PDA

View Full Version : U.S. Becoming 2nd Rate


Davian93
09-11-2008, 03:50 PM
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24748826/

Personally I blame the Bush Administration for killing federal funding for such things...but the war is going so well.

tanaww
09-11-2008, 03:56 PM
You need to blame more than Bush as this erosion has been taking place for a long time. Some will scoff and say that this is not a big deal. This is a huge deal and the cause is two-fold. One underfunding reasearch and education and the other the erosion of appropriate educational standards and academic rigor that has led to the output of more recreation majors than science majors.

Since we were founded as a country our competitive advantage has come from research, development and innovation. We have a history of developing technology and then it is exported where it can be reproduced for less. The world copies us, not the other way around. Now it appears the tide is turning and that is very scary to me.

Davian93
09-11-2008, 03:57 PM
Yeah, but its easier to blame Bush.

Gilshalos Sedai
09-11-2008, 04:00 PM
So.... we're supposed to get to Mars, how?

ShadowbaneX
09-11-2008, 04:01 PM
tag along after the Europeans and the Chinese?

Terez
09-11-2008, 04:53 PM
One underfunding reasearch and education and the other the erosion of appropriate educational standards and academic rigor that has led to the output of more recreation majors than science majors.
Hey, you're not talking about music majors are you??? :mad:

DeiwosTheSkyGod
09-11-2008, 05:33 PM
Hey, you're not talking about music majors are you??? :mad:

Mmm... I took a little offense to that, too. My idea of recreation is not what I'm doing right now...

Birgitte
09-11-2008, 05:50 PM
Actually, she is. And History and English. They each have their own place in society and are potentially useful, but as a country, we're becoming unbalanced. In general, we're moving away from the math and science that leads to innovations in technology and we're losing a big advantage in the global market at the same time. It sucks. I'm still not majoring in it, because I'm much more interested in recording and reporting the news than making it. The closest I'm getting is having the words "Bachelor's of Science" on my degree.

Terez
09-11-2008, 06:36 PM
Yet there are tons of scientists from Elsewhere that can't get jobs in their own countries.

They should all move here. :D

Crispin's Crispian
09-11-2008, 07:10 PM
It's more than two-fold.

First, you have outsourcing, in which the major technology companies would rather pay a PhD in or from India $50K a year than pay $85K/year to a U.S. citizen with an M.S. As that phenomenon gets bigger, you have fewer jobs for graduates from US institutions, so there is less incentive to get a tech degree. (You will hear people say that outsourcing jobs isn't really denting the US tech job market. But I get calls weekly from companies that offer low-cost tech services because most or all of their workforce is offshore. In fact, that's their value proposition--they think it makes them more appealing.)

Second, you have a focus on business instead of R&D or science. That is, it's far more lucrative to get a MBA than a PhD, and probably cheaper, too. I hate to say it, but it's easier, too. Even the tech degress are usually oriented to business, because IT and netowrking have become core resources. Anyway, you get a whole bunch of managers, but no one to invent, improve, or design anything. Plus, a music major can always get an MBA if she has the right experience.

Third, pure science is mostly reserved for the university systems. Everything else is science geared toward profit. In fact, a lot of the universities are also gearing toward profit because they need research money from corporations. Corporations don't want to spend money without some return. Let's face it--recreating the Big Bang in miniature isn't going to increase P/E ratios or save jobs. At least not in the short term. Neither is going to Mars.

So, pure scientists go the way of arts and humanities majors--they have to find "real" jobs unless they are extraordinarily talented. This isn't a dig on you arts majors, it's a dig on the priorities of our country.

Terez
09-11-2008, 07:14 PM
Well, one thing I can at least say for myself is that my major is far from easy - music is widely regarded as one of the toughest programs. Everyone thinks music is easy till they have to take music theory. :D That being said, theory is easy for me (it's what I'm going to teach, after all) but the ensembles and performances and practicing and sheer number of hours that music degrees require is taxing to say the least. Most music majors are bound for teaching.

Crispin's Crispian
09-11-2008, 07:31 PM
Well, one thing I can at least say for myself is that my major is far from easy - music is widely regarded as one of the toughest programs. Everyone thinks music is easy till they have to take music theory. :D That being said, theory is easy for me (it's what I'm going to teach, after all) but the ensembles and performances and practicing and sheer number of hours that music degrees require is taxing to say the least. Most music majors are bound for teaching.
Psh. A fat lot of good that does for the economy. At least we can go down with the chamber quartet playing.

Weird Harold
09-11-2008, 07:48 PM
Psh. A fat lot of good that does for the economy. At least we can go down with the chamber quartet playing.
There is some credible evidence that Music Education, especially in the elementary grades, improves science and math scores on high-school graduation tests and (some claim that) early exposure to polyphonic music at very early ages increases IQ scores.

I don't know how strong the evidence is, but I do know that a lot that I learned in the Elementary school choir and junior church choir directly applied to understanding electronics and radar systems.

JSUCamel
09-11-2008, 08:13 PM
It's pretty much like Crispy said. The sciences are being pushed out in favor of business, and those of us who really enjoy science for the sake of science, and even art for the sake of art, are being forced to take other business-related jobs or focus our talents in business directions in order to pay the bills.

I'm a theatre geek. I act, I direct, I write plays, I build sets, I sew costumes. I read plays like most people read books.

But sadly, that can't pay the bills, so I've fallen back on my Computer Science training and that's paying the bills.

