Labeling majors “useless degrees” is close-minded thinking

After countless advisers, professors, concerned friends and family members and the occasional survey done by Newsweek I have come to terms with the fact that my journalism major will not get me my dream job as quickly as other majors might.

In a few short months, I will be diving into a dying field where few trust the news, read the newspaper or think my profession is a worthwhile part of society.

I am aware of the challenges ahead of me as I finish up my education within the field of journalism, but rankings of “useless” majors do not define the education I, and many other students, have received while attending college.

According to a 2012 Newsweek report, journalism is the eighth most useless college major. Fine arts, drama and theatre arts, and film, video and photographic arts take the top three spots respectively. But history, political science, English and anthropology also make the list.

English professor Carmen Manning said there is a stigma with college majors that don’t translate into a career with the same title.

“So, with an English degree, you are never going to open up the newspaper and see a want ad that says English major, but students learn to think critically about varieties of information,” Manning said. “They learn to analyze information from multiple perspectives. They learn to gather and research ideas and concepts in very rich and robust ways.”

Manning said, while specifying that she is not criticizing other majors, one-to-one matching of major title to job title does not translate into ability.

Journalism professor Jan Larson expressed similar sentiments. She said students have graduated from UW-Eau Claire with journalism degrees and received jobs with political parties and insurance companies as well as newspapers and TV stations.

“The skills set you learn in terms of being an effective communicator, learning how to find information, learning how to think about information, those are skills that translate across disciplines,” Larson said. “There are just a lot of different places where having writing skills and research skills are going to translate. I don’t think they are ‘useless majors.’”

Obviously, to be a proficient employee in the accounting department of Wells Fargo, I need more than classes about art history and mass media law, but there is possibility for a career such as project manager (according to the Wells Fargo website, the suitable candidates have excellent communication, organizational and interpersonal skills and find satisfaction in meeting deadlines and delivering a project or product on time).

Attending a liberal arts college has prepared me to have skills across a wide set of job descriptions. I know how to not only write but write well. I know how to edit video and audio, but I also know how to measure water turbidity, analyze data and map floodplains.

If push came to shove I know that I could succeed working in public relations, advertising, book writing, movie script writing, social media intern, and a million other things (though not as successfully as someone who graduated with a degree in the field).

Manning said people should consider the fact they will be entering a field at age 22-23 and will be working for an average of 40 years. If they expect to have one, never changing job title, people should adjust their expectations.

The job market is forever evolving and new career options are being discovered every year, as well as old careers being eliminated every year.

When making lists about the most useless majors in college, these writers need to consider more than “journalism” job openings and allow for more broad definitions before attempting to crush the hopes of students and me.