break to finish up her last semester of college.

But even before she has put the final period on her senior thesis, friends and family have begun bombarding me with one question: What is she going to do after graduation?

The job market is, after all, awfully tough. Just this month the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released a study showing that “recent graduates are increasingly working in low-wage jobs or working part-time,” if they’re lucky enough to find work at all.

The bright spot, according to the Fed analysis, is for students who majored in STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — areas in which recent graduates “have tended to do relatively well, even in today’s challenging labor market.” But Emma is a student of the much maligned humanities at a small liberal arts school. She’s an American Studies major with a focus on the politics and culture of food.

For quite a while, I tripped all over myself to describe how her field of study is so trendy right now that I’m not the least bit worried she will find a decent job.  “Emma’s concentration and interests could lead her in any number of directions,” I would tell people. “Writing for a food blog. Working at a nonprofit that improves health and nutrition for the urban poor. Managing social media for a food-related startup.”

Clearly, I wasn’t just explaining; I was overexplaining in an attempt to rationalize how Emma’s chosen path will turn into a steady paycheck. It’s as if her employment status were a referendum on the choices that my husband and I have made about her education. In retrospect, I’d hit a common pitfall: equating Emma’s personal success with my own success as a parent.

Yet the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve decided to be honest. “I’m not sure what Emma is going to do,” I now say. “But she’s gotten a great education and has really found her passion — and I know those things will serve her well over the course of her life.”

Don’t get me wrong. We are not immune to the high cost of college. Emma’s father and I have made sacrifices to give her and her brother the kind of education we value. There will be loans to pay when she graduates — and, yes, my husband and I will foot that bill. And of course, we will be thrilled if Emma finds work come May and doesn’t have to move back in with us.

But from the beginning, we never urged her to pick a college or a major with an eye on its expected return on investment, as more and more families are doing.

It has become practically quaint these days to think of institutions of higher learning as places that teach students to think critically and analytically, read widely and write well. More and more, schools are being measured by, among other things, the salaries of their recent graduates. The Obama Administration has only reinforced this bias by proposing to rank colleges based, in part, on how much money graduates earn.

In this climate, encouraging your kid to study the humanities — which face funding challenges, are scrambling for students and are under siege — can seem, at best, unwise or, at worst, reserved for elites unconcerned with earning a living. Only 8% of students now major in the humanities, down from a peak of more than 17% in 1967, according to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

But college is not vocational school. And promoting STEM subjects should not be society’s only answer to helping the next generation thrive in a competitive world.

In a recent article in The New Republic, Brown University’s president, Christina Paxson, made an impassioned argument in support of the humanities. “Our focus should not be only on training students about the skills needed immediately upon graduation,” she said. “The value of those skills will depreciate quickly. Instead, our aim is to invest in the long-term intellectual, creative and social capacity of human beings.”

For a while, I fell into a trap, made to feel as if Emma’s imminent employment (or lack thereof) is of immense importance.  I’ve come to realize that what really matters will be something that we may not be able to measure for quite a long time: Emma’s contribution to the world and how happy and fulfilled she is in it.

407 comments
bpuson
bpuson

Why hate on STEM majors? If anything, promoting these STEM programs are what we need more. Technology is ever-changing, and with this change, we can do big things. I bet your daughters liberal arts degree didn't land people on the moon. I thought so.

JoeSmith8
JoeSmith8

Very glad this is still alive.  I stumbled on the article while wondering if anyone else has had a problem with a kid that got a useless degree.  My daughter has stumbled around since her BA 2009 art/English at one of those cozy liberal arts schools ranked about #35.  Now in her first semester of grad school in a very hard to apply subject which I think she has no background in, she is suddenly thinking about...medical school.  She graduated after 4 years with 5k in debt but has since diddled around in another aimless program and is now up to 15k.  I'm footing the bill for room/board now, because I hate to see her get way over her head in debt and unable to make ends meet until she's 40, but more and more I'm feeling like a real chump.  No matter.  This is the end of the line for dad's money.


