Working with teenagers is always a hoot. It starts with the dramatic personal drama that they are convinced with define their love lives for the next 60 years to the algebra project they are freaking out over because they think one bad grade means no college will want them. What’s not so funny is a teenager struggling to identify what direction they want to head with their education. There was once a day when if you had any 4 year degree, you were promised a higher-level job. That soon gave way to the promise that any given 4 year degree would promise you “a” job. With 53% of new college graduates being out of a job, a 4-year degree doesn’t promise anything in and of itself and what college degree becomes increasingly important.
In a recent article in the Technician, Associate Professor Stephen Greene in political science answers questions from students ranging from personal issues to questions about their academic future. This article in particular featured a question from a concerned freshmen who had entered college like so many other high school teenagers without knowing what major they wanted to pick. Obviously the question begins to come down to the age-old struggle between passion and practicality. This is what Dr. Greene said…
Honestly, in this current job and economic climate I think it would be foolish to not at least strongly consider the employment prospects of one’s chosen major. That said, employment means doing something at least 40 hours/week for many, many years.
He went on to say…
That said, if you choose a more passion-based major, you really need to invest your passion in it because it probably will not be as easy to find a job as if you had a mechanical engineering degree. Don’t take classes because you were told they were easy. Take them because they have a great professor who will challenge you to think and learn in new ways.
Bingo. The name of the game isn’t convincing everyone that if you aren’t an engineer, you won’t get a job. In fact, many non-engineering programs at State have specialized career departments that have very good reputations for job placement after completion of a degree (like the College of Textiles).
The one thing that hasn’t changed over the years is the implications of hard work. When I completed my undergraduate degree I was, shall we say, not necessarily at the top of my class. That said, I chose a challenging degree program worked like a dog throughout college doing menial manual labor/blue collar jobs and was rewarded with a good job that I have a passion for that pays well and, yes, still requires a boat load of work. The same is true whether you are a sociology major, a nuclear engineer, or a design major. Your job prospects are tied to how effectively you work with yourself and with others.
It’s refreshing to see things like this coming from any professor, especially one in CHASS. No one is going to give you a job simply because you made an A in that really hard class or have a fancy woven piece of paper hanging on the wall. Luckily, at beloved NC State, the resources, degrees, and personnel are all there to help you achieve. Don’t waste a good opportunity.