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Is College Worth the Investment if You are a Liberal Arts Major?

Is College Worth the Investment if You are a Liberal Arts Major?

  • Yes

  • No


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TheDev

Senior member
Jun 1, 2012
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Is a recent issue of Newsweek, they asked the question, "Is college a lousy investment?" In this article, they said that more than 50% of college graduates are either unemployed or working at jobs that have traditionally not required college degrees. Jobs like waiters, secretaries, and mail carriers. This article also stated that the average household student loan debt is 5 times as high as it was in 1999.

With that being said, when I read the question, "Is college a lousy investment?" I answered, not for me. Mainly because I majored in a field where I got a good, high-paying career right out of college, and I am on track to pay down all my loans in 2 years, and I have a lot of loans.

I believe that the real problem is that colleges push these liberal arts degrees that have absolutely no correlation to real jobs. When I went to my ultra-liberal Big Ten university, they kept saying nonsense like that you could major in anything and get any job you wanted. That is a complete lie. There is no way I would have the job I have now if I didn't major in a very specific subject. Yet hordes of idealistic young people believe this nonsense, major in useless subjects, and surprise! No one wants to hire you.

So for this subject, I am going to put a twist on the question that Newsweek asked. Is college a lousy investment? No, not if you major in something that actually correlates to a good job. However, is college worth the investment if you are a liberal arts major? I would say no. Your thoughts?
 
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DCal430

Diamond Member
Feb 12, 2011
6,021
9
81
Liberal arts majors tend to gravitate towards jobs like teaching, which still pay better than jobs that require no degrees. The only exception would be waiter/waitress who tend to make as much as many college graduates due to tips.
 

jhu

Lifer
Oct 10, 1999
11,919
8
81
It can be, depending on the person's goals. For example, if someone wants to become a lawyer or doctor, it doesn't really matter what that person majors in. At least for medical school, being a liberal arts major makes an applicant stand out from the sea of mundane biology majors.
 

unokitty

Diamond Member
Jan 5, 2012
3,349
1
0
From: The college students you don't know

"A study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education estimated that only a third of new jobs created between 2008 and 2018 will require a bachelor's or higher degree."

If by investment, you mean a positive ROI as measured in dollars earned over a lifetime, for all Liberal Arts Majors, I suspect not.

On the other hand, with the government providing loans for anyone independent of their ability to repay them, what could possibly go wrong?

Uno
 
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shortylickens

No Lifer
Jul 15, 2003
78,346
11,288
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nope, in fact I wish banks would stop giving loans for liberal arts, philosophy, womens studies, african american studies, and art history. You should only get someone else to pay for your college if you have a chance to make money afterwards.

Ditto grants & scholarships. In fact I think state universities should have their funding reduced if they give out too many bullshit degrees.
 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,880
4,212
126
nope, in fact I wish banks would stop giving loans for liberal arts, philosophy, womens studies, african american studies, and art history. You should only get someone else to pay for your college if you have a chance to make money afterwards.

Ditto grants & scholarships. In fact I think state universities should have their funding reduced if they give out too many bullshit degrees.
I think people who believe that the purpose of higher education is a job shouldn't go. That doesn't mean that is should be a main goal, but I witness stupidity and ignorance on a daily basis and right here by people who haven't a clue outside what they read on the internet or that's not job related. They never learned how to think, they regurgitate.
 

irishScott

Lifer
Oct 10, 2006
21,570
2
0
Probably not, but possibly yes.

My sister is a full liberal arts major with a Bachelor's in Political and Social Thought and she's currently completing a Master's in International Relations in Geneva Switzerland. Eventually she wants (for the moment) to go into some large international political organization.

The issue is that getting a job like that is contacts contacts contacts. Which she is developing right now. There's not a solid guarantee that she'll get a good job. She's certainly intelligent enough to handle one, and I'd think she'd be an asset anywhere from a career perspective, but the simple fact is she has no expertise outside of the liberal arts and no current plans to acquire any. If the contacts/networking don't come through, she's in a helluva rut.

For my part, I'm a Computer Engineering major. 'Nuf said. :p
 

shortylickens

No Lifer
Jul 15, 2003
78,346
11,288
126
Higher education costs money. Too much fucking money. It shouldnt be paid for unless theres a better chance at real money later.