The problem may well be that my daughter just doesn't want to get a real job, and envisions her life as a series of educational experiences.  Cute.  And I take responsibility for being an enabler up to now.  But I also blame the lib arts school in part, for not requiring a more balanced degree plan that at least touched on something that matches a job description. The only people who get paid for simply knowing about esoteric things are academics.  Everyone else is paid to DO something.  Much less interesting on an intellectual level, doing, and certainly not necessarily something you can get "passionate" about.  But you get paid for doing things, which has its place in life, too.  


As for STEM, and college not being about a "vocational school" I'm not sure where this is coming from.  My son got a BS in computer sci and is doing amazingly well with it after only a year.  Job offer, one of three, was accepted in the fall of his last year at school.  It's okay if people want to discount and marginalize this kind of study as being "vocational" in nature, as opposed to lib arts which requires "critical thinking".  But the fact is that there is a lot of very hard work to be done learning how to do whatever it is my son knows how to do.   Oh yeah, there's that word "do" again.  Boring, right?  For $125k at the age of 23 I'd be good with boring too...except he's really into what he does.  


Final thought.  Lib arts needs to include a course in entrepreneurship, business development or at least sales, because utilizing such degrees will require more imaginative career development than defined curricula like STEM.  Good thing these kids who waste their college time studying arcane subjects in the humanities have a lot of creativity because they're really gonna need it.

bigwallace
bigwallace

I think 8% majoring in the  humanities is plenty, thats nearly 1 in 10 people. While this article may have some merit, ultimately people need to eat, and colleges should make sure that their applicants have at least some general abilities that will help them get a job. The problem I have with this defense of the Humanities and such is that I don't think someone needs to dedicate years learning things that won't get them a job. It really is an indulgence or "reserved for elites unconcerned with earning a living", because if you can't do something with it, just take a class or two or read a book. With a good degree you are able to teach yourself humanities in your free time.


If you can afford to throw away money then study whatever you want, but for most people a degree is an investment, perhaps the biggest single investment they will ever make, so it is irresponsible not to at least prepare students of difficult-to-market disciplines for the fact that their professional life may be difficult.


Speaking to your willingness to foot the bill for your childrens' loans. Consider how unique that situation is, and the unfortunate possibility that you could pass away tomorrow, leaving your child up a creek with only a humanities degree to paddle. I think it's naive to say that college is not a vocational school because that implies that the point of all education is to teach you things of little practical value. If that was true, then we would never teach children anything beyond basic Arithmetic. High school is meant to make people who were productive in society, in other countries the majority of high schools are vocational or college preparatory.


It's important that people have realistic expectations. You are okay with your daughter's degree, more power to you. The movement you lament is a result of graduates who didn't know what to expect when they graduated and they are unhappy. The ranking system Obama is promoting simply gives prospective students more information, and how can more information hurt the decision making process?


But in reality, all of these are the results of people who are stupid. I know of someone who is the VP of New Markets for a company everyone knows, but her degree is a BA of Ethnic Studies. She got her job after working in talent acquisition, which has nothing to do with her degree. So if you are a talented individual you can do great things despite the perceived uselessness of your degree. But most people are average so they won't become unique stories to be held up to promote degrees in the Humanities.


Lastly, what's with all the STEM hate? It's fair to say that STEM makes the world go around, and STEM is not just engineers. You can get a BA in Psychology from a Liberal Arts College and have a curriculum close to any humanities major. Alternatively you can get a BS in Psychology from a Science College and have a curriculum more akin to a pre-med student. With these degrees you still can learn humanities but have a good chance of getting a job. Also, your whole argument ignores the Masters degree, most programs don't have rules about what your undergrad major is, so if you stand by your Arts degree and later want to make money just get a Masters degree in something marketable.

JustMom
JustMom

I have also some doubts if modern students really need to have such skills and where they will be able to use them. Actually, we have to concentrate on such abilities learners will need after the graduation. There are some skills which can be used by any specialists. Anyway, we don’t have to make the study boring and show that students can use the internet not only for applying to http://britishessaywriter.co.uk/  but for creating some amazing things. I believe that if students have an interest they will continue the study with pleasure.

