10 low-earning college majors

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.

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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?

Ann Althouse quotes from Kurt Vonnegut’s A Man Without a Country:

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.

Britain: More degrees are worth less

College –and debt — for all isn’t just a U.S. thing. Students must be told the whole truth about the value of a college degree, writes Fraser Nelson in Britain’s Telegraph.

To listen to ministers talk about university education, it is as if Britain has entered an academic arms race with the rest of the world. China’s universities, we’re told, are spewing out six million graduates a year: we must compete, or we’re doomed. In the Blair years, a national target was set: half of all young people ought to enter higher education. They’d have to get into debt, but they were reassured it would be a worthwhile investment.

The real picture is more complex, Nelson argues. “In many lines of work, those who did not get the A-levels for university now have a future just as bright (or otherwise) as the graduates.”

Students are told they’ll earn much more with a degree — but a degree in what? Golf Management? Trade  Union Studies? The college premium diminishes for students with less rigorous degrees, especially for men. Humanities graduates also fare poorly, according to a recent government report, Nelson writes.

Those who graduate in the subjects I studied, history and philosophy, can expect to earn a paltry £35 a year more than non-graduates. For graduates in “mass communication” the premium is just £120 a year. But both are better value than a degree in “creative arts”, where graduates can actually expect to earn £15,000 less, over a lifetime, than those who start work aged 18.

Almost a third of recent college graduates are in jobs that don’t require higher education and one in 10 is “on the dole.”

Many ‘dreamers’ will need GED, college access

Young illegal immigrants began applying this week for two-year stays on deportation and renewable work permits. High school drop-outs can qualify by enrolling in a GED or job training program. That sets the bar low: Enrolling is easy; completion is hard.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  Half the jobs lost in the recession have been recovered, according to a Georgetown report, but virtually all new jobs require college credentials — a certificate, associate degree or bachelor’s.

Tuning up higher ed

What does a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering mean? What about an associate degree in nursing? Colleges and universities in seven states are “tuning” courses and degree programs, setting clear standards for what graduates in a specific discipline should know and be able to do.

E-textbooks aren’t much cheaper than traditional books. Apple’s iBook app will require students to use an iPad. To really slash rising textbook costs, college students need access to o-books — free or very cheap open-source learning materials — advocates argue.

Dual enrollment works only if it’s rigorous

Dual enrollment — college classes for high school students — boosts college-going and graduation rates only if students take rigorous classes on a college campus, a study finds. There are no gains for marginal students.

Also on Community College Spotlight: More degrees for the dollar?

And, for-profit students are less likely to be working and earn less than similar students who enrolled at a public or private nonprofit college, suggests a new study.

How much debt for a degree?

Education Sector’s debt-to-degree ratio finds “the national enterprise of producing college degrees is increasingly being floated on a sea of debt.”

Also on Community College SpotlightWhere the boys are, but the men aren’t.

STEM rules

Science and math mastery lead to money, according to this Live Science infographic.

For-profits award more degrees

More Americans are earning postsecondary degrees, according to the federal Condition of Education report. Growth is fastest at for-profit colleges and universities.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  Researchers are trying to combine data on students’ academic progress from very different colleges and universities — including for-profits, community colleges and state universities — to analyze factors that lead to success or failure.

Is college worth it?

Nearly all parents want their kids to go to college, but Americans aren’t sure college is worth what it costs, a new survey finds.

College presidents complain high school graduates are less prepared for college and don’t study as much as in the past.  Most don’t think President Obama’s goal — making the U.S. first in the world in college graduates by 2020– will be achieved.

The great college degree scam

Young people are falling victim to the great college degree scam, warns economist Richard Vedder.

Also on Community College Spotlight: Too much choice? Many students are overwhelmed by the freedoms of college.