As for stupidity and ignorance on a daily basis, college most definitely does NOT correct that. You need to go out into the real world and deal with shit to learn that. Basic ignorance is the fault of the lower education, K-12. Thats a separate issue.

In fact I wish kids were forced out into the real world to see and experience things before they get a shot at college. They'd be less inclined to fuck it all away.

In fact I think in europe thats the norm, one year off before starting college.
 
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Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,880
4,212
126
Higher education costs money. Too much fucking money. It shouldnt be paid for unless theres a better chance at real money later.

As for stupidity and ignorance on a daily basis, college most definitely does NOT correct that. You need to go out into the real world and deal with shit to learn that. Basic ignorance is the fault of the lower education, K-12. Thats a separate issue.

In fact I wish kids were forced out into the real world to see and experience things before they get a shot at college. They'd be less inclined to fuck it all away.
There's something to be said for people having a personal stake in it. I also get the "job" thing, but the purpose of higher education is (or should be) to help form rational thinking people with a broad background who also get what they need to have a job. Depth of ignorance and technical knowledge are not mutually exclusive. Some the most "educated" people in a job sense are among the most clueless. Sheep to the slaughter and they don't even understand the concept.
 

Rainsford

Lifer
Apr 25, 2001
17,520
0
0
"Liberal arts" is an awfully large category, and "college costs" vary hugely depending on where you go, so it's really hard to come up with a good answer to the question. However, while I personally think more specific job related degrees are MORE valuable (I admit a bias there, being a computer engineer), there are still a lot of jobs you can get with a liberal arts degree that you probably couldn't get with NO degree...and those jobs tend to be higher paying ones.
 

irishScott

Lifer
Oct 10, 2006
21,570
2
0
Higher education costs money. Too much fucking money. It shouldnt be paid for unless theres a better chance at real money later.

As for stupidity and ignorance on a daily basis, college most definitely does NOT correct that. You need to go out into the real world and deal with shit to learn that. Basic ignorance is the fault of the lower education, K-12. Thats a separate issue.

In fact I wish kids were forced out into the real world to see and experience things before they get a shot at college. They'd be less inclined to fuck it all away.
Define "the real world". I'm fortunate enough to come from a well off family and my parents are paying for me to go to college. The only jobs I've ever had have been paid internships and some volunteer work. I'll admit I don't and likely will never have a rags-to-riches story. But should that have disqualified me from college?

I agree that a lot of kids graduating high school are naive as fuck, but that's the fault of the parents more than the schools IMO. My theory is that a lot of hippies wised up before they completely melted their brains and actually started making money. They then raised kids who have both money, and the hippie attitude; creating some of the most ignorant entitled fucks I've ever met.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
66,733
3,560
126
I think people who believe that the purpose of higher education is a job shouldn't go. That doesn't mean that is should be a main goal, but I witness stupidity and ignorance on a daily basis and right here by people who haven't a clue outside what they read on the internet or that's not job related. They never learned how to think, they regurgitate.
There is an old word for the folk you are talking about here, I think, Hay, and that word is shallow. Folk are almost so universally shallow these days they actually have no idea. And, of course, these very shallow people have destroyed the world where folk could acquire depth before starving to death trying to find a job. The shallow have ruined the world to the point that a job and money are now everything. If you have money and a job you're deep.
 

Rainsford

Lifer
Apr 25, 2001
17,520
0
0
Higher education costs money. Too much fucking money. It shouldnt be paid for unless theres a better chance at real money later.

As for stupidity and ignorance on a daily basis, college most definitely does NOT correct that. You need to go out into the real world and deal with shit to learn that. Basic ignorance is the fault of the lower education, K-12. Thats a separate issue.

In fact I wish kids were forced out into the real world to see and experience things before they get a shot at college. They'd be less inclined to fuck it all away.