I wish I could do theatre full time and make a living doing that. I'd take a major pay cut if I could pay all my bills doing it, but the unfortunate reality is that I can't.

And even in the CompSci industry it's getting harder and harder because so many jobs are being outsourced.

Unfortunately, Obama's posturing and McCain's promises to limit outsourcing is just crock. It's like trying to keep water in a bowl by using a sieve. You've just got to come up with ways to create more jobs here.

Someone mentioned earlier how America's long-time position in the scientific world was to invent, innovate, and create new products and services, which were then shipped off to the rest of the world, which made ways to replicate those products/services for much less money.

We need to keep doing that. So India is getting all of our customer support jobs. What can WE do as Americans to develop a new product or service to replace those jobs? We don't need to make laws against outsourcing, we just need to create more jobs here.

Easier said than done, I imagine.

Bryan Blaire
09-11-2008, 08:31 PM
I completely agree with Camel and CrispyDog. Even my job is done in the name of science for the simplification of cargo inspections, and it has a great deal of computer work instead of any actual scientific investigation/experimentation.

tanaww
09-11-2008, 10:00 PM
Camel, I've made the comment about innovation being our source of competitive advantage many, many times. It is very true. And we are importing scientists because we have a shortage of our own. Science PhDs pay less than some others but better than others too. We're just not putting out enough of them to meet our own demand.

T, I don't mean to disparage music because it is very difficult but it is also a very difficult way to mke a living. I believe in the theories that music education in the primary grades is essential. Particularly the chance to learn to play an instrument or perform and actually learn how to read music. Studies have suggested that musicians do develop higher aptitude levels for math and the sciences than non-musicians. Not to mention the idea of providing a broad education that includes both music and art in addition to critical thinking!

JSUCamel
09-11-2008, 10:32 PM
Camel, I've made the comment about innovation being our source of competitive advantage many, many times. It is very true. And we are importing scientists because we have a shortage of our own. Science PhDs pay less than some others but better than others too. We're just not putting out enough of them to meet our own demand.

I was agreeing with you :)

The arts are very, very necessary, and so are the sciences. It's a shame that so much emphasis is being put on business education, such as it is. Not to say that MBAs are bad, we're just practically oversaturated with that demographic.

tanaww
09-11-2008, 10:41 PM
I don't think it is that emphasis is on Business Education per se. There are a lot of liberal arts majors too! UW-L, for example puts out a whole lot more Recreation Management majors than any other degree. What the hell do you do with that? And within the business discipline kids are choosing the less quantitative fields because the others are too much work. It's discouraging.

And I think I can speak for Muttley and myself when I say that MBA's rawk!

Yuri33
09-11-2008, 10:57 PM
I just finished a PhD dissertation that has potentially profound implications in neuroscience (paper is now under review at Science), and I'm well on my way finishing an MD, with and eye towards a career in academic medicine making significant contributions to clinical practice, research, and teaching.

And I can tell anyone honestly that I would not likely be in such a position without 14 years of training in classical piano.

JSUCamel
09-11-2008, 11:10 PM
I don't think it is that emphasis is on Business Education per se. There are a lot of liberal arts majors too! UW-L, for example puts out a whole lot more Recreation Management majors than any other degree. What the hell do you do with that? And within the business discipline kids are choosing the less quantitative fields because the others are too much work. It's discouraging.

And I think I can speak for Muttley and myself when I say that MBA's rawk!

Well, like Muttley said, many of the liberal arts (including myself) and science majors are moving in more business-oriented directions rather than artistic or scientific directions. Yuri and Prof Snow are fortunate that their professions allow for significant scientific advancements, but I would posit that the vast majority of college graduates these days, especially those in the sciences and liberal arts, are turning towards business-oriented pursuits.

I feel like the best education you can get is a liberal arts education, because you learn valuable skills that create opportunities, while other majors like recreational management and accounting prepare you for nothing at all or very specific fields (respectively).

Then again, I'm biased.

Matoyak
09-11-2008, 11:27 PM
Hmmm...so I'm currently trying to decide whether to major in Aerospace Engineering/something engineering or 3D animation and code.

Heh. Too bad I can't major one and minor the other :p

tanaww
09-11-2008, 11:29 PM
Hmmm...so I'm currently trying to decide whether to major in Aerospace Engineering/something engineering or 3D animation and code.

Heh. Too bad I can't major one and minor the other :p
My advice: Aerospace Engineering and let the Air Force pay for it.

Matoyak
09-12-2008, 12:01 AM
My advice: Aerospace Engineering and let the Air Force pay for it.
Sorry, no military.

Terez
09-12-2008, 12:06 AM
I agree that the business sector is highly over-saturated. Do we really need restaurants on every street corner, and shopping malls in every spare crack? I realize that competition helps to keep prices down and that businesses like these provide jobs...but the jobs that they provide are shit jobs, and despite how it sometimes appears, at least half the people working in those shit jobs are overqualified. They have talents that could be better put to use elsewhere.

John Snow
09-12-2008, 12:29 AM
Yuri and Prof Snow are fortunate that their professions allow for significant scientific advancements,

the funding limitations at the NIH mean more of us are having to look to other agencies, including foundations, sorta ok but small potatoes, and big pharma - I mean, that's not real original research, it's basically running a protocol, but it pays the bills. And you scramble & scrap for the NIH money. Current funding line is the top 10%, and a first submission of a proposal never gets funded these days. So, wish me luck with my "Autumn Wildfires and Health Effects" proposal that's going in shortly........as a first submission. :rolleyes:

Ozymandias
09-12-2008, 05:27 AM
I agree that the business sector is highly over-saturated. Do we really need restaurants on every street corner, and shopping malls in every spare crack? I realize that competition helps to keep prices down and that businesses like these provide jobs...but the jobs that they provide are shit jobs, and despite how it sometimes appears, at least half the people working in those shit jobs are overqualified. They have talents that could be better put to use elsewhere.

