I used to be a college tour guide, in which I told prospective students that they could choose from over 150 different majors at my school. Apparently, 13 or so of them are completely useless — including mine. How about yours? Is your entire collegiate career a sham of actual productivity?
Earlier this week, The Daily Beast had the nerve to publish a list that finally identifies the thirteen most useless majors that college students call their own too often. The lucky thirteen was based on the undoubtedly truthful practices of science and statistics:
“This year we started with new research (PDF) from Georgetown University — which drew from two years of census data to determine the prospects for myriad majors — to narrow down our list to more than three dozen popular college majors. We also used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, equally weighing the following categories to determine current and future employment and earnings potential for our final ranking: Recent graduate employment, experienced graduate employment, recent graduate earnings, experienced graduate earnings, [and] projected growth in total number of jobs, 2010–2020.”
So basically, these were selected from the most popular majors in college, and then deemed “useless” when measuring how much money they haven’t earned past graduates and how many of them are still looking for jobs altogether. More importantly, these supposedly breakthrough findings are based on data collected over the past two years — you know, two of the bleakest years that our country has seen for quite a long time now.
And of course, which industries take a heavy blow throughout an economic recession? Without even looking at the list of overwhelming university uselessness just yet, it’s easy to guess that the liberal arts are, once again, deemed unfit for the blessed brains of science, math, engineering, etc.
I once defended all liberal arts majors on CollegeCandy, and I’ll do it again if I have to. I could continue my rant about how careers in the liberal arts aren’t as clear-cut as those in science-related fields, and I’d reiterate how so many people — more people than we think — don’t necessarily pursue careers in the fields they initially chose when they were 18-year-old freshmen in college. Because 18-year-olds don’t always make good decisions, and neither do 22-year-old graduates who are still somewhat confused by the direction of the rest of their lives, as well as 50-year-olds who undergo a career change after they’re flat-out disappointed in whatever they eventually chose to pursue.
However, I think it’s more important here to see how inaccurate the definitions of “useful” and “useless” are in this list’s context. These majors’ “uselessness” doesn’t matter at all because the definition of “usefulness” does not capture personal happiness, worldwide impact or cultural contribution — it only measures how fast YOU can pay off YOUR student loans by getting a high-paying job after graduation. But honestly, getting your money’s worth from a major and actually doing something useful with it are two different things. The nurse who majored in biology and spent a decade weighing patients on scales and measuring people’s blood pressure may not be as useful as the filmmaker who exposed an injustice through a documentary. Who has a bigger impact on the world? Who can be called more useful?
Even more so, “useful” majors would be nothing without the “useless” ones — what industry can function without artists to create advertising or language majors to publicize it…or even write a manual for that fancy scientific invention? And what will all those useful people do with their free time, if not veg out in front of the television, watch movies, listen to music, read the news, or enjoy some other product from a liberal arts major? Sure, science may save lives, but art makes life worth living.
See for yourself how “useless” the following 13 majors are, and how messed up our world would be if bright minds like us stopped majoring in them:
Are there certain college majors that are more useless than others? Or does its “usefulness” really depend on what is done with it after graduation?
Ashley is a UC San Diego grad who is holding on way too tightly to a potential career in magazines and goes to Vegas all too often. She’s fascinated with celebrities and strawberry beer and doubles as a pathological texter/emailer/blogger. Feed the addiction with tweets @cashleelee. Thanks in advance.