 

Xavier0231
Xavier0231

Meh. I got a decent job with a four year liberal arts degree (International Relations) with a decent salary. Getting a job has less to do with whether or not your degree is a liberal arts one and more to do with how that degree fits in your chosen career field. Example...to find work as an analyst in my field, they want a degree in international relations, regional studies, languages, or law in addition to work experience. Fortunately the job I had in the military allowed for years of relevant work experience to translate to civilian corporations (most military jobs, unfortunately, don't). As for the STEM fields, unfortunately, they're not really relevant to what I do. Challenge can vary, as you can't merely say whatever you want with a liberal arts education. You still have to cite sources, state facts, analyze, summarize, assess, etc. I don't know where the stereotype is coming from that a liberal arts education is easier. Some people suck at math, but write very well. Others are great at math, but can't write a coherent sentence.


On the other hand, you really have to have passion about what it is you want to do. My last assignment in the military, I was a recruiter (not by choice, I was ordered). My take home pay was $55,000 a year (including benefits, housing, everything). Which was fine, until I realized I was working 14 to 15 hour days on the average. I spent lots of money on weekly haircuts, uniform maintenance, food (I could never go home and could never take leave for 2.5 years), police tickets for applicants (something we were not supposed to do, but the enormous career-ending pressure to make mission every month made us do illegal things to meet this quota). I was miserable. My wife was even more miserable. I'm glad those days are over.


Bottom line...look at the career you want to do BEFORE you go to college, not the other way around. If you're spending tens of thousands of dollars to get a degree just for the sake of having a degree, you're doing it wrong.


Additionally...I know there is more to life than earning a mountain of cash. I'm definitely fine with making $45,000 a year if it means that I won't be miserable and doing a job I have no passion for making $10, $20, $30k more. Annual earnings must be balanced with quality of life and cost of living as well.

bmellis1984
bmellis1984

All I am going to say is, College is NOT an educational institution but rather it's currently an educational business.


What I mean is colleges currently exist to make money....  Funny thing is, the majority of classes that students take, they never use that knowledge.


The common day lie that people follow is, "I graduated High School and I'm going to college, isn't that what everyone does?"

Saywhatbish
Saywhatbish

I an not at all interested in Math or Science and honestly wish that I was. I wish I had the passion to be an engineer. I have never been very good at math since childhood. Maybe if I practiced more back then I could at least be an accountant. I love Sociology, Psychology, and History but the fact is that there are very few jobs in those fields. In today's society college is all about getting a job most people would not be there if it was just about gaining knowledge etc. Math and Science are the future simple as that.

jplagg
jplagg

Well, I wish my family didn't think my degree was "useless." I am a year away from finishing my B.S. in biology and my entire family constantly tells me how pointless it is. If they had it their way, I would've gone into boring government accounting like the rest of them. I'm doing well in school and I love everything I have done so far. It's just sad that my family has not said one supportive thing to me in these 3 years. They are just convinced STEM degrees are a waste of money.....

NishiHundan1
NishiHundan1

Listen, if you're stupid, it doesn't matter if you majored in STEM. If you're smart, you're not going to be hindered by your humanities degree. Quit looking to excuse your failures. You fail because you're 1) stupid, and 2) lazy

meganwarner95
meganwarner95

All I'm going to say is that it must be REALLY nice not to have to worry about money in college. I'm majoring in Engineering and working 20-30 hours a week, with an hour commute every day...and it really blows. Would absolutely love to major in Photography or Culinary Arts and live in an apartment or even the dorms but there's no way I can afford to do something like that were there is absolutely no job security or salary security. To pay for just the tuition of 15 credits/semester at my school (Michigan State University) I would need to work 41 hours a week for 51 weeks a year. Forget about books/car/phone/food/housing etc.




Gregtheegg
Gregtheegg

If you want to see why our country is going down the drain, then by all means read below. The fat cats stir up the masses and laugh at the sprawl.