People will go where they make the most money. If running a restaurant is gonna do that, thats where they're going to go.

And lets not get carried away with saying how this "edge" is eroding. No offense to the scientists working on projects like this and similar ones, but they're relatively useless. If some European proved string theory tomorrow, it would be hailed in the same light as this, as proof that American research was slipping.

The truth is, military R&D in this country is so advanced that I'm guessing the technological edge between the US and the rest of the world is bigger than we think. Sure, they don't pay for people to work on quantum physics, but who cares? Higher education in this country is better and more available than anywhere else in the world.

Its all very well to say that we don't have any math and science oriented people anymore, but its slightly misleading. Sure, they Chinese care about math and sciences more, but a math-oriented grade school education isn't going to churn out engineers or physicists. If you want to do those things, you need a PhD or some other high level degree, and the fact remains that those people come to the US.

McCain made an interesting comment on this, saying he would be open to easing restrictions on green cards to anyone holding a PhD or other degree. I think thats an excellent idea. It can even be extended. If you want to curb illegal immigration, all you have to do is make it easier to immigrate legally.

Crispin's Crispian
09-12-2008, 08:58 AM
Its all very well to say that we don't have any math and science oriented people anymore, but its slightly misleading. Sure, they Chinese care about math and sciences more, but a math-oriented grade school education isn't going to churn out engineers or physicists. If you want to do those things, you need a PhD or some other high level degree, and the fact remains that those people come to the US.

You're right--we're still the top for technical or engineering education. My grad. program (not an MBA, Tana) had a majority of students from India and Taiwan, with representation from Singapore and Thailand. I know at least one of the Indian guys stayed in the states, but many others went back home.

So, people might come to the US for bleeding edge education, but I think a good number of them leave before they can contribute to our economy.

I should also point out that a lot of my Indian classmates came here already holding graduate degrees in engineering. I think some of them were PhDs already, too.

tanaww
09-12-2008, 09:02 AM
I agree that the business sector is highly over-saturated. Do we really need restaurants on every street corner, and shopping malls in every spare crack? I realize that competition helps to keep prices down and that businesses like these provide jobs...but the jobs that they provide are shit jobs, and despite how it sometimes appears, at least half the people working in those shit jobs are overqualified. They have talents that could be better put to use elsewhere.

Well, the oversaturation of business really has no relation to the production of holders of business degrees. It's a different issue entirely. And if people working in those "shit jobs" are overqualified by education, it likely means they have chosen a field of study in which there is no demand for the skills they've acquired.

My boss and I had a great joke last year. I still find it hilarious! Here you go:

When RS graduates next year I'm buying him a T-shirt that reads "I spent four years at UW-L and all I got was this lousy t-shirt" on the front and on the back it will read: "And a B.A. in History. Would you like fries with that?"

B changed schools and majors or hers would have been exactly the same except the back would read: "And a B.A. in English. May I bring you something from the bar?"

Bryan Blaire
09-12-2008, 09:07 AM
Then there is the opposite issue as well. I work with a gentleman that got his PhD in Plant Pathology outside the US, came here, and is working with my unit on a side project, and frankly, aside from his specific area of study (and I do give his PhD a lot of respect), he doesn't know that much about plant pathology. His PhD could very well be advanced, but his undergrad and Masters classes and research seemed to be very lacking in this department.

Maybe it is just certain areas of science that are more advanced elsewhere. I've found that, overall, biological science research here in the US is still on par or better than around the world, or at least it seems that way.

Gilshalos Sedai
09-12-2008, 09:24 AM
In defense of the humanities degrees, sometimes those people are just not suited to anything else. Like me. I find numbers very difficult to deal with. I deal with them, but I can't do algebra to save my life. I should know, took it four times and got a D each time. (It also took me forever to "get" long division.)

But, I can write and I can tell stories. Perhaps I'll invent the next mythological technology like Warder Cloaks, or Tractor Beams or Transporters that scientist geeks will keep attempting to figure out how to make. My job is to inspire the geeks.

But, I don't believe that everyone who was in my major with me should have been there. Most of them decided on that major because it was easy, or because they liked to read. Neither a really good reason for an English degree.

I was originally going to go to graduate school until I discovered my possibility of employment as a professor was too slim for the amount of debt I'd incur.

JSUCamel
09-12-2008, 10:08 AM
In defense of the humanities degrees, sometimes those people are just not suited to anything else. Like me. I find numbers very difficult to deal with. I deal with them, but I can't do algebra to save my life. I should know, took it four times and got a D each time. (It also took me forever to "get" long division.)

Faulty logic, Gil. Just because you're bad at Math (and a TON of people are), doesn't mean you can't do anything but a humanities degree. You're far more talented and skilled at various things than you think. I bet you're awesome at your job and your boss probably couldn't do much without you, and I know for a fact that your job isn't based on your degree. Your skills contribute to your great work, but you didn't set out to get this job with a B.A. in English.

But, I don't believe that everyone who was in my major with me should have been there. Most of them decided on that major because it was easy, or because they liked to read. Neither a really good reason for an English degree.

