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Veteran Contributor

Re: Useless College Majors

Yeah, I learned a lot about global trade and how the big guys view the supply chain.  

 

Dad always joked while I was in school that he had the perfect logistics problems for me to figure out...how to get the tractor from one end of the field to the other.

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Yahoo, or 4 well-respected Universities- who do you believe?

The writer of the Yahoo article didnt research his article very well.  Here is a pretty solid refutation:

 

http://www.agri-pulse.com/Iowa_state_responds_ag_useless_major_01252012.asp

 

These professors ceratinly give him an "F"!  Their references are more complete, and their explanations are more thorough and logical than the Yahoo reporter's.  Gosh, we can't take every new article on the Yahoo front page at face value- imagine that! 

 

 It does make you wonder about how accurate and thoroughly researched some of the other Yahoo "news" articles might be.  Food for thought.  And tell Young Sam (or Sally) not to run change their major.

 

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Honored Advisor

Re: Useless College Majors

I heard some news blurbs about htis "story' somewhere in the past week or so.  In any economy,. certain jobs are winners, and others are losers.  Thjere are technological advances and paradigm shifts that make soemeof our training just plain obsolete, in any given age and place.   

 

There is some expectation that almsot anyone may deem theri own degree "useless" at some point in life.  I have a bachelor's in education, and much of master's in educational administration and supervision.  (In addition, I have studied to some extent in nursing, residential design and building codes, and historic preservation technology...which I currently enjoy in the form of weeknd workshops.) 

 

I once thought of my formal education after high school as wasted; then, I realized how much I had learned about interpersonal cooperation, behavior modification and even business administration, all in the educational field, but it translated to life in general. 

 

Residential design taught me to read and draft blueprints, spec out materials, and esepcially how to handle scoping and sequencing of a building project...which translates to any project, really.  This can translate to a lot of savings in labor costs, and your own energy. 

 

The HTP program has given me a great appreciation for embedded energy in a structure, and how to assess a lot about a building's potential re-use.  It's also taught me how much certifications like "Energy Star' are political hype, to a large degree. 

 

There are a lot of abuses of both people's hopes and dreams,. and the student financial system, which means taxpayer's money.  For-profit schools are very guilty of this scamming. 

 

The inability to repay student loans - which cannot be discharged in bankruptcy - is another cloud on our economy's horizon.  Then, too, how anyone can expect to repay a six-figure loan debt on what some of the jobs they are training for will pay, even if they can find one that fits their ideal, is illogical. 

 

I have said that the pigs don't care how educated I am...and this is quite true.  Having a broader background, no matter what you do in life, is a plus, not a minus.  Very few people end up doing what they thought they wanted to do at 18-20 years of age, when a college major is usually selected,  anyway. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Useless College Majors

I don't understand how they listed agriculture when they listed how many millions of positions that agricultural management includes in the US.  And food is pretty much assured to be one industry that has to continue on some level regardless of the overall economy.  Besides, agriculture is hopping right now.  Who wrote the article and what was their agenda?  Pretty blatant agenda to me.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Useless College Majors

Stop requiring college degrees
Thiel Foundation: Silicon Valley needs to stop requiring college degrees

December 29, 2011 | James O’Neill

Everybody knows that if you’re smart and ambitious, you attend college. Why? Tradition. But if we’re ambitious about creating a better twenty-first century, should we follow traditions from the nineteenth?

In the past hundred years, technology entrepreneurs have given us cars, jets, vaccines, cell phones and computers. The college industry, meanwhile, has made remarkable innovations in raising prices and offering novel forms of debt.

College tuition has gone up 500 percent in the last 30 years, helping all of us speed towards bankruptcy at an even faster rate than our health care system. But while medicine has made at least some quality improvements since the early 1980s, higher education is all price and no product.

If anything, actual learning at college campuses is in decline. Today’s students report spending 75 percent of their time socializing and sleeping, leaving a scant six hours per day to attend class, study and work, according to a recent study of more than 2,300 undergrads. It’s not clear why kids should have to pay to learn how to sleep and socialize. Most people get pretty good at doing both for free.

After two years in school, the same study found that 45 percent of college students showed no significant gains in learning, and after four years, 36 percent showed almost no change in skills. More students than ever are taking six years to graduate, but no matter how many years they haunt the campus, they’re not learning anything new. Universities take in more money than ever before while failing to deliver results.

Even at schools that go out of their way to attract top talent, there’s no guarantee that a student will actually be mentored by someone with a great mind. She’s much more likely to sit in a classroom led by a low-paid teaching assistant while the famous professor plays academic politics to win government grants.