AJ187
AJ187

I read through many of the comments and can only conclude that people are over opinionated a-holes with no good advice than blaming students for the circumstances that inhibit their success.  Whatever makes you feel better though.  No body wants to deal with the more serious problems facing higher education in this country because everyone is making out like bandits except for the college students.  

EileenSaunders
EileenSaunders

My arts degree (major economics) couldn't hold a candle to my husbands business/co-op degree.  One was theory while the other was practicality.  Arts degrees are a minimum eight year investment - Masters minimum to secure a position.  I've told my children consider your talents, how hard you want to work and the aspects of lifestyle you currently enjoy and/or dislike.  Their father is successful but absent a lot - Do you want to spend lots of time with the kids at home - then a strict nine to five is your answer and there's a ceiling to that salary.  I hear everyday about how we need trades people - carpenters, electricians, plumbers.  Its hard physical work that does not lend itself to the lifestyle that we define as successful (big house, big car) but it can pay off in family time and if you manage the money right.  Do you want to live in a city or a rural area?  Well nice neighborhoods in big cities cost money - STEM - is how it should be.  These are the conversations you need to have with your kids and not at sixteen.  While changing the world is a noble ambition it won't pay the mortgage.  Its almost as if we forget our children have to "live" on their own.  Passions are pursued on the weekend and during vacation - its a sad fact of life.  Grow up.  I'm encouraging my son soon to graduate high school to move away from us, stay with family and work a low paying job for a year or two while doing some college credits to keep the studying skills.  I've seen this work before.  A friend flunked out of college - worked as a security guard for a year and returned to college making the dean's list.  We all want to change the world but our kids own their own lives, successes and failures.  (When we ourselves succeed at work or after a lot of hard work in our jobs, with our hobbies or volunteer work - how many of us really think Mom and Dad deserve the credit.  When we fail do we think Mom and Dad are to blame.)  As parents our ownership has to stop at some point.  There are way too many thirty year olds with arts degrees, crappy jobs and over indulgent parents.  I often joke about these kids waiting for Mom and Dad to kick it so they can live on the proceeds - after reading articles like these its less and less funny. 

MarciaJordanGendraw
MarciaJordanGendraw

I am mad as hell right now at a high school daughter who is very smart and intelligent but wants my buy-in to major in a useless area.....drawing and art.  I think she is talented and has wonderful artistic ability. And before you ask, she has the grades and the abilities and the requirements to go into any STEM program.  I love the artistic side of her, but at the same time why not major in one of the STEM areas and incorporate your true love into that? It can be done, right?  You are damn right it can.  I won't spend my hard-earned money on that bull crap artsy-fartsy stuff!  We will probably revisit this subject 20 years from now about how I ruined her life.  And that is okay.  But you can best believe that I won't owe a penny of my money on a wasted piece of paper called a degree in art and design!.   

marisa.k.cherry
marisa.k.cherry

Most of the liberal arts courses that I took were fascinating but there main purpose was to give other liberal arts majors a job.   There is some truth behind the saying "Those who can, do. Those who cant, teach."

marisa.k.cherry
marisa.k.cherry

This is laughable. Of course you can get a useless degree when your parents will pay for it, pay for your loans, you have an educated background with a family who loves and supports you and will continue to financially support you long after you should have been able to do so yourself. For average Americans going $30,000+ (sometimes triple that) into debt had BETTER offer good returns on investment or they will be living on the street. I have varied interest and as I continue my education, I am pursuing more classes in philosophy and sociology BUT I know for a fact my practical degrees are why I can afford to send my kid to college, put food on the table and not live up to my neck in debt. Getting a job is a part of life and despite how we want to romanticize  college and critical thinking and all those wonderful things the main reason to go to college is to train you to be a part of the workforce. Unless you are beyond exceptional,  art, dance, American studies, art history,etc are not going to allow you to support yourself, or even allow you to pay for the education you received. You mention your daughters contribution to the world as being of most importance but how can you contribute to the world if you cannot even feed yourself?

Life would be sad without art and food bloggers and other luxuries but life would be disgusting, unsanitary, unproductive and we'd die a hell of a lot sooner without science, math, engineering and healthcare. 