Fortunately for them, the reasons why they became an English major doesn't have to be the same as your reasons for being an English major. If they put forth any effort at all, they learned a ton of valuable lessons and skills that they can apply to ANY career -- not just English/journalism/writing ones.

Read on to find out more:

(Warning: Long post, but I encourage everyone to read it all the way through, especially liberal arts majors and business types and managers.)

Liberal arts degrees are bad if you look at them in terms of a career. You won't make a living in an "English" career or a "Drama" career or a "Music" career. It's possible, but the odds are incredibly stacked against you, unless you teach, and even then, professorships are few and far between.

What liberal arts degrees DO provide are opportunities and skills that translate to nearly every job out there. English majors, for example, are (or should be) good at generating ideas, putting them down on paper in an accessible way, transmitting those ideas, offering and accepting criticism, starting and finishing a project, etc.

Let's take Drama (my B.A.) for example. As a drama major, I have acquired the following skills:

1. Oral Communication Skills - working with a team of people to accomplish a goal means having the ability to communicate in clear, concise language, without confusion.

2. Creative Problem Solving Abilities - building scenery, hanging lights, making props, running the show, and so on--is a particularly good way to learn how to think on your feet, to identify problems, evaluate a range of possible solutions, and figure out what to do.

3. More than "get it done" - Theatre students learn that just "getting it done" isn't enough. Not at all. It goes beyond that. You learn to do it correctly. In theatre we learn that merely "getting the show on the boards" is pure bush league and totally unacceptable.

4. Motivation and commitment - In order to show up every night for rehearsals, say the same lines over and over, it takes motivation and commitment to the project.

5. Willingness to work cooperatively - Putting on a play, whether you're a tech or an actor, requires working with others to accomplish this goal. Theatre work is not an individual pursuit -- it requires others to get the job done.

6. Ability to work independently - Having said the above, one is often assigned work that must be completed individually: learning lines, hanging lights, putting together this flat, finding that prop.

7. Time budgeting skills - Put simply, learning an entire script (as an actor, you don't learn just your lines, you have to learn other peoples' lines so you know when it's your turn to speak) in less than 4 weeks. When it comes to opening night, the show must go on, so time management is crucial to a drama major.

8. Initiative - A production requires that people undertake positions and activities that would otherwise not get done. Advertising, marketing, finding props, working with other actors to memorize lines; these things require the participants to take the initiative

9. Promptness and respect for deadlines - I've been in 30 something shows, and every time someone shows up late, they get chewed out. Show up late again once or twice, and they're fired. Being late is simply unacceptable. It slows down the entire group, indicates unprofessionalism, and more importantly, a lack of consideration for others.

10. Acceptance of rules - No talking backstage, no cell phones at rehearsal, etc.

11. The ability to learn quickly AND correctly - Memorizing a script doesn't sound hard, until you realize that you have to memorize it accurately. Legally, you can't paraphrase. Practically, paraphrasing a line might throw off your fellow actors, causing them to miss lines and improvise, which, in turn, leads to more paraphrasing and the entire show goes downhill from there.

12. And much much more - other skills include respect for colleagues (be on time, work as a team), respect for authority (listen to the director, dance captain, etc), adaptability and flexibility (change blocking, lines per director), ability to work under pressure (opening night is next week -- do you know YOUR lines?), a healthy self-image (takes a certain amount of self-esteem and confidence to get on stage in front of hundreds or thousands of people), acceptance of disappointment and ability to bounce back (one word: auditions), self-discipline (a lot of work occurs on your own time), and so much more.

The bottom line: being a theatre major has taught me all of those skills, and more. And for any of you who are management material, ask yourself: what do you look for in an employee?

Answer? All of the above.

I suspect that the above skills also apply to other disciplines, such as music and dance. The skill sets for other liberal arts and humanities such as history, English, et al, are going to be different.

The important thing to realize is that if you get a degree in liberal arts or humanities, don't condemn yourself to a career in that field. Just because you have a degree in History doesn't mean you HAVE to become a history professor or a museum curator. You'll learn enough skills and knowledge that you can do just about anything, if you think about it.

Look at my list of skills that I learned as a drama major. I can literally do just about anything I want to with that skill set.

The problem, of course, lies with convincing employers of that fact.

Consider this: I've been goofing around on computers since I was 10. I've taught myself a little programming -- not much at all. I got to college, learned a little bit more programming -- again, not much. Switched to a drama major, learned all of the above skills (and more). In April, Tam convinced me to learn more about web development. Now, I got a job paying twice what I was making as a teacher. Granted, teachers don't make much so that's not saying a whole lot, but let's just say it's more than I expected to make annually in my life, so.. ;) (Thanks, Tam!)

My skills in theatre (learning quickly, accurately, self-discipline, motivation and dedication, respecting authority, working as a team) have helped me develop my web development knowledge rapidly and completely, to the point where I got a super nice paying job and I'm moving to Chicago next week.

So for you liberal arts majors, keep doing what you're doing. Just remember: a degree in music or theatre translates into other skills, too, such as management, marketing, communications, public relations, etc. Find your strengths within your field (communication, writing, research, etc) and broaden your job search to include jobs that require those skills, not just "music" fields or "theater" fields.

And all of you managers and business types, keep what I said in mind: just because someone has a degree in theater or music or journalism, doesn't mean one can't become a Vice Presidential Nominee... or a web developer.. or a marketer.. or the best employee you've ever hired.

