Earlier this week, Yahoo! published some of the worst advice for parents and for young adults regarding education and employment that I’ve seen in years (here: http://education.yahoo.net/articles/beware_these_five_majors.htm?kid=1O0V3). It isn’t just bad advice with worse information. It betrays a mercenary, simple view of life and the nature of happiness itself.
I responded viscerally, in the best 21st century fashion: twitter.
But, I am an essential worker.
*Bad* advice in this article. Absolutely sad.
Don’t Let Your Kids Study These Majors http://education.yahoo.net/articles/beware_these_five_majors.htm …
David Reynaldo, the gentleman quoted in the article, who founded CollegeZoom.us, responded to my tweet with a link to a blog post he wrote prior to the Yahoo article.
It’s a very good list with sound advice.
The Yahoo! journalist edited Reynaldo’s views apparently to create (I assume) a more sensational article which would drive traffic on the site. My theories about the author, her editor, and the intention of the quotes are entirely subjective. I can say, however, that Reynaldo himself was dismayed.
(See his response here: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/1504970-hey-parents.html)
David asked me what I think given his earlier blog post and his response in the discussion thread.
I think a number of things, but I’ll try to keep it somewhat brief.
I appreciate your post on collegezoom.us regarding the Yahoo article’s advice for choosing a major in college. I find it difficult to comment on the article because the assertions it makes are both professionally inaccurate and, worse, morally vapid. Please note, I do not say that I believe your comments were ill-informed or shallow. The author of the article, however, certainly spun the meaning she wanted to attain the most catchy headline.
Sadly, for so many of us, it probably worked.
To begin with the easy stuff -
Her promises of high paying jobs from bachelors of arts in finance, accounting, or business administration are empty. Any position with real authority, and therefore, real earning power, in those departments will be staffed with someone who has a Masters of Business Administration. Business people, myself included, find BAs in Business Administration even funnier than Basket Weaving. If you want to learn how business works, get a job, almost any job will do. Start at the bottom – like everyone else – and figure out what makes work work.
Degrees in Elementary Education are similarly empty, but for very different and more sinister reasons. The legal environment in which teachers work today makes it almost impossible for a teacher to create their own lesson plans or their own motivational tactics. Unless one works for a private school (which pays far less, and probably has fewer benefits), the school district will tell you what you will teach, what materials you will use, and how you will use incentives. A teacher has very little opportunity to teach anymore. A degree in this field helps one pass the tests to become credentialed in one’s state, but little more. Incidentally, the degree does not guarantee you will pass these tests, nor is the degree in education required to take these tests.
As for health care industry jobs, there are a plethora of technical schools to fulfill the requirements for these positions. A four year degree is not necessary, and is very expensive. If one wants to continue into hospital administration, one will likely need an MBA, and possibly a law or medical degree as well.
The fundamental assumptions and assertions made in the article are naive.
The truly horrifying component of the piece, however, is more insidious.
The implication is that one only goes to school to be able to make more money, and that the only path to success and happiness is paved with wads of cash. Despite many studies and generations of folklore to the contrary, many people still fall for the more money = more happiness illusion. People fall for it every day.
The disdain in the article for the arts and humanities demonstrated by the author reveals a lack of humanity. For what is it that we live, if not for the very things we require art and histories to discuss? Money can pay your mortgage – and your student loans – but it can never buy you honor, respect, sincere affection, gratitude, or peace.
The arts and humanities may or (more often) may not pay well in cash, but one only goes into those fields professionally for money if one is a true narcissist — in which case, one probably chooses the route of YouTube, reality TV, or politics to gain fame.
An education in the liberal arts feeds the mind and soul, and teaches one how to continue feeding one’s self long after graduation.
Not to mention, it’s much more interesting to talk to a history major than an accountant.
My college advice, for whatever its worth, to parents would be this:
Urge your son or daughter to postpone enrollment in college of any kind until she is certain of her passion or interest.
Provide her with realistic information about the potential risks and benefits of the course of study.
And then -
Let your child become the individual he or she wants to be, regardless of your fears.
Thank you for your consideration, and,