“I Majored In …”

… SOMETHING By Will Folks  ||  I got an undergraduate degree in 1997 from The University of South Carolina – double-majoring in history and philosophy.  And before you ask me what I was thinking, I don’t remember.  Seriously … I was drunk or high the whole time. Two years later…


sic speakingBy Will Folks  ||  I got an undergraduate degree in 1997 from The University of South Carolina – double-majoring in history and philosophy.  And before you ask me what I was thinking, I don’t remember.  Seriously … I was drunk or high the whole time.

Two years later I got a master’s degree in mass communication – again from the University of South Carolina.  That degree I sort of remember … although I was much more focused at the time on extracurriculars.

Of course when I was coming along it didn’t matter … the labor participation rate was 67.2 percent.  The unemployment rate was four percent.  And people were making the big sweet dollars no matter what they did.

Now?  Not so much.  America’s workforce is shrinking … so are its incomes.  And college degrees – which are pricier than ever – are no longer a ticket to gainful employment.  This week The Washington Post qualified just how S.O.L. lots of graduates are … breaking down salary information from PayScale to highlight which degrees lead to “underemployment.”

“Employees with degrees in fields like English, general studies, and graphic design are among the most likely to report feeling ‘underemployed’ at their current jobs,” the Post  report noted. “But more unexpectedly, majorities of graduates with more ‘practical’ degrees in fields like business administration also said their jobs didn’t put their education, training or experience to work as much as they should.”

And here’s the depressing infographic …


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CNSYD August 27, 2014 at 11:08 am

Excepting law, the majors in the least underemployed chart are science and math based. No surprise there.

The Colonel August 27, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Bit, but, but, math and science are hard…
I recruit for the chicken coop, doing spend any things at all working with CJ majors spend the best majority of time and effort with STEMs.

Tunes'n'News August 27, 2014 at 11:13 am

There’s some stats on underemployment in this article. I’ve thought for years that we do a disservice by trying to push everyone toward college when the costs don’t pan out for so many, and where many good jobs are unfilled that require less expensive and extensive training. Yeah, yeah, school choice, last in the nation public schools, yada, yada, yada. Not the focus of the article, but I’ll get it out there for you.

a face in the crowd August 27, 2014 at 11:30 am

I certainly agree that college has become ridiculously expensive, due largely to expanded numbers of useless six-figure administrators / bureaucrats, but you should not confuse becoming an educated person with becoming an employed person. If I considered college as employment training, I probably would not major in philosophy. But I might major in philosophy if I intended to go to law school.

College is supposed to provide people with an education. There are many professional degrees available once that education is complete.

Bible Thumper August 27, 2014 at 11:45 am

Have you ever thought about putting that degree in mass communication to use?

a face in the crowd August 27, 2014 at 12:20 pm

He has exposed a lot of corruption in this state. I dare say that is significantly more than you have done.

Bible Thumper August 27, 2014 at 3:28 pm

My degree is in Leisure Studies.

Squishy123 August 27, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Still more employable than if you had a degree in African-American Studies.

Truth Always Catches Up August 27, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Sic has exposed an extraordinary amount of corruption that you will never see major newspapers in this state touch. Though some of his writings to readers might seem silly, it is not often that he might have the facts wrong.
Having seen first hand how the cesspool of corruption operates – and even a time or two of putting light upon a corrupt SC Family Court judge, I have to stand up and applaud Sic for his work.

E Norma Scok August 27, 2014 at 11:55 am

With all the shortages in computer programmers I keep reading about, I found it interesting that there is about a 27% unemployment rate for newly graduated comp sci graduates.

And if you asked all those engineers that are employed if they like what they are doing..about 80% of them would tell you, no…it sucks. Not because the job isn’t what engineers are trained to do, its just that engineers are told in college they are the answer to every problem, and they’ll be able to have their pick of jobs to do..just like accountants and lawyers were told back in the 90’s. The love affair with STEM majors comes an goes as it basically follows the basic economic principal of supply=demand.

Smirks August 27, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Engineering for the win.

Dave Chappelle August 28, 2014 at 9:08 am

So with engineering and law, I must be safe…phew

Barbarossa August 27, 2014 at 12:27 pm

College has always had two separate and distinct roles… one, to impart practical knowledge into the middle and upper classes so that they could go out and make a living off of said knowledge… and two, to impart cultural sophistication and polish into the upper classes (that lived off of family wealth) through courses that provide no direct linkage to income. The problem with modern America is that too many lower and middle class Americans major in the latter, rather than the former… thus, with the world marching more and more to the practical, they are simply unemployable.

