You need a strong dose of reality to pick a major that helps you on the job market.
But reality doesn’t really hit you until you’re on the job market.
But if you go to college right out of high school, you don’t really hit the job market until after college.
This seems like a problem.
The highschool-to-college pipeline which expects kids to have their major picked straight out of K-12 seems a little unreal. Because selecting your major essentially means selecting your career. And K-12 is an environment in which they are essentially still being babysat.
So you’re asking kids to go straight from being treated as glorified toddlers, environments where chances are they still have to ask permission to use the bathroom, to asking them to decide to pick what they’re going to gamble what could end up being a nearly lifelong debt sentence on, picking what they want to spend four years paying out the nose for and studying, and effectively asking them what they want to do for the rest of their lives.
Because, if they hit the job market and actually get on-the-job experience and find out, whoa, this is not actually what I want to do – what, do they get a second chance? To go back to school, and try something else?
Not really. A lot of people don’t. Some people never get a first chance.
Some kids are financially practical, and God bless them, but a lot of kids aren’t, because that’s not what kids, by definition, are. A lot of kids are still thinking about Batman, because kids are kids.
Sorry, let me just hit you with some unfortunate reality, as someone with a history degree, who has been fighting my way into IT.
Anyone who tells you that getting a liberal arts degree is at all workable in today’s world is an asshole who is just drinking the koolaid and trying to justify their own decision to themselves, or maybe one of the rare few who lucked out and got a tenure position and is selling academia’s multi-level marketing scheme.
The lack of time on the job market before choosing a college major completely destroys the feedback loop between decision-making and consequences for the decision. Therefore it is no wonder that kids choose college majors completely in the abstract with zero connection to actual careers available.
It’s worth considering that maybe young people should have to wait before applying to college and work jobs with a high school degree and be forced to live with the questions of:
- Oh shit, what would living on my own be like?
- What would paying all these bills be like? What the hell are these? This is a thing?
- What jobs are actually out there, which, you know, actually exist, instead of just being my fantasy?
- What jobs actually make enough money to support me?
- What degrees do you need for those jobs, as opposed to random degrees that are just sort of cool stuff I like?
If you handled things this way, they might pick a wiser major.
The German system of education has apprenticeship programs where education is much more closely tied to actual careers and actual employment opportunities which actually exist. It’s not how their entire education system works, they definitely still give you the opportunity to blow your time on liberal arts degrees that leave you not only unemployed if not actually even unemployable, but at least a part of their system works that way.
Young people are young people. They need society’s guidance. They shouldn’t be blamed, or economically punished, for making these decisions. They shouldn’t even be asked to make decisions which they can’t yet possibly have the information or perspective or life experience to make, decisions which nonetheless leave them endebted for possibly a decade or more and financially impacted and disadvantaged for literally the rest of their lives. Society is forcing financial decisions on young people that are literally over their heads and punishing them for it later. This is an obvious racket.
Free college and debt cancellation for everyone would be nice.
As long as we live in capitalism and aren’t being given transitional demands, our education system should literally limit the combined admissions of departments to the total economically forecast jobs available in those fields. This way we don’t have a surplus of people with relevant degrees, and resultingly people with student debt who can’t pay it.
This won’t be implemented, though, because the liberals will think it’s too restrictive and draconian, and also because it makes too much utilitarian sense.
And if you do want to let kids blow their futures on the liberty of studying whatever they want? Just to, I don’t know, be educated about society, only to suffer having to enter the workforce taking jobs with essentially highschool degrees encumbered by overqualification, cultural dislocation, and a mountain of debt?
Are you really being humane to them?
And let’s be real, a lot of what they teach in colleges really isn’t really radicalism, it’s just liberalism cloaked in the language of radicalism. It’s not consistently anti-capitalist and it has no substantial strategy for systemic change.
If they’re going to go in that direction, though, just advise them on what they’re really getting into. Be real with them.
But could they even possibly have the life experience to even understand what the hell you’d be telling them?
Maybe this is a choice better made for them.
In retrospect I wish my parents had said, “Shut the fuck up son, we’re not letting you go to college for anything but STEM.”
Since they were partially paying, they literally had the economic power to stop me. They could have. They didn’t.
Sometimes that’s what love means.