Employers make the problem worse by requiring bachelor’s degrees when hiring, but this problem can be solved with the stroke of a pen. A degree means a job candidate went to college. But what happens in college stays in college. When a company needs specific skills, knowledge, or talents, it’s better off asking for those directly. Requiring a BA guarantees nothing, and may keep out some of the most creative minds. If we replace our degree fixation with an emphasis on skills, colleges can stop sleepwalking through their stagnant four-year (and five-year and six-year) rituals and start focusing on dynamic ways to transmit skills and knowledge for actual careers.

Some employers will be slow to change, but it’s already true that you don’t need a degree to start a company, and you don’t need a degree to create a new technology that will change the world for the better. Just ask Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or David Karp.

That’s why we started the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship. The Thiel Fellows aren’t going to college. Instead they’re designing their own projects, getting guidance from our Silicon Valley mentoring network, and learning for themselves how to do research and start companies. And instead of charging six figures, we’re giving each fellow $100,000 to rescue them from creativity-killing debt.

We’re not fixated on academic achievement. Some of our fellows ace high school, and some never fit well with traditional schooling at all. We probe how they think, what motivates them, and whether they’re truly driven to change the world. These qualities are much more powerful than a stellar GPA.

Encouraging people to skip college is controversial, but it’s a controversy that’s long overdue, and our nation’s future is at stake. Employers need to get more creative about hiring new talent instead of using meaningless proxies like BAs. We challenge students everywhere to think carefully about the costs, benefits, and risks of all their options, including college. And we challenge teens who want to change the world to apply to join us as Thiel Fellows. The future can’t wait forever.
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

James O’Neill runs the Thiel Foundation, which promotes science and liberty across the globe and opposes violence in all its forms. He co-founded and oversees the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship, which is accepting applications through Dec 31. He also serves as a managing director of Clarium. Previously, he was the principal associate deputy secretary of health and human services. He lives in Mill Valley with his wife, Lien, and their three children.
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Honored Advisor

Re: Useless College Majors

For several years I have considered student loans equivilant to the "university intelligence test".

At least in the midwest---------In at least 10-12 years of full and/or part time employment a university degree can be attained and paid for without dads or Uncle Sam's money. 

The young folks who are finishing in 4-6 years carrying a big debt are not thinking.

When our two were at that age-----One of those things that got me upset most was listening to admissions personel promote student loans.  Some of our best and worst advise came from private schools.  But most all promoted debt too much.

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Advisor

Re: Useless College Majors

English majors are in demand. Companies need people that can clearly express themselves verbally and in writing.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Useless College Majors

sorry \ ,   it is obvious isn't it.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Useless College Majors

The myth machine that has people believing that a college degree equals an automatic entry into a certain level of success as an adult has done its job well.  Actual best bet today, and for some time now, I think, is probably training in a tech program, perhaps no more costly than a community college associate's degree. 

 

A smart-enough kid can get an associate's with one extra year of high school in our state, since they start in what is termed 'Early College' here now.  That program is totally free to the family.  Most of that emphasis will be along academic, rather than vo-tech lines, which is a shame.  It still belies the prejudice towards academia over other pursuits. 

 

I think that a student's absolute best return would be to go and get a degree in residential construction, and use that to build a modest home of their own, while also turning the skills to employment. When you turn the cost of a decent  abode in half, by utilizing your own labor, that gives you yet another leg up in life. 

 

All three of our kids are certainly intelligent enough to have gone to college, and all of them did, to some point that worked for them.  The daughter here working the hog farm got some environmental science background, the son got a basic builder's skillset (which he has since braodened and refined), and the baby girl got her four-year degree at a very well-reputed private school. 

 

Their income plays out in precise inverse order to their formal education investment...so, go figure.  I know that such anecdotal evidence is not necessarily compelling, but the youngest one could do the job she's got without a day of post-HS training. 

 

College in so many places in America had becoem one long Bacchanal.  Parents - and more often, taxpayers - are footing the bill for a four-year stay at Animal House.  Colleges market the loans because there is no other way for them to keep swimming forward, perpetuating the Great White Lie.   

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Veteran Advisor

Re: Useless College Majors

My wife worked with a friend she graduated HS with.  The wife went to community college, and worked part time, to get her Associates degree, and graduated with about $500 total debt.  Her friend went to a regular college for her degree, and they wound up working side-by-side, in the same building, for witin 10 cents an hour of each other (due to seniority, my wife always got a hair more, because she started working there sooner.  When we got our first baby, she was able to quit.  Not so much because I was making all that much, but because between us, we have very little debt.  Her friend wishes she could quit a few years, to be with her kids, but said they 'can't afford it', because of all the monthly payments they have to make.  Her school debt, at the time of marrriage, was more than her husband's debt on a small farm.  From the looks of things, we will be debt free at least 5 years sooner (barring something more happening), and my wife will have spent 10 years with our kids, just working her home-based business, in her spare time.  She is timing her business growth, with the kids starting school and such, so we have spent less than $100 in day care, total, for our 5 year old, and 3 year old, together.