The ‘useless’ degree17/05/2012 # 07:00 # Impressions - my diary # 8 Comments
Under the strain of the economic times, with a second recession looming over our heads and recited as a warning for us to behave, save, budget and look to the growing fields and industries to absorb the influx of the newly unemployed, the questions and doubts of what to study – and if what we have chosen to study will result in employment – are ever-pressing.
Students are anxiously directed to study in the fields of engineering, law, commerce and finance, believing that with these fields they will ultimately find employment with a decent pay cheque, using this as their mantra to get them through their years of study. Are the results obscured then or are the golden children of the nation truly employed and earning high salaries, while we sit in the background as the black sheep?
Coming from the workplace and moving into an institution of higher learning, I can say with surety that this is not the case. While there do seem to be more jobs available in the above-mentioned fields, availabilities are limited in number, leaving the rest that have graduated in these fields with little opportunities elsewhere to go. While these fields are taken more seriously, and have a stricter regiment in studying, accompanied by harsher time tables, many graduates are unable to function and integrate outside of these communities. An engineer who fails to find employment is unlikely to integrate sufficiently into a ‘mundane’ environment. Hence, the stereotype of the engineer who is unable to hold a conversation outside of his field of study emerges.
This is where the ‘useless’ degree serves a better purpose. Through studying a BA in the Humanities, the most valuable thing you learn is how to learn. This may seem strange but BA students are not fed, prepped and prized like the golden children. Rather, it is a matter of sink or swim, with the students having to navigate and find the answers, often on their own. Due to the more relaxed routine and time-table, they have to implement self-discipline and time-management. It is these traits that serve the BA student better than other professions, allowing them to choose a job that – even if they have not been trained for as such – they will be able to adapt to and ultimately find the solutions to most problems, albeit often using google, wiki-pedia and social networks to their advantage, thus exploiting the tools that they have access to. The key to surviving in the current economic climate is to be adaptable and perhaps a bit entrepreneurial which the BA graduate encompasses. It is with this in mind that I would hire a BA student over other degrees, as just as the BA student needs to be adaptable in the current economic climate, so do businesses and their employees if they are to survive.