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Kelly27's avatar

For those of you who are currently attending or plan to attend college, do you find it a little discouraging to hear people say how pointless their degree was?

Asked by Kelly27 (1466 points ) April 22nd, 2009
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40 Answers

Les's avatar

Not really. It is a personal prerogative. I’m in grad school, and despite my feelings of grad school (don’t get me started), I don’t think anything I learned in college was “pointless”. I took art history, philosophy, drama and I was a meteorology major. But some of my friends in the same major hated taking their gen eds. They thought it was pointless.

Some people refuse to look hard to see why they are are doing what they are doing. My best friend was a Coms major (what I have heard countless people call a “pointless” major). But she is successful and happy in her career now, and I doubt she would call it pointless. Its all in what you make it.

cwilbur's avatar

I’m using very little of what I learned in my college classes, so if you look at college as a means to a degree, it was a waste of time. But it was also one of the major contributing factors to who I am today, so in that sense it was one of the most valuable things I have ever done.

Facade's avatar

It’s not discouraging. It confirms my idea that college is just a way for the government to suck out money, and that it can be incredibly useless.

TheRocketPig's avatar

@cwilbur I totally agree, you most certainly grow as a person in college and for that I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I also just had a conversation with one of my students about this same thing yesterday. College is what you make out of it. I wouldn’t expect to just go to college and somehow during your time there you walk out being perfectly ready to do the job you wanted to do going in. College is about 20% instruction 80% self motivation and self study. (at least it was for me and most people I know) So if you have a drive to use the knowledge that’s there and available to you at the college (facilities to work in, teachers to talk to and pick the brains of, etc.) you’ll do well and feel like you got your “money’s worth”.

Secondly, many people I knew in college picked majors that didn’t fit what they wanted to do in life. For instance I have a friend who was a humanities major that didn’t want to eventually teach or write books. Thus, he didn’t do anything with his degree and now works in retail. That being said I have a friend who went to college for computer animation, now he works at Industrial Light and Magic. You get out of college what you put into college.

casheroo's avatar

It’s not discouraging to me, because I already feel that college is a necessary evil. Not everyone utilizes their specific degree, but they have a degree nonetheless, which means they’d get a job over me..so when they say it’s pointless, then they apparently don’t have a job at all.
Lucky for me, I’m getting into the medical field, so a degree is vital and necessary. It won’t be pointless at all.

MissAnthrope's avatar

It’s more than a little discouraging. Actually, I’m in my junior year, and it’s become crystal clear that my B.S. won’t get me very far in my field. It’s a hell of a lot of work for a paper that’s basically the equivalent of a high school diploma these days.

Les's avatar

@AlenaD : I’m getting a Master’s degree, and I’m basically no more qualified now that I was out of high school. How’s that for discouraging?

MissAnthrope's avatar

Les – Very. :(

sevenfourteen's avatar

My major will never be “pointless” because I’m going to school for occupational therapy. I think it all depends on a. what type of degree it is b. is it health sci, communcations, business, libral arts etc and c. how specific it is. If you pick something specific like I did you’ll have no problem finding jobs, but what people find is they don’t like it and just become “undeclared” or pick up a major like history/math.. Not that I’m knocking those majors So it’s almost a vicious cycle that for it it not to be pointless you have to pick something specific, but if you find out you don’t like it it’s too hard to switch out.

@TheRocketPig – It’s sooo true that it’s 20% instruction 80% motivation/self study. It helps to seperate people though, and to see if you’re really happy w/what you’re doing

qashqai's avatar

I am not attending nor planning to go to college. I did it. And I can say that a degree is not pointless. If you study hard and actually put passion in learning, then university years will be unforgettable, and very rewarding for your future.

It’s not only what you learn, it’s the way you will start to solve complex problems that you will be using at your advantage throughout your entire life.

RedPowerLady's avatar

When I was in college I was part of several programs to help people survive in college and to help recruit high school students to college. Not so much recruit as tell them how it is possible for them.

When I graduated i had the hardest time finding a job and became really frustrated that my degree wasn’t helping me out.

Now I am of the belief that people should do what feels best to them. Live life and enjoy it. If you are discouraged by the fact that degrees don’t help all people you do have choices. You can go to a trade school. You can make sure to choose a major that’ll get you a good job or open doors for you. You can choose to go to college for the general education and experience of it. You can take a year off and identify your goals. You can go immediately into the workforce and that may help you identify areas where you would like to get educated. Find what works for you and go with it. That is really the only way to be happy in your choice. Don’t do it because it is “right” or because everyone else is doing it etc… I am very proud of myself for graduating college and at the same time I can imagine a great life without it.