In fact I think in europe thats the norm, one year off before starting college.
I never got the "real world" vs "academia" comparison. It's all "the real world", you just get a different set of experiences depending on what parts of the world you explore. The value of college for me personally was WAY beyond just the facts I learned in class.
 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,880
4,212
126
There is an old word for the folk you are talking about here, I think, Hay, and that word is shallow. Folk are almost so universally shallow these days they actually have no idea. And, of course, these very shallow people have destroyed the world where folk could acquire depth before starving to death trying to find a job. The shallow have ruined the world to the point that a job and money are now everything. If you have money and a job you're deep.
Aye, that's the sad way of things. No questioning, no wondering at why the human condition is as we find it. No appreciation for art or literature beyond saying they've read it. The world is full of sights and sounds only available to an open mind. A context rich universe of wonders reduced to mechanistic figures and data points. The marvel, the richness of it all, sold for a bowl of porridge.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
66,733
3,560
126
There are two forms of thinking, linear and holistic sometimes referred to as left and right brained. It is the convergence of a deeply analytical mind (focused specialization)and a deeply inspirational mind, a mind steeped in data (liberal education) from which arise far flung connections that creates genius level thinking.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
66,733
3,560
126
Aye, that's the sad way of things. No questioning, no wondering at why the human condition is as we find it. No appreciation for art or literature beyond saying they've read it. The world is full of sights and sounds only available to an open mind. A context rich universe of wonders reduced to mechanistic figures and data points. The marvel, the richness of it all, sold for a bowl of porridge.
When oppression exists, even the bird dies in the nest. A saying

Competition creates hate, in my opinion, and job competition is just another form of hate, envy of those who get the job and contempt for the inferiority of those who don't. Hate is a mind killer, a form of fear. Peace and security foster liberal thought.
 

irishScott

Lifer
Oct 10, 2006
21,570
2
0
Aye, that's the sad way of things. No questioning, no wondering at why the human condition is as we find it. No appreciation for art or literature beyond saying they've read it. The world is full of sights and sounds only available to an open mind. A context rich universe of wonders reduced to mechanistic figures and data points. The marvel, the richness of it all, sold for a bowl of porridge.
Maybe some of us just don't see the point.

I can and have analyzed literature and philisophical works. It's not my major, but our University requires Engineering majors to take "breadth requirements" in the liberal arts and I make a point to do my best in them.

Liberal thought and philosophizing is great, necessarry and certainly has its place... but at the end of the day it simply isn't that productive. I'm not saying its worthless, hell it was philosophers who produced logic and the scientific method. But in the modern era it would seem that similar groundbreaking modes of thought are much less likely to be realized. At least until the underlying technology makes them possible.

One could argue Star Trek is the ultimate ideal liberalisation of society. A utopia created by effectively infinite resources, where central distribution of resources is decided by publicly acknowledged algorithms based on an individual's participation, and where in the absolute worst case basic needs are accounted for.

However, such a society is simpy not possible without such devices as the replicator, warp drive, recyling tech, highly efficient power generation, etc. Philosophy, literature and art are not going to invent said devices.

It's the latest fad (and by latest I mean over a century old) to bash capitalism for its inhumanity. Simple fact is humans, by nature, are competitive and violent to a significant degree. This has been seen throughout our history, it's how we survived, how we advanced. It's the reason philosophy as we know it even exists. Capitalism and Democracy harness these negative urges, and turn them into fuel that advances society. Granted the conversion process isn't 100% efficient, but it's there. Where greedy individuals used to kill and ruin lives to obtain power, now they can do so by helping others (getting paid for services). One could argue Steve Jobbs was arrogant, greedy. He could have possibly been a Napoleon in another context. But the path was provided for him to obtain similar levels of power not by conquering nations, but by advancing technology that improves peoples' lives and making it available to the world.

I believe that this harnessing of competition will continue, and that it will eventually produce the technologies needed for the next great leap in philosophy, in human existance. Why shouldn't we indulge it?
 

TheDev

Senior member
Jun 1, 2012
206
0
0
When oppression exists, even the bird dies in the nest. A saying

Competition creates hate, in my opinion, and job competition is just another form of hate, envy of those who get the job and contempt for the inferiority of those who don't. Hate is a mind killer, a form of fear. Peace and security foster liberal thought.
lol are you a philosophy major? How's that working out for ya?
 

irishScott

Lifer
Oct 10, 2006
21,570
2
0
When oppression exists, even the bird dies in the nest. A saying

Competition creates hate, in my opinion, and job competition is just another form of hate, envy of those who get the job and contempt for the inferiority of those who don't. Hate is a mind killer, a form of fear. Peace and security foster liberal thought.
Perfect peace and security foster stagnation. The drive to do anything is by its very nature a form of violence. The thought of "I am hungry, I must eat." is a form of violence, albeit a very mild one. The hungy person is not at peace until they acquire food.