Degrees like accounting prepare you for a limited field (accounting, finance). Medical degrees are pretty much useless, I'd imagine, in any field other than medicine or biological sciences. Fortunately, both of the above fields are in much demand and if you're happy in those fields, you're extremely lucky.

Wow, that was a long post. I'll continue this later.

Ivhon
09-12-2008, 10:51 AM
Nice post Camel


Im saying this as they guy who has THE most useless degree there is.

Gilshalos Sedai
09-12-2008, 12:22 PM
Actually, Camel, I don't need a degree for my job. It utilizes skills I had in high school. Now, my boss may not let me the Jill-of-all-trades I am without the degree, but I really don't need one.


Actually, my teenaged hippy self would disown me and try to change the timeline because I sold my life to an oil company, no matter how ethical and honest it is.

Cary Sedai
09-12-2008, 12:41 PM
Yeah, Camel, nice post. :D

I have no clue what I'll major in. I like history and earth sciences the most. Is there a "Daniel Jackson" course? :p

Crispin's Crispian
09-12-2008, 12:58 PM
Yeah, Camel, nice post. :D

I have no clue what I'll major in. I like history and earth sciences the most. Is there a "Daniel Jackson" course? :p
I transferred from a community college to a private liberal arts college between sophomore and junior year, and I sort of arbitrarily picked biology as my major. I had no idea what I really wanted to do (not sure I do know).

In order to graduate, I had to have a broad liberal arts background, which meant I was still taking "core" courses even after I transferred. It's a fantastic requirement (to which Camel alluded), because I learned all sorts of awesome stuff that had nothing to do with biology. Or, I should say, nothing to do with the pure biological sciences, but everything to do with the world, and how biology as a discipline might impact the world.

Now I'm doing nothing related to biology, and without the liberal arts I wouldn't be here.

Davian93
09-12-2008, 05:44 PM
McCain made an interesting comment on this, saying he would be open to easing restrictions on green cards to anyone holding a PhD or other degree. I think thats an excellent idea. It can even be extended. If you want to curb illegal immigration, all you have to do is make it easier to immigrate legally.

I'm sure foreign gov'ts would absolutely LOVE that. Imagine how easy it would be to slip spies into our R & D programs. Its already brutally difficult to ensure security on such black and gray programs...Do you have any idea how hard it is to clear someone who's foreign born...especially after all the esponiage cases we had in the past 10 years with Chinese scientists because of that very thing.

On foreign PHDs...thanks but no thanks.

tanaww
09-12-2008, 06:25 PM
On foreign PHDs...thanks but no thanks.

Then we need to work toward matching our domestic supply to the domestic demand.

Ivhon
09-12-2008, 06:51 PM
@ Cary

My degree was M.A. Humanities (interdisciplinary studies) with an emphasis on international studies. Its a wonderful degree for learning things. Depending on the institution the field of study can be very broad - as with mine - or very focused, as it would have been at Princeton, say.

I took literature, art, history, religion, and philosophy courses all of which went to my major so long as it wasn't a course on American contributions to those fields. In a more focused program, your field of study might be, say, 18th century France.

I liked mine better. Learned a lot of really interesting stuff that I never would have been exposed to. Then again, my degree has zero professional relevance.

tworiverswoman
09-12-2008, 07:01 PM
But I'm switching my allegiance to the Dromedary ticket.

Very nice stump speech, Camel. :D I'll vote for you!

Davian93
09-12-2008, 09:05 PM
Then we need to work toward matching our domestic supply to the domestic demand.


I agree completely. Bringing in foreigners is the worst mistake we could ever make for such a thing. The fact that McCain thinks it is a good idea shows that he has no clue about what he's talking about. We already have enough security issues for R & D.

Cary Sedai
09-12-2008, 11:00 PM
@ Cary

My degree was M.A. Humanities (interdisciplinary studies) with an emphasis on international studies. Its a wonderful degree for learning things. Depending on the institution the field of study can be very broad - as with mine - or very focused, as it would have been at Princeton, say.

I took literature, art, history, religion, and philosophy courses all of which went to my major so long as it wasn't a course on American contributions to those fields. In a more focused program, your field of study might be, say, 18th century France.

I liked mine better. Learned a lot of really interesting stuff that I never would have been exposed to. Then again, my degree has zero professional relevance.

That is exactly what I want! I want to go to college to learn, everything I absolutely can! I have a serious craving for knowledge. I'd like to teach, and keep taking classes for as long as I can.

Bryan Blaire
09-13-2008, 01:22 AM
The Daniel Jackson curriculum:

4 years of comparative theology
4 years of archeology
8 years of classical civilizations studies combined with courses on the languages those civilizations used

Ozymandias
09-13-2008, 03:51 AM
I'm sure foreign gov'ts would absolutely LOVE that. Imagine how easy it would be to slip spies into our R & D programs. Its already brutally difficult to ensure security on such black and gray programs...Do you have any idea how hard it is to clear someone who's foreign born...especially after all the esponiage cases we had in the past 10 years with Chinese scientists because of that very thing.

On foreign PHDs...thanks but no thanks.

Dav, I think he meant it more in the sense that and Indian person (for example) comes here and gets a degree in something, which would give him a leg up in getting a green card. Not as in "we're gonna make it easy for people to enter the country if they have high level degrees and thats that." Besides... it probably wouldn't be more difficult than it is now. I'm sure if the Chinese want a spy in our Aerospace research programs, they get them in... making it a little easier for all the other innocent, smart people to live and work here is going to provide proportionally more benefit than risk.