LizLeyden
LizLeyden

A "practical" degree doesn't guarantee anything. I got a nursing degree in 2008, and it took 10 months, a cancelled job, and a 200-mile move to get my first job.

leamcandrews
leamcandrews

Your daughter has learned *how* to think, not *what* to think - a far better return on investment, in my opinion.

sfdrew83
sfdrew83

I think the humanities are worthwhile to study if they interest you, but let's face facts—they are a luxury! You, Mrs Hoder, are obviously articulate, educated, and a good writer. You and your husband have been successful enough to pay for your children to go to school, and even if you would rather not, continue to support them should they not find work. Most people do not have that luxury; they look at return on investment because that is the only way they can afford college. 


I think we to stop looking at this issue only in terms of monetary value, but we also need to realize that buying an education that doesn't pay for itself is just not practical for everybody. My wife went into the social sciences, and I have gone the STEM route. We are still paying her loans and thankfully mine were picked-up by the government (thank you G.I. Bill). We sit and worry about how to provide for our son, and what options will be available for our careers, and we didn't pick majors that were doomed to financial oblivion. You can appreciate the humanities, and study them, without getting a degree in them.

RunningWriting
RunningWriting

Some of the wealthiest people in the country have philosophy degrees.

kparsels
kparsels

Here is what most students don't do that causes later problems,  They need to diversify their interests.


I have always been an Artist since I first picked up a watercolor pencil, at the age of 8 and with my grandfathers guidance on drawing. but I also was interested in many other things, in 1976 I received a BFA in Painting and graphics, But as a minor I had education and was able to teach, I also used my education and ability to study to become a certified Electrician. later in the 90's  I became a Apple tech.   When I retired. I found that after working for 45 years, retirement wasn't for me, so I am now employed part time with the city in Parks and Recreation, The children are grown and gone, and are doing well because I instilled in them not to focus on one career but to always have an alternate plan.  The only thing I did tell them is if any of them  work for Government or take welfare I would disown the one that did. 


All men are indeed created equal, but what happens after that is up to you.

RaeBobby
RaeBobby

I'm a recent college grad, class of 2013. I graduated with a "useless" college degree--sociology major and English minor from a state university. However, I had a job offer the day after graduation. How? I interned 15 hours/week senior year first at a campaign office and then at a non-profit (while taking a full courseload and working 20 hours/week at a restaurant). I built up experience, padded my resume, and learned how to market myself and my skill set. I spent my time in between studying for finals practicing interview questions. 


The job offer was to work as a case manager at a not-for-profit. I've been there nine months now. I'm not bringing in the big bucks as a social worker, but I have a 9-5 with benefits including health insurance and paid time off. I am making enough to pay rent and pay back my student loans with my liberal arts degree!


Just wanted to share--in my opinion, pursuing your passion and believing in yourself is what's most important. Always keep your eyes open for opportunities like internships and networking. Talk to your professors. Be confident and ambitious.


I doubted myself for a while, but my mother, like the mother in this article was constantly asking: "How are you going to make money?" I did research and formulated a plan. Many college students aren't smart enough to do this. Many college students lack pragmatism and ambition. If I had majored in business or STEM, I would be miserable, I would hate my life. I pursued my passion and everything worked out, even in this tough economy. 


I truly believe in the value of a liberal arts education. Liberal arts teach us how to think critically, analyze, and write well. We view humanity and society through a more complex lens than those who don't study liberal arts. I truly believe that if you learn how to market yourself during an interview and have a liberal arts degree, you can convince an employer to see the value in you and explain exactly why you are capable of doing the job. It's like writing a persuasive essay.


And hey, if not, there's always grad school.



