Does your degree matter?

Southern Dad

macrumors 68000
Original poster
May 23, 2010
1,532
547
Shady Dale, Georgia
The graduate with a science degree asks, "Why does it work?"
The graduate with an engineering degree asks, "How does it work?"
The graduate with an accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?"
The graduate with an arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"
It's an old joke but it has a ring of truth in this day and age. There are many college graduates that are out of work when they finish school. Are we doing a disservice to the young by not educating them on the career opportunities or lack of career opportunities based upon the degree path that they are choosing?
 

juanm

macrumors 68000
May 1, 2006
1,565
2,880
Fury 161
It's an old joke but it has a ring of truth in this day and age. There are many college graduates that are out of work when they finish school. Are we doing a disservice to the young by not educating them on the career opportunities or lack of career opportunities based upon the degree path that they are choosing?
I work in something that's related to the arts, but in practical life it's more technical (I was disassembling an encoder right before answering this question) and I think the joke is 95% accurate. For some things, a degree is essential, for others, it doesn't matter, it's your talent that counts. Trying to reduce some skills to a syllabus, can help, but in the end, it's your talent and networking that will make you succeed or fail.

So while a good half of my friends come from an arts background, I believe kids should not be encouraged (and perhaps even should be discouraged) to undertake art degrees. And my "artists" friends (mostly 3D industry) usually agree. It's a good career path for those who are wealthy enough that they don't have to work, or for those who love their art so much that they are willing to sacrifice everything to it, on the off chance that it will work out okay.
 

VulchR

macrumors 68020
Jun 8, 2009
2,329
10,251
Scotland
Many people with arts degrees find perfectly good jobs (Google *cough* *cough*), and we are perhaps guilty of training too many STEM graduates. For instance, programming used to be a an easy ticket for the gravy train, but nowadays not so much.

In any case, in my opinion education is about enriching the mind of the individual. If you regret your education because you haven't gotten a job, then you obtained that education for the wrong reason, which, ironically, might also explain why you haven't gotten the job...
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
17,038
16,520
The Misty Mountains
It's an old joke but it has a ring of truth in this day and age. There are many college graduates that are out of work when they finish school. Are we doing a disservice to the young by not educating them on the career opportunities or lack of career opportunities based upon the degree path that they are choosing?
The graduate with a science degree asks, "Why does it work?"
The graduate with an engineering degree asks, "How does it work?"
The graduate with an accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?"
The graduate with an arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"
Three comments-
*Commercial Art everything you see in media provides meaningful and well paid employment. It is highly competitive.
*When I went to college, first part of the 1970s, my college Syracuse University required (or highly suggested) that any straight "art" student also take other/vocational related courses in case painting masterpieces did not work out.
*Career guidance has been around as long as I have. I can't speak for today's schools but I remember vocational tests offered, and potential careers discussed.
 

filmbuff

macrumors 6502a
Jan 5, 2011
807
141
There are useless science degrees too. I think everyone needs to figure out what they want to do early in college, then do research to find out what will make them most competitive in the field. I feel like a lot of people just have a vague idea then get a very general degree (i.e. literature) and are surprised when they can't get a high paying job out of college.
 

Sydde

macrumors 68020
Aug 17, 2009
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... (Google *cough* *cough*) ...
Your syntax is incorrect. "google" is also a verb, I tried what you suggested there, not great results, you were supposed to write "(*cough* Google *cough*)". Of course, the founders of Google have PhDs in CS/IT, that is not "arts".

Yes, education is about expanding/enriching the mind, but our economy is not geared toward such people, to succeed, you have to be a wily sociopath, not some kind of arty-farty hippie. Which kind of explains what is wrong with our society. That Jesus guy was prettymuch on the right track, too bad no one pays attention to his actual words. If they did, we would all be communists or anarcho-syndicalists or something.
 

sviato

macrumors 68020
Oct 27, 2010
2,274
44
HR 9038 A
I have an accounting degree and my courses are a prerequisite for the professional designation that I'm pursuing, so yes my degree does matter.

There are people with more advanced degrees who are unemployed because having a degree is no longer the main required qualification for jobs. When finance, engineering etc industries were booming, universities took more students into those programs to supply the demand. Now, when there's lower demand, we have a lot of qualified graduates seeking the same jobs only now their degree is not the key differentiating factors. Employers know that whoever they recruit will have a degree, so now they're looking at other factors such as soft skill, extra-curricular activities, community involvement, and networking ability. Your degree matters, but right now it's probably not enough.
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
27,345
12,408
My degree got me my first corporate job. Busting my ass got me to the VP/Director level.
 

miloblithe

macrumors 68020
Nov 14, 2003
2,076
28
Washington, DC
Figure 1: Average Salaries by Discipline
Category 2013 Average Salary
Business $55,635
Communications $43,835
Education $40,337
Engineering $62,062
Humanities & Social Sciences $37,791
Math & Sciences $42,731
Overall $45,327

Source: September 2013 Salary Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers
http://www.naceweb.org/about-us/press/bachelor-degree-starting-salary-rises.aspx

Humanities and social sciences grads make 83 cents to the dollar for average graduates. If your kids want to make as much money as possible, engineering seems like the best bet (if they only intend to get a bachelors). If they have other goals in life, they may be better off pursuing something more in line with their interest.