Also, Ivhon, what is your major? I think mine (Assyriology) might top yours for title of "Least Valuable Degree" or LVD for short.

Mort
09-13-2008, 05:35 AM
The Daniel Jackson curriculum:

4 years of comparative theology
4 years of archeology
8 years of classical civilizations studies combined with courses on the languages those civilizations used

Hehe :D He has been in the field for a few years also. So I think you can shave off a few years from those 8 or so :)

I'm not exactly sure how we came to be talking about the different degrees everyone has. But I'll take it as an excuse to talk about my future degree :)

In the spring I'm hopefully gonna be done with my Master in Cognitive Science. The school system here is a little different (we switched to a Bachelor/master thingy only two years ago, I'm still on the old system). I do 4 years of cognitive science which would be something in between a bachelor and a master.
Cognitive Science for those who doesn't know is all about how humans think so to speak. My focus is gonna be a little less cloudy, Interaction Design. I design for usability in products, systems, websites etc.

Ivhon
09-13-2008, 08:15 AM
Dav, I think he meant it more in the sense that and Indian person (for example) comes here and gets a degree in something, which would give him a leg up in getting a green card. Not as in "we're gonna make it easy for people to enter the country if they have high level degrees and thats that." Besides... it probably wouldn't be more difficult than it is now. I'm sure if the Chinese want a spy in our Aerospace research programs, they get them in... making it a little easier for all the other innocent, smart people to live and work here is going to provide proportionally more benefit than risk.

Also, Ivhon, what is your major? I think mine (Assyriology) might top yours for title of "Least Valuable Degree" or LVD for short.

BA - Humanities: International studies. And while yours comes close to LVD, it doesnt take the prize.

Neither of us have a credential beyond "Bachelor's Degree." Both of us have degrees in subjects that are not taught in high school. So we can't teach (without going back to school, etc.). Difference is - and what makes mine more useless - the narrow focus of your degree combined with its relative obscurity makes you a default expert on Assyria. Which means that the CIA can hire you for absurd amounts of money to work on some go-nowhere project that pushes there budget over the top so that they can be assured of even more money next year. My degree made me passingly familiar with a few things that have happened/were written/were pained here and there. So Im not an expert on anything which means I dont even qualify for the budget draining CIA job.

Gratz

tanaww
09-13-2008, 12:47 PM
Sorry, no military.

Sorry to burst your bubble but with an Aerospace degree you'll either be working for the military or for a defense contractor. Might as well at least consider an AFROTC scholarship which is full ride plus for your entire education. Then you give them four years for which they pay you.

Frenzy
09-13-2008, 01:04 PM
Want a gross oversimplification of the problem?

1) Elementary Education standards are set by government committees who are lobbied by activist groups who want their stuff put into the curriculum. Armenian History is in the California State Standards. No offense to any Armenians (except Serj Tankian :p), but please. How do i know this? Because one of the projects i'm currently working on is lobbying to include environmental models into elementary & secondary curriculum.

2) California has a high school exit exam. Great idea, but to pass that exam you have to demonstrate English (the subject, not the language) skills at a 10th grade level, and math/algebra skills at an 8th grade level. To get a 12th grade diploma. Obviously whoever made up THAT pile of crap doesn't understand 1st grade math.

Oh, and only 90% of high school seniors are passing that exam. And it isn't just the poor and non-native speakers who are failing.

JSUCamel
09-13-2008, 02:03 PM
Alabama just recently (in the past five years or so) raised the graduation exam to 10th grade level subject matter. Prior to that, it was 8th grade across the board.

I'm not sure how that adds up, exactly, but... *shrug*

Dorindha
09-13-2008, 08:58 PM
Bryan - this is a bit of a side question, but what is your job?

Davian93
09-13-2008, 09:45 PM
Sorry to burst your bubble but with an Aerospace degree you'll either be working for the military or for a defense contractor. Might as well at least consider an AFROTC scholarship which is full ride plus for your entire education. Then you give them four years for which they pay you.

That or NASA...not much variety out there...the Defense Contractor community is pretty inbred for that type of thing...not alot of options.

Cary Sedai
09-14-2008, 11:08 AM
The Daniel Jackson curriculum:

4 years of comparative theology
4 years of archeology
8 years of classical civilizations studies combined with courses on the languages those civilizations used


That works for me! :D
I suppose I'll add in child development classes and general studies so I can teach elementary school while still going to college.

tanaww
09-14-2008, 07:34 PM
That or NASA...not much variety out there...the Defense Contractor community is pretty inbred for that type of thing...not alot of options.

I think that trying to delineate NASA froim the Air Force or the Navy is merely semantics. All those folks come from one branch of service or the other.

Ozymandias
09-14-2008, 09:45 PM
Hahaha Ivhon... what precisely do you think Assyriology is? Somehow I don't think the CIA is interested in a subject that deals with an empire thats been dead for 2604 years... I suppose language skills (French, German, English, Arabic) would be useful... but I need to learn them more in an academic context than in a native speaker sense.

Yuri33
09-15-2008, 02:54 AM
Degrees like accounting prepare you for a limited field (accounting, finance). Medical degrees are pretty much useless, I'd imagine, in any field other than medicine or biological sciences. Fortunately, both of the above fields are in much demand and if you're happy in those fields, you're extremely lucky.

