First Peoples, a new PBS series, premieres today. It’s “a global detective story that traces the arrival of the first Homo sapiens on five continents.”
Anthropology leads Kiplinger’s Worst College Majors for Your Career. It combines low pay and high unemployment. Anthro majors are twice as likely as the average college graduate to end up working in retail in a job that doesn’t require a college education.
Unemployment rate: 6.9%
Recent grad employment rate: 10.5%
Median salary: $40,000
Median salary for recent grads: $28,000
Projected job growth for this field, 2010-2020: 21%
Likelihood of working retail: 2.1 times average
Many anthropology graduates “are studying a culture they didn’t expect: the intergenerational American household, as seen from their parents’ couch.” Nearly a third of recent grads are in low-paying office or sales jobs. Recent graduates average $28,000 per year, less than the median pay for someone with only a high school diploma. Students interested in foreign cultures would do better to major in international relations, Kiplinger suggests.
Fine arts, film/photography, studio arts, graphic design and drama/theater also are low-earnings, high-retail majors. Also on the list: philosophy and religious studies, sociology, liberal arts and my major, English.
I’d guess that arts and theater majors understand they’re going to struggle to make a living. Do sociology majors know their odds?
If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.
I’m not sure writing bad poetry constitutes practicing art or enlarges the soul.