I don't mean to point out the obvious here, but if almost everyone was an engineering major, these numbers would be very different. Engineers would make far less.

Also, to steal Steve Jobs line, many of the most innovative jobs are going to be done by people who understand the intersection of two (or more) other disciplines. Medicine and computer science. Graphic design and business. What have you.
 

zin

macrumors 6502
May 5, 2010
488
6,439
United Kingdom
In the UK the previous administration made it an objective to get more people to go to university. The result was that many universities created useless degrees to attract more people. This was a failed policy.

The result is a complete disaster. You have no idea how many times I read up on people with degrees such as English Literature, Fashion & Design, or Music and they're wondering why they can't get a job. These people spend three or four years studying for these degrees, usually with a Government-backed student loan programme, and likely end up with a job that pays no better than a job with little to no requirements.

These kind of degrees are a complete waste of time and public money. I'm sure smaller institutions could offer these courses for a private fee but they have no place in universities IMO.

The only degrees that really matter and we should be investing in are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and any other degrees that are actually useful and will bring a much higher likelihood of getting a job.

Of course, that's not to say there aren't useless STEM degrees. Chemistry, for instance, has substantially lower employment prospects than things like Engineering or Physics, where things like commercial space travel are going to further increase demand for these people.

If you're wealthy and can afford to pay for the degree by yourself then by all means, feel free to study anything, but as long as you rely on a student loan programme that the Government administers, there should be restrictions on the degrees that can be offered to deter people from wasting their time and everybody else's money.
 

G51989

macrumors 68030
Feb 25, 2012
2,506
10
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
My degree? Yes it matters, without it I would not have the training to get the great jobs I've had or to run my business.

You can't just hire engineers off the street ;)
 

Zombie Acorn

macrumors 65816
Feb 2, 2009
1,301
9,062
Toronto, Ontario
They matter to me as a first generation university graduate. After getting my BFA and BSc I can say that I wouldn't trade either, and anyone who says art education is not important probably lives in a pretty dull world.

Employability leans more towards STEM, but education shouldn't be only about a job.
 

Sydde

macrumors 68020
Aug 17, 2009
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My boyhood hero was the mechanic guy on the '70s TV series Black Sheep Squadron, who would get irked, throw his stogie into the dirt and say, "fix it yourself college boy". I am just an ignorant dilettante.
 

G51989

macrumors 68030
Feb 25, 2012
2,506
10
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
My boyhood hero was the mechanic guy on the '70s TV series Black Sheep Squadron, who would get irked, throw his stogie into the dirt and say, "fix it yourself college boy". I am just an ignorant dilettante.
In high school, I forgoed all that silly SAT classes, and took HVAC in Vo Tech and then Auto Mechanics in high school at the same Vo-Tech school.

So not only am I an awesome engineer and business owners, I know how to get my hands dirty on HVAC systems and cars ;)

I have 2 lifts in my 8 bay garage and a full set of tools,I always work on my own cars and machines :)
 

dec.

Suspended
Apr 15, 2012
1,322
747
Toronto
No. I married rich :eek:

Kind(!) of joking. After a regular office clerk apprenticeship in Germany (very common practice there for anyone who doesn't go to university), I ended up as back office agent at T-Mobil(e) and eventually became a Project Manager, then I met my hubby online, he's an independent consultant for Supply Chain Management, we met, met again, decided for me to immigrate to Canada, got married and and basically I take care of the office from home (and walk the dogs twice a day) and do some voluntary graphics design stuffs. These days nobody ever will care about that degree but back then it was good to have and it definitely added some official statement to my applications when I was on job search.
 

G51989

macrumors 68030
Feb 25, 2012
2,506
10
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
Yes, thanks for asking. :)
I am glad you did!

Some people do very well with no education, and I think that is great.

It also depends on your career path and what you want to do as a job, for me I would love to hire someone who just wants to work hard, but due to the nature of my business, I can only hire people with degrees. It takes years and and years of intense study and training to do what we do.
 

Macky-Mac

macrumors 68030
May 18, 2004
2,589
1,142
....

Also, to steal Steve Jobs line, many of the most innovative jobs are going to be done by people who understand the intersection of two (or more) other disciplines. Medicine and computer science. Graphic design and business. What have you.
They matter to me as a first generation university graduate. After getting my BFA and BSc I can say that I wouldn't trade either, and anyone who says art education is not important probably lives in a pretty dull world.

Employability leans more towards STEM, but education shouldn't be only about a job.
quite true
 

Chundles

macrumors G4
Jul 4, 2005
11,981
364
I have a science degree. I say "How can I help you sir"?

Means diddly squat so far.
 

mojolicious

macrumors 68000
Mar 18, 2014
1,563
310
Sarf London
Different areas of study have different earning potentials. Whilst you'd have to be very brave or wealthy to completely ignore the 'employability' of your degree, I hate the thought (expressed by several people here) that this should be one's primary consideration when choosing what to study.