Brinovich
Brinovich

The sad thing is, even if you have a useful degree, times are tough. A useless degree is almost worse than no degree. 4 years spent learning a skill is actually a better idea. Spending 4 years learning things that have little or nothing to do with your job is worse than wasting time. If you want to get paid to think, then you need to go all the way to PhD. I say this as someone with two master's degrees - in fact, they're both in the 'useful' category. But what gets me jobs is my ability to write computer code. I learned all of that on the job. No one cares about my engineering, math, and computer science degrees. They never ask me about what I learned in school. I'm neither a mathematician nor a software engineer.  If I had instead spent time just learning the latest technology, I would be much better off.

jeannine.acevedo
jeannine.acevedo

Nothing tells a girl her highest aspirations are to be a wife that is not valued by society more than this mom's attitude. The girl cannot survive on her own so if she is lucky she can be a good mom and wife. 

Xavier0231
Xavier0231

*than doing a job I have no passion for. Tried to correct it but there's no edit option apparently.

trobert612t
trobert612t

You need to earn a math degree from a top college in the subject, unless you want to become a teacher.  I got a math degree  from a state university and could find nothing for employment unless I wanted to teach.  I didn't want to teach, so I become an administrative employee.

JoeSmith8
JoeSmith8

@MarciaJordanGendraw Stick to your plan.  Your daughter doesn't know what's up.  Agree to a BA only if there's a minor in a subject related to a job description.  Take it from someone who's been there.

LisaB83
LisaB83

@MarciaJordanGendraw  what I would love to know is what happens when everyone decides to major in the STEM fields? Where will all our creative thinkers be? What happens to art, culture, motion picture films, and everything that the liberal arts offer when everyone is scrambling towards that STEM degree? I mean seriously sit down and think about it. If every person who would have otherwise become a chef, been in theatre, film, televison, radio, design, graphic art, social workers . . . the list could go on. What then? STEM degree majors are very important but the more and more people with the degree the harder it will be for them to find work. Soon you will hear that the field is flooded and that jobs are hard to find. This happened back when Psychology majors were the up and coming thing and making great pay and landing jobs right out of college, granted this was back when my parents were in school, they projected many promising things for the that field for years to come and though for many it was quite lucrative it soon was flooded with majors in the field, eventually leading many to land regular office jobs that never utilized their degrees.


I am in college right now and getting ready to transfer to the University. I am not being funded by my parents since I am 31 and a full time mother of three who works part time in an office job and goes to school full time. I have long since wanted to major in creative writing but chose business finance instead because it would be more "lucrative". I dreaded classes, even though I am good at and have an exceptional GPA and am on the honor society. Regardless of all that I had no passion or love for business finance, and I work within the field now, and realized that I had to follow something I loved or else I would be forever unhappy with the choices I made. If I am going to pay for school I want to do something that makes me happy. In the end I decided to major in TV/Film and eventually get my Masters in Screenwriting. I may never write the screenplay for a major motion picture or emmy winning television show but I have lots of options with that degree. I have researched, painstakingly, my options and spoken with advisors an others who majored in that field and people would be surprised by the jobs you can get that you would never initially think of.


I hope my children grow up and do the things they love. My son is passionate about science and math so STEM will be for him. My oldest daughter has a love for the arts and I encourage her 100%. The greatest thing about this life we live in is the ability to make our own decisions, to do what we love, to find passion and be happy. My parents went with "something lucrative" and for my Dad it worked out very well but my Mom never found her niche and regrets never going after what she was passionate about. My Dad, though he went with a very standard and lucrative field, encouraged me to pursue my dreams and my writing because he said to me "Lisa, we live one life. That is all we get and you can't take your money to the grave. The things that will forever matter are how many times you laughed, the moments you share with your children, doing the things you love. Those choices, on your deathbed, will be the only thing that matters"

natashacirisano
natashacirisano


@MarciaJordanGendraw  I noticed that you wrote that your daughter wants a degree in "art AND DESIGN." I worked at a commercial gallery, and I understand your concerns about going into fine arts. Yes, the truth is that most people who are not exceptional, or not in the right place at the right time, struggle to find success in this area. Luckily, there are many creative careers in our day and age that are a little less risky than being a "pure artist," in which your daughter will still be able to exercise all of her skills and passions. I think you should reconsider your statements about design. You want your daughter to incorporate her artistic skills into a science pursuit, which is definitely possible, but it is also possible to bring the "practicality" and "functionality" of your daughters science skills to the arts in a way that is both fun AND profitable. Design is a blend of "hard" and "soft" skills. A graphic designer must think about how to make a product or idea appealing and marketable in a business-way, as well as attractive and interesting in an artistic sense. A product designer uses structural skills found in architecture and engineering along with aesthetic ones to create effective objects. And that's just a few of the many jobs in this industry! A degree in design is becoming increasingly valuable as many business, on the coattails of the Apple model, have seen the importance of good design in their products, advertising, and overall manifesto. 


