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Rebuttal to Yahoo's "Useless College Majors"

Dave_BerryDave_Berry CC Admissions Expert Posts: 2,371 Senior Member
edited January 2012 in Parents Forum
"Sometimes a story comes across my desk that demands a response.

This week a Yahoo blogger posted 'College Majors That Are Useless,' with agriculture topping the list of five majors, followed by horticulture and animal science.


While I'm hesitant to give the list more credibility than it deserves -- it's based almost entirely on U.S. Labor Department projections and one author's opinions -- this blog post is so far off base it has to be refuted. ..."

FYI, the "useless" majors are:

#1 - Agriculture

#2 - Fashion Design

#3 - Theater

#4 - Animal Science

#5 - Horticulture

The Yahoo article:

College Majors That Are Useless - Yahoo! Education

The rebuttal regarding majors 1,4,and 5:

Allen S. Levine: Yahoo's 'College Majors That Are Useless'... Really?
Post edited by Dave_Berry on

Replies to: Rebuttal to Yahoo's "Useless College Majors"

  • bovertinebovertine Registered User Posts: 3,303 Senior Member
    THe way things have been going lately, if I were affiliated in any way with Yahoo I might be careful about labeling anything useless.
  • MarianMarian Registered User Posts: 12,623 Senior Member
    Animal Science is a popular major among preveterinary students because it provides opportunities for practical experience working with large animals that they would not get in a Biology major or in an internship or job with a small animal veterinary practice.

    But the major can be a problem if the student does not get into veterinary school because many preveterinary students are not interested in other careers (such as dairy farming) for which the Animal Science major would provide preparation.
  • IthacaKidIthacaKid Registered User Posts: 324 Member
    I like that he doesn't even try to refute the claims against fashion design and theater, can we agree with yahoo on those two?
  • Davidabb84Davidabb84 - Posts: 1,355 Senior Member
    I take extreme offense to the insinuation that a major in TheatRE is useless. And it's reasoning is just idiotic. First, it ignores the fact that employment is show-to-show, so of course employment statistics at any ONE time will be low. And it claims that there are no non-acting uses for the major, so they'll be stuck "waiting tables," which is a complete falsehood.

    Second, it lumps ALL theatre majors, be they actors, directors, or design/tech, into ONE category, which also ignores the fact that for non-actors, especially people whose expertise is lights, sound, design, or stage management, there are MANY non-theatre related applications for their training. They can find work at concerts, public speaking engagements, conventions, etc. Yet the article only elected to list directly theatre-related employment. Not to mention that the theatre major itself isn't just a launch into acting, but also law school or ANY career that involves public speaking.
  • DonnaLDonnaL Registered User Posts: 4,991 Senior Member
    Animal Science is a popular major among preveterinary students because it provides opportunities for practical experience working with large animals that they would not get in a Biology major or in an internship or job with a small animal veterinary practice.

    And don't forget that Rick Perry majored in Animal Science at Texas A&M. So it can also be a path to political glory.
  • bclintonkbclintonk Registered User Posts: 7,337 Senior Member
    IthacaKid wrote:
    I like that he doesn't even try to refute the claims against fashion design and theater, can we agree with yahoo on those two?

    Well, notice that the guy doing the rebutting is Dean of the College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota. So he wrote about three fields he knows something about---agriculture, animal science, and horticultural science--and didn't shoot off his mouth about fields he doesn't know anything about (fashion design, theater). Which is better than can be said for the author of the Yahoo blog.

