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Friday, 20 January 2012


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Ouch. Ag is taking it on the chin with 3 out of 5 spots on the list. Many of the jobs are typically in state and federal governments, and they sure aren't hiring now.

As a holder of an Ag (soil science) degree, this is not news to me.


As an agricultural communications graduate, I call into question the article from which this post sprang. I went to school with ANSI majors, many of whom are gainfully employed across the ag industry.

I question what is deemed an "animal scientist" (I would delve into this further, but the creators of the study require you to pay for their content - I'm aghast!). Many of these animal science majors went to work in positions inside animal agriculture, but not as strict "animal scientists." These are places like feedlots, agricultural organizations, and even back to the family farm.

Of course, I guess I'm just a disgruntled agriculture graduate, which makes me the most worthless of all.

That is a very... interesting article.

It asserts that 3 out of the top 5 useless majors have to do with the production of food - Agriculture, Animal Science, and Horticulture.

And yet, anybody who has actually been paying attention to the issues surrounding global warming knows that the horrific drought events seen in Texas and Oklahoma (and in many similar latitudes around the world) this past year are predicted to become worse, to become business as usual, and to spread into ever larger areas. These areas are basically what are currently known as the breadbasket agricultural regions of the world. By 2100,much of the breadbaskets of the world are predicted to be dust bowls.

And, as world population continues to rise from almost 7 billion today to 9 billion by century end, there will come a time between now and then when there simply will not be enough food to feed everyone. And this may well come at a time when there is not enough affordable gasoline to distribute what food there is. And in many places in the world, there will also not be enough fresh water available for agriculture.

According to the experts, we will start to see the beginnings of this scenario start to play out around the world about 2030, when the perfect storm of dwindling food supplies, unsustainable population growth, gasoline expense and shortages, and water shortages come together in a perfect storm, and our way of life on planet Earth will be affected in significant ways for most of the people on the planet.

When food no longer appears in continual abundance in supermarkets, or has become prohibitively expensive for many people, we are going to see a back-to-the-land movement like we have never seen before. There are actually young people in my neighborhood who are already buying fallow small farms in anticipation.

One would think that Agriculture, Animal Science, and Horticulture will be making quite a comeback in the not too distant future.

Damn my double major in theater and fashion design!

I thought Terence Loose's article to be snarky and ill informed but then this is Yahoo not the Washington Post or NY Times.

With the possible exception of Fashion Design, each of the degrees he dissed are of critical importance to thier industry and are respectable fields of study. Without training in Agriculture it would be difficult to take advantage of improvements in plant genetics or livestock management techniques, both essential today's farmer.

A degree in Theater can be useful too, although not necessarily as an actor, but stage technicians in lighting design and sound are in very high demand and will always be able to find a job in our very entertainment oriented society.

I'm not so sure I agree with the underlying logic of the article you link to, Mike. To be fair, I'm a Brit with little knowledge of the USA educational system or employment markets, but my university degree was in Physics, and I have never had any difficulty persuading anyone that the general sciencey analytical skills I honed therein were highly transferable.

Degrees in science subject tend to signal quite a lot to potential employers, including the ability to build a fair body of knowledge in a quite cerebral subject and to stick at something for a few years, and typically that you are quite numerate and comfortable with technical concepts. Even if you don't use the nuts and bolts of the subject again, the degree and the thought processes it embodies can be far from useless.

You miss the point, I think. The point is not--could never be--that these fields are valueless or that the people in them arent' needed or don't need to be trained. The point is simply that there is an oversupply of graduates with that major and a paucity of jobs available--looking at it from a practical point of view, from the student's perspective. Which is also the case with photography degrees right now. That's all.

What's more outdated and useless nowadays than my B.S. degree in photographic engineering technology?

And a PhD in Economics led me straight to becoming a photographer.

Attended RIT for photography for 2 years at the age of 19. Apprenticed with William Vandivert for two years and worked as a self employed pro photographer for 45 years and still shooting at 70+. What I did, learned & experienced in those 45 years could fill 10 books. It was a beautiful trip, still traveling and wouldn't trade it for any other vocation.
It was defiantly a Walter Mitty trip, dream it and it will come true.

I'm a certified member of POEM (the Professional Organization of English Majors) who spent his entire working life in IT.

If you're just starting college, it's well to remember that predictions are hard, especially if they're about the future.

Double degree -- physics and English -- from Caltech, and here I am living the life of the dissolute artist.

pax / Toulouse LauCtein

I've got a B.S. in Radio/TV/Film and an MFA in Cinematography. On the one hand, it is work in a recession-proof industry. On the other hand, there's plenty of competition. I can't stress how hard the past four years have been post graduating, but at the same time, every year has been exponentially better than the one before. I also know I can "sell out" and work in corporate video, I can use my degree to teach, and I can always use my shared skills to jump into the far more lucrative (grin) field of photography.

By one metric, photography is 14th on the list of most useless college degrees:


German major. I had to go back to trade, er law, school. It buys the film though.

For the past 20 years, I've been telling young wannabe lawyers to get an undergraduate degree in one of the hard sciences or in engineering.

You'll do better as a lawyer who is actually comfortable with the fact-investigation and analysis process and who, in this more technical society, can understand basic concepts like the conservation of mass-energy.

Besides, technology may be hard work compared to a "communications" degree, but science and engineering are more fun and socially productive. BS only goes so far because "you can't fool Nature".

FWIW, I'm a trial lawyer now doing fact-based cases like construction claims rather than doing physics. Physics is a lot more fun, despite what TV purports.

I find myself trying to help younger photographers understand what we considered basic concepts like log-based contrast curves and how f4, f5.6 and f8 are related.

Today, most young people view college as merely an expensive trade school - a ticket to a better job. What ever happened to simply desiring to be a well educated man or woman, no matter what career field one chooses?

I live in farm country and just laughed myself off the chair reading that urban view on Ag majors. Everyone I know who goes for that major is not looking for a job, they are hooked up into a family farm or something like that. There are a million and a quarter jobs in their field, and one is waiting for them. I am pretty sure the writer of the article (not you, Mike) simply does not understand that.

I should never be called upon for career day. I'm a sociology major, but employed as a designer for a wholesale plant nursery where photography is at least 50% of my job. I somehow scored a "useless major" hat trick.

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