To tell you the truth, I might be a lot like your daughter. I was the valedictorian of my high school, and went into college pre-med. I truly do have a passion for science, which led to me to the initial biology major. But, a straight-out STEM major wasn't the best combination of my art and science skills because it didn't have the correct balance of these areas to truly capitalize on both of the these skill sets. Instead, an “overdose” of science quickly burned me out, where an “underdose” of art failed to recharge my batteries to surmount new challenges. I tried the design school at my university because of its unique blend of my logical and artistic/emotional skills, where I excelled not only in the classroom, but in my design agency internships, where I was offered full-time positions at my companies on more than one occasion. Additionally, my good grades in high school math and science courses were not wasted – my university (USC) gave me a full scholarship and living stipend for all four years! Instead of flat-out rejecting your daughters desire to major in the arts, keep an open mind to alternative careers that will OPTIMIZE all of her skills in the best way possible. There are jobs available that you may not even be aware of at this point in time. Also, if she has the stellar grades you say she does, there are many scholarships available, so the pressure to immediately “return your investment” will not be as great. 


maddisser101
maddisser101

@MarciaJordanGendraw  "We will revisit this subject 20 years from now about how I ruined her life. 


And that is okay."


"okay."


"okay." 


"okay."


I had to re-read those sentences so many times because I was so appalled. I cannot believe you would be okay with ruining your daughters life all for some money. A degree is still a degree, and I know plenty of people that have earned marketable degrees, and plenty of people that have earned arts degrees, and both have struggled and succeeded. 


Do what you love and money will follow. Read every story of success and you will find that people followed what they believed in and had a passion for. The hardest part about college and growing up is not about finding what to major in, it is about finding your passion, because that is what will drive you to succeed in the long run. And if your daughter has a passion and a dream then she is already one step ahead of the game, and you should NOT be cutting her off so soon like that. 


I wish your daughter well and I hope she makes the right choice and does not take your critical pressure too seriously. 

elljazz
elljazz

@MarciaJordanGendraw  I agree with you.  I've read a lot of financial advisers who say parents shouldn't be paying for college anyway because they have their own retirements to think about.  If your daughter is talented and passionate, let her pay for it.  In fact, maybe she can get a degree in something substantial so that she can go back and pay for the arts degree!


AaronScoggin
AaronScoggin

@MarciaJordanGendraw  I feel very sorry for your daughter, and sincerely hope that you do some self-evaluation about why you are inclined to place so much pressure on her to do something that she clearly doesn't want to do. You will live to regret it.

AaronScoggin
AaronScoggin

@marisa.k.cherry  There is absolutely no truth to that statement. It's a statement made by those who have low self-esteem, and feel threatened by the fact that someone who majored in Sociology is just as smart as someone who majored in Mathematics.

bigwallace
bigwallace

@LizLeyden Nursing is an applied science, but it is not a "practical degree". Nursing is one of the fields most hurt by the recession, with nurses deferring or coming out of retirement in droves. As such, many hospitals have policies where they won't even let new nurses apply. This is a real problem in California where they have nursing schools irresponsibly churning out hundreds of graduates knowing full well the jobs aren't there. If your counselor warned you about job prospects, then your school did it's job, otherwise they did you a disservice.


That said, 10 months and a 200 mile move is pretty standard fare for a professional. Even construction workers are called Journeyman because it's expected that they may travel for work for some or most of their career. It'd be nice if every place in the country had jobs for everyone, but if it's reasonable to go thousands of miles to get a degree, then why not a similar distance to find a job.