Edit. I also want to add that what @AlenaD said is very true. Before you choose a major see what having a B.S./B.A. in it means. For many majors it means similar to a HS Diploma and they require a ton more education. If that is what you plan on doing then great. Just don’t go into it not knowing. I also agree with what @Gashgai says.
It is the experience of college that is rewarding and quite helpful. It brings about a whole new level of critical thinking that is quite amazing.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

A degree isn’t some magically gateway to the land of financial Shangi-La. You have to apply what you’ve learned.

If you don’t do that, all you have is a piece of paper on the wall from the university.

A degree is only useless if you let it be useless.

Judi's avatar

Speaking as someone who never finished college….. That degree is so important! Many employers won’t even talk to you without a degree. It doesn’t matter if it is in underwater basket weaving, if you have a degree it will open doors. It is often the first cut in deciding who to interview.

IBERnineD's avatar

My friend’s mother never went to college and the other week we were visiting and she said, “So how much do you think you could be paid getting right out of college?” her daughter, “about $35,000 a year.” Her mother says, “Oh ok, that’s interesting I never went to college and I make about &100,000 a year.”
So yes it is very discouraging. Especially considering all I want to do is open a cupcake shop and you don’t really need a degree to do that, although it’s nice that I will have something to fall back on.

Judi's avatar

Hey, I make more money now (because of wise investments, not from a pay check.) But if you add up all the money I made from 18–40 I probably would have made more in ten years with a college degree.

Kelly27's avatar

@Judi You make a great point, investing is most definitely the way to go, even if it is only a little bit that you can invest at a time.

Kelly27's avatar

@Everyone Thanks for all the great answers. :)

adreamofautumn's avatar

I’m not discouraged…I knew going in that what would be most meaningful to me as a student in terms of what I have learned would never pan out to be even kind of useful. I also know that the degree itself will be useful for getting into grad school which will be useful in getting a future job. In the meantime I have learned some incredible stuff over the years that will never matter in the “real world” but I loved learning just for the sake of learning, and I have 5 years of incredible friendships, memories and experiences of being in college which is worth its weight in gold in my opinion.

hearkat's avatar

If anything, it should show you how important it is to pursue the best degree for you. When I first went to college, I majored in Psychology. It didn’t take me long to realize that it was not a good career for me… but I had no other ideas so I stuck with it. I became miserably depressed and dropped out.

After working clerical jobs for a year, I knew I didn’t want that for a career, so I went to my local Community College and got my Associates Degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Psychology, since all my credits transferred. By doing this, I got the ‘core’ courses out of the way for less money, and I used the college’s resources to investigate careers and took some electives that seemed inetersting.

That led me to transfer into a Speech-Language Pathology program. Again, it took me very little time to realize it wasn’t a good fit for me. I still stuck with it because there was no Plan B. The next semester, I took the required Audiology course, and on the first day, I knew I had found the right fit.

I was nearly 23 years old by then, and had never heard of Audiology before. While I was stressed about not knowing what to do for so long, I do not regret it. I finished my Bachelors in Speech then got my Masters in Audiology (which was the requirement then… now it is a Doctorate). I’ve been in the field for 17 years now, and I still enjoy it.

So the moral of the story is to choose a major and a career that really suits your personality and talents. Don’t pick based on what your parents want, what your bff or sweetheart is doing, or what has the highest salary. If you don’t enjoy and feel fulfilled by what you do, it becomes a chore – regardless of the degree you have or the size of your paycheck.

Invest the time in getting to know yourself, and what really drives and inspires you… and find your true vocation. Good luck (I know it’s not easy because my son is about to graduate H.S. and is totally clueless about what to to next).

YARNLADY's avatar

I think that it is easy to get a degree without actually learning anything, and to that person, it is pointless. They wasted their time in college.

lisaj89's avatar

No, I feel pretty secure about my future. I chose accounting and finance because many say there is no limit on it. However, I do intend on getting my masters after I graduate just to be on the safe side. If all depends on which major you choose right now. Obviously businesses are unable to keep positions which are not top priority because of the economy ,so one must choose wisely.

cwilbur's avatar

@YARNLADY: It’s also possible to get a degree, learn a great deal, and nevertheless use very little of it in your profession or career. Whether this is pointless or not depends on what you consider the point of college to be.