It seems to me you are implying that professional degrees such as medicine and accounting do not require you to learn those 12 skills you so thoroughly outlined in your post, and therefore are "pretty much useless" outside their respective fields. Professional programs go well beyond specialized knowledge--they force you to apply critical thinking and organizational skills in order to use that knowledge in real-world settings. In fact, I can easily cite many individuals who earned a professional degree and went on to careers unrelated to those professions, largely because they mastered many of those skills during their training. The skills you listed are important, and to me, fall under the category of "life skills," of which no particular program, Liberal Arts or not, has a monopoly on. Get a job, even flipping burgers at McDonalds, and you'll have to learn many of the skills you listed.

A choice to pursue a professional degree isn't simply a case of getting "lucky," it represents the idea that you have already learned many of the skills you listed at the undergrad level, and are ready to refine them and combine them with more specific knowledge in order to succeed in a specific discipline. Speaking from experience, I had to convince medical schools that I already possessed the skills you listed to even be considered for acceptance in the first place.

I think you'd be quite pleased with the admittance rate for theater majors into medical school. In fact, Biology and Psychology majors have the lowest acceptance rates into medical school, largely because many people think you simply need to have specialized knowledge to get in. The truth of the matter is that you have to convince these institutions that you have learned how to think for yourself, and they care little of where or what you did to accomplish that. I think that applies to job-seeking in general as well.

So bravo to theater majors and other Liberal Arts degree-holders. You certainly had to learn some important skills to succeed. Just remember that engineers, accountants, lawyers and doctors all had to learn many of those same skills to get a job as well.

Ozymandias
09-15-2008, 03:15 AM
It seems to me you are implying that professional degrees such as medicine and accounting do not require you to learn those 12 skills you so thoroughly outlined in your post, and therefore are "pretty much useless" outside their respective fields. Professional programs go well beyond specialized knowledge--they force you to apply critical thinking and organizational skills in order to use that knowledge in real-world settings. In fact, I can easily cite many individuals who earned a professional degree and went on to careers unrelated to those professions, largely because they mastered many of those skills during their training. The skills you listed are important, and to me, fall under the category of "life skills," of which no particular program, Liberal Arts or not, has a monopoly on. Get a job, even flipping burgers at McDonalds, and you'll have to learn many of the skills you listed.

A choice to pursue a professional degree isn't simply a case of getting "lucky," it represents the idea that you have already learned many of the skills you listed at the undergrad level, and are ready to refine them and combine them with more specific knowledge in order to succeed in a specific discipline. Speaking from experience, I had to convince medical schools that I already possessed the skills you listed to even be considered for acceptance in the first place.

I think you'd be quite pleased with the admittance rate for theater majors into medical school. In fact, Biology and Psychology majors have the lowest acceptance rates into medical school, largely because many people think you simply need to have specialized knowledge to get in. The truth of the matter is that you have to convince these institutions that you have learned how to think for yourself, and they care little of where or what you did to accomplish that. I think that applies to job-seeking in general as well.

So bravo to theater majors and other Liberal Arts degree-holders. You certainly had to learn some important skills to succeed. Just remember that engineers, accountants, lawyers and doctors all had to learn many of those same skills to get a job as well.

I think his point is that there is a perception that many Liberal Arts majors DON'T teach those skills, and don't impart any specific career-oriented knowledge either. Which isn't true.

And by the way, I know a LOT of friends in very good business, engineering, and pre-Medical schools, and almost all of them are noticeably less efficient in translating their ideas to paper in a coherent and logical form, and many of them are also not particularly good public speakers... obviously cant be applied as a blanket statement to all professional students, but I find liberal arts students are much better at expressing themselves in almost all mediums.

yks 6nnetu hing
09-15-2008, 07:32 AM
"do whatever you want but be prepared to pay the price"

goddamn whiny bastards... If you can't hack it In Real Life after society has provided you with an opportunity for education then it's your own fault. End point.

yes, yes, I'm one of those liberal-arts majors too, studied history and was at the time very well aware that it would probably not be all that good for my work prospects later on. But so what? I got my B.A. which was all I wanted (meh, I could have gone on but the whole prospect seemed to just postpone the inevitable) and which would give me a little leg-up on the job market - right ahead of the high-school dropouts.

Of course it's all about money. You can't live without a certain amount of money and if you happen to sell your soul for getting it then I'm sorry but that's your own choice. If you can't make peace with that fact then... well then I'm surprised that you haven't become a mass murderer yet. In essence we all sell parts of ourselves to our employers and it is necessary to make it clear in your own mind how much of yourself you are willing to sell for how much money.

In truth, we are all egoists, we do what makes us happy/feel good, either in the long run or in the short run, depends on the person. And it IS a balancing act between what you want to do and what you need to do in order to do what you want to do.

As for lobbyists... well, they get money for what they do, if they didn't get money for it, they wouldn't do it (or would do it to much less extent and damage). same goes for research - I mean, of course it's warm and fuzzy that people do obscure research projects that leave them nowhere after 10 years and 2 toes lost to frostbite ("Friends" reference, who caught it?), but projects that get funded are USUALLY also beneficial for the community as a whole, therefore it's possible to later on make the community pay up for the invested money. Case in point: cancer research, vaccines, genetic engineering, architecture, material sciences, electronics, IT etcetc... Anything that has (eventual) practical value.

The good and bad thing is that nowadays there are so many people in the world that a portion of them can almost certainly be convinced that they want to put money into improving that new tractor model or the musical that will be the next "Cats".

So stop whining and decide what you wan from your life. And then do whatever you want but be willing to pay the price.