Competition does not create hate, individuals do. I compete with many of my best friends daily. I am envious of what some of them have, but I do not hate them.
 

TheDev

Senior member
Jun 1, 2012
206
0
0
If you are interested in liberal arts subjects, buy some books and indulge those interests that way. It's way less expensive than a degree that won't get you a good job. It's not like you're really gaining anything from professors at liberal arts universities that focus 90% of their effort on their own research and 10% of their effort on teaching, or the snotty teacher assistants that have very little to no understanding of the subject, yet have to pick up all of the slack for the professor.
 

IronWing

No Lifer
Jul 20, 2001
61,228
14,087
136
If your life is enriched by what you learned while obtaining a liberal arts degree and you in some way enrich our society in ways not possible without that education than I think would be worth it. Financial return is but a single measure of return on investment. If financial return were the only consideration in life choices no one would ever go on vacation.
 

Franz316

Senior member
Sep 12, 2000
877
216
116
At its core, academia should teach people how to think critically, make observations and associations, and then articulate a coherent reasoning of why you think what you think. This creates a highly adaptable person that can apply these skills to practically any job or part of life. No matter what the major, a person should come out of college with these skills. Academics should be a whole lot more than just regurgitating a bunch of information every three months on exams. A critically thinking person is much more versatile than a one trick pony who just spits out technical info. Although that is important, it can be acquired as necessary by a critical thinking person.

Basing a college education merely on if it gets you a job is a shallow way to look at it. If you are resourceful and a diligent worker you'll find something no matter what. As with most things, you get out of it what you put into it. I'm just saying that you can acquire some priceless skills while in college, and it isn't all about getting a 'job'. BTW education costs are ridiculous.
 
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Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
66,733
3,560
126
Perfect peace and security foster stagnation. The drive to do anything is by its very nature a form of violence. The thought of "I am hungry, I must eat." is a form of violence, albeit a very mild one. The hungy person is not at peace until they acquire food.

Competition does not create hate, individuals do. I compete with many of my best friends daily. I am envious of what some of them have, but I do not hate them.
Look, just because I explain something doesn't mean you can follow what I say any more than me telling you what you feel is something you can check. You can't know what I know because you haven't discovered your unconscious motivations. You can't know what you are unconscious of any more than you can know that you are motivated not to know. You do not know, you do not know you don't know, and you don't know you don't want to know. Your prison is invisible. In order to escape you are going to need somebody who has already escaped and knows the way.

So are you ready to take my word for this, that I know what you do not, or is your ego competitiveness going to get in the way? Of course, you will probably chalk all this up to something else, eh?
 

Doppel

Lifer
Feb 5, 2011
13,313
2
0
nope, in fact I wish banks would stop giving loans for liberal arts, philosophy, womens studies, african american studies, and art history. You should only get someone else to pay for your college if you have a chance to make money afterwards.

Ditto grants & scholarships. In fact I think state universities should have their funding reduced if they give out too many bullshit degrees.
Agree. These stupid degrees are just an excuse to blow 4-5 years doing fvcking nothing. Society needs to stop coddling. I actually know a guy who just sent his son off to college for a degree in "art therapy". I am not kidding, so it is not just the students but their parents are also not telling them the truth about their future.

This all comes down to debt. If your parents are paying, get th sociology degree or degree in art history. If you are paying get a real degree or go do something else like learn how to plastic weld PVC piping.

This idea that college should not be for jobs is absurd. Most people are there to dick around or to ultimately get a job, not study English lit so that they can write their own novel or expand culture themselves and it is a big ignorant cop out to pretend it is ok to waste four years "learning how to think critically" if at the end you are serving coffee and up to asshole in debt.

Btw all of these so called skills can be learned at college getting a real degree as well.
 

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