Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Myth of the Bachelor Degree

"A degree in economics doesn't really prepare you to understand the economy very well."

These words of wisdom, according to an AP story, come from
Josh Donahue, "23, who went on food stamps two weeks after leaving Oregon State University with an economics degree that he hoped to use for a job as a financial analyst. He's living with his aunt and uncle in Grants Pass, Ore., and looking for even a menial job."

Josh is the new poster boy for the massive inefficiency and inadequacy of America's K-16 education system. Clearly, no one in the two decades of Josh's life had any serious talks with him about who he is, what he wants, what he's good at, what a liberal education means, or how liberal arts degrees translate (or don't) into marketable skills. Josh came of age during an expanding economy based on false expectations of wealth, and he figured he'd study econ and then go make a killing selling stocks to middles class Roth IRA holders on his way to becoming the next Warren Buffett. Time for a reality check.

Josh could have majored in accounting or finance or business or engineering - but it seems that people who major in economics as a bachelor degree (with no intention of a masters or Ph.D to teach) simply couldn't get into business or accounting schools. So, they majored in - and probably forked over or borrowed $20,000 to $40,000 for - what has become a virtually useless college degree. Just what did Josh think a "degree in economics" would prepare him to understand, or, more importantly, do for a living?


Anonymous said...

I have a friend who got her degree in political science. She had no intention of getting into politics, no intention of using the public relations side of it to start a career, and only toyed with the option of using her education in a job with a charity organization. She struggled for years to find a job that she liked after college. She currently works at something entirely unrelated to political science and uses little to no skills related to her degree in this job.

You have to wonder...what are they thinking when they pick this major?

Darren said...

What about victimhood studies majors?

Anonymous said...

"after leaving Oregon State University"

Therein lies the problem.