JSUCamel
09-15-2008, 08:55 AM
I think his point is that there is a perception that many Liberal Arts majors DON'T teach those skills, and don't impart any specific career-oriented knowledge either. Which isn't true.

Yes, exactly.

If you get a degree in accounting, you're setting yourself up for an almost guaranteed CAREER in Accounting. If you get a degree in paralegal studies, you're setting yourself up for an almost guaranteed CAREER as a paralegal. Get a degree in Education, you're setting yourself up for a CAREER in Education.

Yes, you can certainly find jobs elsewhere, and you certainly learn a lot of the skills I mentioned, but you're training for a very specific purpose (teaching, taxes, law, etc).

With a liberal arts degree, you're not training for a CAREER, you're training for OPPORTUNITIES, which I feel is a completely different matter. It is far more challenging for a Liberal Arts major to find a job, because they have to convince employers that, even though they don't have a degree in Marketing or Public Relations or Computer Science or what-have-you, that the skills they learned in school as a Drama major (me) or an English major (Tam, Gil), or a history major (RS, SBX) are valuable skills that this employer desires.

I can't tell you how many jobs that I applied for that I am either perfectly or OVER qualified for, in terms of skills or ability, but I didn't get the job because I didn't have a degree in Computer Science or Marketing or Public Relations.

So, yes, I would venture to say that 95% of all accountants have a degree in Accounting or similar math major or equivalent years of experience. It would be much harder for someone with, say, a degree in English to get a job as an accountant.

The trick is to show employers that Liberal Arts degrees teach a LOT of valuable skills that EVERY employer wants. Okay, so I can barely balance a checkbook. I can, however, learn vast amounts of knowledge in a relatively short period of time (thanks, theater training!), I show up on time every day, I'm dedicated and motivated, I'm easily able to follow instructions, yet take responsibility for individual projects. Given a few weeks training, I can do whatever you want.

That sounds a little arrogant, I suppose, but it's true. Give me a few weeks, and I'll be as good, if not better, as half the entry-level workers you're looking at hiring anyway.

yks, I'm not sure where you got your little rant from. I'm certainly not whining. I've worked hard to turn my liberal arts degree into something useful, and I don't regret getting a B.A. in Theater. It's made me more ready to deal with The Real World than anything I could've done before. This, I firmly believe.

The trick to being a liberal arts major is to NOT think that you deserve a job in your field. Essentially, as Gil and others have learned, unless you want to become a teacher in that field (which is generally highly competitive at the college level), you're probably NOT going to find a job in whatever art field you studied, whether theatre, English or music. If you do find such a job, congratulations, you beat the odds.

The true tragedy lies in people who refuse to look for jobs outside whatever art they chose. I have friends who are living out of their cars trying to find jobs as actors, refusing to get a regular 9-5 job to pay the bills. That's not cool. Starving yourself for your art may sound romantic, but that doesnt make you a better artist.

The key to finding a job with a Liberal Arts degree is to look at what you ARE good at, and find jobs and fields that use those talents to your advantage. For example, I'm fortunate in that I'm pretty good at math and science and logic type things, so I went back to computer science related work. Now I'm a web developer. Gil, on the other hand, can barely balance her checkbook (iirc), so doing something like accounting probably isn't a great idea. She is, however, great at reading, writing, criticism, analysis, editing, etc. She could probably find a decent job in a marketing department creating advertisements and the copy (text) that goes along with it. Ivhon has a completely useless degree, but iirc, he's utilized his abilities at public speaking and communication to turn that into a career as a corporate trainer.

My (crazy) ex is a music major, and she's completely stuck on this idea that she has a degree in Music Education and considers it to be useless. I tried explaining to her that it's very useful and taught her a lot of skills, but she's still trying to find a job as a musician. Good luck. (Barring a stroke of good fortune, it ain't gonna happen.) She could, however, become a great box-office manager, customer service manager, public relations manager, etc. She's got those kinds of skills.

Don't think of your major as the ONLY field you can get a job in -- it's simply not true.

To B and the other Liberal Arts majors here, good luck. :)

yks 6nnetu hing
09-15-2008, 10:52 AM
not you, Camel, I don't remember any more who it was who blamed the society/system of education for the "US 2nd rate" bahdiblahdiblah.

Yes, I get upset. Not at the person saying that but at the implication that society is to blame for an individual's choises in life.

There are two sides to every coin. For example, as pointed out here, Europe is becoming a hotspot for science and innovation. This is because there's money spent on these areas. Which is because different EU countries and the EU as a whole is as a whole more "socialist" than the US. Maybe a bit more "feel-good"...

an example of that is Sweden: Life is good there, education is available to anyone who shows the least bit of interest and the competitiveness of the Swedish education system internationally is very high. This is thanks to the solid and worked-in system or social welfare, relatively high taxes and other "pinko" (to Americans, at least, I guess. To those who actually know the "red", Sweden is capitalist heaven) ideas. BUT this system also allows Swedish kids to finish high school, sign up to welfare and never work a day in their life while whining about the small amount of welfare.

I actually know a person who does that and says that she has friends just like that too. Not everyone, of course. The majority does become "a part of the work force", obviously... so it is a minority that I'm upset at, or rather, it's the possibility of that minority that I'm upset at.

ultimately it's a person's own choice where they decide to spend their efforts, society can only encourage and enable. So in my opinion, individuals are not entitled to complain when society has done enough for them and society is not entitled to complain when it hasn't given enough incentives for individuals to do their best.