There are no guarantees in life so don't forget your towel.


Okay, I have a physiology exam in 7 hours, I'm going to bed.

SallyNova
SallyNova

@RunningWriting And most, if not all, of those people either came from money or also have an MBA degree or something similar.

RunningWriting
RunningWriting

I guess the person who replied, deleted his comment. Yes, I meant what I said, philosophy degrees. That is, a major in philosophy.

mcmgardener
mcmgardener

@kparsels What? If they work for the Government you would disown them. But you work for Parks and Recreation with the city! You work for the Government you moron!

aquariaTX
aquariaTX

@kparsels  You'd disown a child who works for the government, which  YOU do.


What a moron of a hypocrite.

JLiu
JLiu

@RaeBobby  Not sure is joking. In the Western world, liberal arts is where critical thinking dies. Try questioning all their lovey-dovey beliefs, and see how your colleagues respond. Paying the rent and being a social worker is quite a lowly status in life, just so you know. 

Xavier0231
Xavier0231

@Brinovich  Wow, way to look past your own nose and overgeneralize degree programs. You seem to be under the impression that one cannot have a "skilled" job with a liberal arts degree. As a matter of fact, some jobs require one (not a PhD unless you want to be a manager) and pay well. Depends on the job you're trying to get, not what "field" the degree is in.

aquariaTX
aquariaTX

@Brinovich Bull. The useless degrees are only useless in the hands of useless morons like you.

bigwallace
bigwallace

@LisaB83 @MarciaJordanGendraw Creative people are creative people regardless of what you teach them. How many of the most famous musicians are music majors? Why is creativity purely the domain of the Arts?


Marcia is making a perfectly acceptable choice, if her daughter wants her money then it's reasonable that her degree meets her values. Alternatively, if she is smart enough she can get a minor or double major that would let her have her art and job prospects. Though "Art and Design" is a degree that answers the marketability issue, it is the thing that artists do to make some money by selling their artistic abilities to businesses.


Perhaps this is an opportunity for Marcia and her daughter to compromise. Otherwise, college students are adults so they can go into debt live poor if they aren't successful, just as someone with a STEM degree is free to do. You know your kids well, will they be happy if they end up broke under a mountain of debt as long as they are "finding their bliss", if so then encourage away. Some people can be broke their entire lives and be as happy as can be, but it is a fact that most people need stability and security, and that requires money.


Side note, as a sci-fi fan, I can assure you that a screen writer needs some of those STEM classes. Maybe then we'd stop getting just technically and scientifically inaccurate writing in TV and movies.

Jbai24
Jbai24

@JLiu @RaeBobby I commend @RaeBobbyfor her obvious hard work and effort through out college and now the professional world. Who are you @JLiu to tell a complete stranger that they have a "lowly status in life"? Aren't you forgetting what is actually important in life? Of all the people I know, the ones that went for that prestigious high-paying job are now becoming burnt out and making career changes to fields that are more about quality than quantity. You may want to use your own critical thinking skills to comprehend the meaning of "to each their own" and realize that making a difference is much more respectable than mere status.

Jbai24
Jbai24

@JLiu @RaeBobby I commend @RaeBobby for her obvious hard work and effort through out college and now the professional world. Who are you @JLiu to tell a complete stranger that they have a "lowly status in life"? Aren't you forgetting what is actually important in life? Of all the people I know, the ones that went for that prestigious high-paying job are now becoming burnt out and making career changes to fields that are more about quality than quantity. You may want to use your own critical thinking skills to comprehend the meaning of "to each their own" and realize that making a difference is much more respectable than mere status.

fyinfo
fyinfo

@JLiu @RaeBobby  Sad, sad, sad. So it's better to sit at home and wait for that prestigious job that makes you feel noticed and hopefully admired. I chose the one who finds ways to get employed over the slacker who is too good to work while degrading someone with gumption. Your way of thinking is what is destroying "the Western world", don't work until you get a prestegious job and bilk the system while you are waiting. I bet your colleagues are new to "the Western world" and are miserable to be around. Just so you know.