Soft Sigh from Hell August 27, 2014 at 7:58 pm

“to impart practical knowledge into the middle and upper classes so that they could go out and make a living off of said knowledge”

A surprisingly recent addition if you look into it, and one widely ridiculed less than even a century ago.

Tazmaniac August 27, 2014 at 12:37 pm

The US has a severe shortage of educated, QUALIFIED, tradesmen in the construction industry. Right now it is glutted w/ illiterate, labor only, south of the border types who have lowered pay and standards. This has shut out American high school grads from starting as helpers and developing themselves into a pretty decent paying career. College isn’t for everyone, but the good folks in higher education who are benefiting from all that student loan money aren’t going to tell you that.

Mr. Ducks August 27, 2014 at 12:40 pm

I have a BA, masters, and law degree. If I had to do it over again I would first get a 2 year degree from a tech school to learn a skill, then consider options after that to include work or transfer to a 4 year institution. I think there is a tremendous amount of value in the 2 year tech degree and that is the wave of the future in higher ed.

Squishy123 August 27, 2014 at 2:14 pm

So you’re not out shopping for a Bentley and having afternoon affairs at the Four Seasons Hotel with newly hired junior associates like the lawyers on television?

Mr. Ducks August 27, 2014 at 3:07 pm

I wish I had a junior associate. I should have been a plumber.

disgruntled lawyer August 27, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Amen to that brother. To all those folks (Will and otherwise) who believe all lawyers make the big $$$. You are terribly wrong. I’ve been practicing law for 35 years and only had one year in which I made more than 100k. Most of the time it has been in the 60k to 70k range. I’ve been a Plaintiff’s lawyer and a defense lawyer and it’s all about the same. Not to mention what fun it is to be in a profession that is regarded by the general public as about as sleazy as you can get. Grouchy and unrealistic clients, cantankerous judges and opponents at the Bar, no respect from the public, and the common misconception that I have been getting rich makes for near zero (0) job satisfaction. My degree was in History, so there wasn’t much else I could do but go to law school. Wish I had gotten a secondary teaching certification. At least as a teacher you would feel like you are contributing to the betterment of children and the community, albeit you are still underpaid and underappreciated.

E Norma Scok August 27, 2014 at 6:33 pm

I know a lot of rich lawyers and a lot of middle-low income engineers.

anonymous August 27, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Lawyers? They are on every street corner…..

Liz August 27, 2014 at 1:35 pm

part of the problem is high school teachers telling EVERY kid that he or she should go to a 4 year college. it’s not for everyone, and we need skilled tradesmen in the workforce. Those kids end up failing out after wasting time and money – only to go the route they should have taken in the first place.

Mike at the Beach August 27, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Oooooh…you have stepped on the third rail of education discussions. I recognize it because I too have flung myself onto the 625 volts and taken the attendant ass-whippings. Don’t get me wrong- you are absolutely correct. A significant part of the demand for college (that drives up cost and salaries) is absolutely artificial demand brought about by the feel-good silliness that college is for all combined with the easy federal money.

Dave Chappelle August 28, 2014 at 9:07 am

Analogous to the paradigm that homeownership is for everyone. We saw where that took us.

Mike at the Beach August 28, 2014 at 9:13 am

Most excellent catch, amigo.

Soft Sigh from Hell August 27, 2014 at 7:54 pm

One thing this state DOES have is a good (or I hope still good) tech college system. Why do I rarely hear it mentioned any more?

Yea, not so much August 30, 2014 at 6:00 am

I can tell you I’ve seen the tech system on both sides of the proverbial coin, both from hiring and being invited to teach…it’s not good.

I can’t even hire kids straight out of tech in thier field of specialty…because they are lacking.

In fairness to the article and state of things in general, no one wants to do math anymore…too much hard work for a good percentage of them.

Squishy123 August 27, 2014 at 2:08 pm

If someone asks you, “What do you do with a major in ________?”, chances are you’re going to be working at Starbucks or the most educated person working at the carwash.

E Norma Scok August 27, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Or just go into sales. I talk to software salesmen every week who know shit about their product but make a ton more than I do.

Squishy123 August 27, 2014 at 2:11 pm

All the while Bobblehead Sharpton and Uncle Jesse are shaking down technology companies for not being diverse enough. What percentage of students are black in the blue column vs. the gold column?

Building More Prisons August 27, 2014 at 7:52 pm

“Them’s of us civil engineer / criminal justice dual majors are just gettin’ by.


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