YARNLADY's avatar

@cwilbur These attributes are found in a successful college graduate:
A college degree helps develop thinking, communication and decision-making skills that will be useful both on and off the job.
explore and develop interests, discover new areas of knowledge, consider lifelong goals and become a well-informed, responsible citizen.
It serves as the gateway to better options and more opportunity.
stimulation encourages them to think, ask questions, and explore new ideas, which allows for additional growth and development and provides college graduates with an edge in the job market
If the college graduate does not learn these skills, they have wasted their time.

Horus515's avatar

I’m not sure why someone would say that. I could see if maybe they aren’t using what their degree is for but even then it helps immensely. They probably don’t realize how much worse off they would be without it. I’m not using my degree exactly but it got me in the door at a pretty high paying job doing similiar work. The stuff I learned to get my degree I never actually use in my day to day.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Horus515 Well for myself I was declined several jobs for being overqualified. Yet my degree isn’t high enough to qualify me in my field. So how is it useful?? In fact I am in a job now and was trained by someone who did not have a degree. I’m thankful to have it. Also now I am paying tons of money back for student loans, for this degree that is not helping me one bit.

This is not to underscore the advantages of going to a University. But just to point out how a degree can in fact be useless.

Horus515's avatar

@RedPowerLady

Well I guess you demonstrated how it CAN be useless. I’m curious what your degree is in. Sometimes that matters alot. If its in psych i can really see what you mean. With a business degree its usually a foot in the door no matter where you go. I’ve never been told I was overqualified just for having my degree. I think that would piss me off, lol.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Horus515 I have a degree in Psychology. Haha.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I have had managers whose sole qualification was a college degree. Their lack of experience in the actual job (and of those below their position) was frustrating as hell. I think our reliance on that piece of paper is a bit ridiculous. You’ve been stuck in school for 4+ years learning ideas, but no practical experience. While getting a degree may aid in problem solving, broadening of the scope of ideas you’re exposed to, and garnering some knowledge in different areas, it in no way replaces actual experience.

It’s ridiculous when I could be a better manager than my manager with a degree. I think employers should equally weigh on-the-job experience.. I know I would rather hire someone who’s been working in the field for 5 years over someone who has no experience whatsoever.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Horus515 Wish you would’ve told me before I spent money to get that degree, haha.

Horus515's avatar

@RedPowerLady

I went to Baylor and had a buddy who got a degree in psychology and he told me once, “This degree is fairly worthless unless I go all the way with it.” So he stayed in school forever getting his doctorate. Now he teaches psychology!!

Judi's avatar

A degree in psychology will get you an interview for an entry level government job.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Horus515 Yes everyone keeps trying to convince me to go farther with my degree. Thing is I don’t want more debt. So right now I’m content living my lowly existence as is, lol. I think I will get a higher degree in the future. Good for your friend for going all the way with it!!

Horus515's avatar

@Judi

This topic is filled with inferential coincidences, if thats even the right term. I work for the government!!

Judi's avatar

I could not even get an interview with the government regardless of my vast experience. I would love to work for the city, county, or state as a fair housing specialist. I have 20+ years of experience in residential property management and have taught classes, taken tons of seminars and am respected in the field as an expert, but I couldn’t even get an interview because I don’t have a degree. That degree has value, even if it’s i psychology, photography, or pottery.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Judi but I couldn’t get many jobs because I have a degree

double edged sword

perhaps it is simply the economy that is the culprit

cwilbur's avatar

No, it was like that in better times too. There are usually so many applicants for a job that some of the criteria that are used to determine whether to hire someone are completely arbitrary—especially in bureaucracies, which prefer objective criteria anyway.

It’s a lot easier to say “Does this person have a college degree? No!” and toss the résumé than it is to examine the résumé in depth to determine if the candidate has equivalent useful experience—especially if you might have to defend your decision. If it’s common practice in the organization, saying “I declined to interview her because she did not have a degree” is safe.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@cwilbur Just to give you a little heart. I was on a few interview committees at the University level (all sorts of jobs from student to assistant vice provost). One committee working alongside us (we were hiring for two positions) fought tooth and nail to remove the necessity of a Master’s Degree. They wanted to hire on qualifications and not arbitrary standards. They won. Things are changing in some areas but very slowly.

veronasgirl's avatar

I think it is slightly discouraging, but I know that every person’s experiences and degrees are different. All I can do is try my best in school and then try my hardest to get a job in my field. But I don’t think there will ever come a time when I will think of my degree as pointless.

likipie's avatar

No because I don’t know anyone who went to school for the same thing I want to so when they say their degree is useless, I’m not discouraged at all. And I have an almost guaranteed job position when I get done with college, so I’m pretty much good.

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