    I don't know anything about fashion design, but I do know a lot of people in theater, including some who manage to make a decent living at it--along with many more who struggle. I don't know a single one of them who went into it under the illusion that it would give them a large income or steady work. They do it out of passion for theater. And thank God there are such souls among us; our lives are so much richer for it. You could say the same thing about any of the creative arts: writing, music, visual arts, whatever. How bleak would our lives be without the arts? Yet none of those fields promises steady work or a handsome income right out of college, and frankly most people who try to make a living at it won't succeed. Is that "useless"? I think of it as an expression of our noblest aspirations, and perhaps our highest calling as humans. We are the only species, so far as I know, that makes art in an effort to beautify, explain, and find meaning in the world around us, and in our place in it. When I see a great play, or read a great novel, or hear a great musical performance, or see a great painting, I am sometimes moved to tears in gratitude for what the artist has given me. But I also want to stand and applaud all those who tried and gave it their all but did not make it to that highest rung, because I truly believe that great art emerges only out of the efforts of the broader community of artists.
  • paying3tuitionspaying3tuitions Registered User Posts: 13,330 Senior Member
    Under Animal Science, the author calls a 13% increase "not so discouraging" (# of jobs in the next 10 years). And yet, under Theater, author notes an 11% increase and is silent on that statistic. Of course the competition is the issue, but there is still a job increase anticipated. Does that mean the major is "useless"? It's a very difficult field, not an impossible field.

    As for "rejection" every working actor knows it is just overhead. They can expect to audition for 9 roles to get 1 callback. So what?
  • sryrstresssryrstress Registered User Posts: 2,368 Senior Member
    I know nothing about theater/re and fashion, so will leave that alone.

    In my little bubble of ag-land, the article has generated lots of heat, and lead to better written and researched articles being posted by ag teachers. Again, I'm in Cornfieldland, but my clients in ag have consistently been making money when most others are not. I also am on newsletter lists, etc. from Purdue and others. I think the future for ag majors looks bright, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to an interested student.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 25,812 Senior Member
    All I could think was that here was another city-boy who has no idea where food comes from.
  • rpraderiorpraderio Registered User Posts: 112 Junior Member
    Let it be known that the theater industry is in desperate need of design/tech students. Performance will always be a competitive field but if you're good enough you'll find work. I'm not about to let Yahoo discredit mah field.

    Sent from my DROIDX using CC App
  • CelebratedCelebrated Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    I agree with bovertine! Yahoo is in no position to say which degrees are useless when the majority of its featured articles are about the Kardashians.
  • glidoglido Registered User Posts: 5,785 Senior Member
    Theatre majors can also be lawyers and politicians ;)
  • Dramaqueen4jesusDramaqueen4jesus Registered User Posts: 80 Junior Member
    I think the whole idea behind this list is untrue. Who says that you necessarily have to go into the field you major in? For example, I have several friends who majored in acting and are now working great jobs. One founded a Non Profit, one teaches at a university, and one has a big position at a large corporation. A theatre major was an excellent foundation for all of my friends. They learned important skills like communication, imagination, team work, literary analysis, attention to detail, and developed a strong work ethic.

    Perhaps I am biased because I plan to major in theatre as well, but I think that life after college is determined by more than your major. If you apply yourself, I think the possibilities are endless as to what type of career you can go into. In my mind, true education is never worthless.
  • zoeydoggiezoeydoggie Registered User Posts: 645 Member
    My H has a PhD in Animal Science. USDA is getting a good laugh out of this because, as was said earlier, we all have to eat.
  • starbrightstarbright Registered User Posts: 4,660 Senior Member
    Some university majors are closer to vocational training and specifically tied to an occupation; the vast majority are not. It is sad that as the economy tanks, the shift is moving toward vocational training at the expense of education for its own sake, deeming a 'mere' education as something you should just do as a hobby and not pay tuition for.

    The reality in the real work world, although a university education is often necessary for good paying careers, *most* adults work in occupations that are not at all tied to their university major.

    I ask any working adult to look around them at work. Look at the multitude of occupations people hold in your industry. Most are not fitting a tidy label called "engineer", "investment banker", "lawyer" or "doctor". For some strange reason, its as if we all block out 95% of the careers out there and ignore the fact that those in them did not major in something "useful".
This discussion has been closed.