At this time of year, college graduates are either going off into the wild blue yonder … or stranded on the runway because they can’t find jobs. The hopes and dreams and plans and schemes of the younger generation eventually collide with what’s known as “the real world.”
Nevertheless, hope springs eternal and there are countless young people in every Starbucks, Whole Foods and J.Crew across the country who are motivated by dreams of fame and fortune, not to mention their own reality TV show. Some will change the world, but most will get changed by the world.
In the olden days, parents often asked their kids, “What the #*@&! are you going to do with your life?” That’s a tricky question because what you do with your life is often synonymous with what your life does to you.
In modern society, we define ourselves by our jobs: firewoman, postal worker, President, businessperson, billionaire, crook, cook, doctor, lawyer, butcher, baker, drug dealer and everything in between. So it’s important to make the right choice.
I enjoy asking young people what they want to be when they grow up. Many are studying communications because they want to be communicators. A communicator is someone who writes, talks, pantomimes or sends text-messages for a living, and I suspect quite a few Millennials would like to be professional text-messengers.
Others are pursuing lucrative jobs in engineering, computer programming and actuarial mathematics. They have skills that many of us lack, which means they know how to add and subtract. Nursing is also popular for those who don’t mind the sight of blood.
Young people who want to make really big money aspire to become financial wizards ala J.P. Morgan, Warren Buffett and Bernie Madoff. They lie awake nights, thinking of creative ways to raise revenue for the company and themselves. Anyone who can make the bottom line look bigger than it actually is will be in demand, while the best hope for the rest of us is to buy a winning lottery ticket.
Throughout my life I gravitated toward the less lucrative professions, such as factory worker, skilled and unskilled laborer, religion teacher, English teacher, reporter and editor. I wanted to “change the world,” but no one told me I wouldn’t get rich doing it.
Nowadays, students are more savvy. They know what the best-paying and worst-paying majors are and make their decisions accordingly, since college education is an enormous expense that can saddle you for much of your life. In our day, if you asked someone why they entered a particular profession, they’d often respond, “I just fell into it,” which meant, “I didn’t know what to do with my life … and this job came along.”
I did some Internet research, which may not be accurate, but in the age of fake news, who cares? Kiplinger’s ranks the best and worst college majors, and after looking at their list, I realized I love all the “worst majors,” which is probably why I still drive a Toyota.
Students of America, put down your mobile phones and listen! These majors are associated with low earning potential and limited opportunity. From worse to worst:
- Exercise science (Is this why America is out of shape?)
- Animal science (Involves training chimps to think like Stephen Hawking and Bill Nye, the Science Guy.)
- Religion (God will provide. God better provide.)
- Radio, television and film production (If Kim Kardashian can do it, so can you!)
- Graphic design (The only people who appreciate design are designers.)
- Anthropology (The study of anthropods.)
- Paralegal studies (Someday you could replace Judge Judy.)
- Art (Didn’t that ugly Basquiat painting of a human skull sell for $110.5 million? If he can do it, so can you. Forget what your guidance counselor and parents say.)
- Photography (Who needs Richard Avedon when we have cell phone cameras?)
- Culinary arts (Everyone has to eat, and Americans eat too much, so why is this field ranked so low?)
If young people abandon these poor-paying areas of study, Western Civilization as we know it will come to an end. Then, all we’ll have is Eastern Civilization.
What will happen to our society if students ignore art, exercise and religion and only go into professions like money-maker, money-launderer, money-lender, computer programmer, computer repair-person, IT specialist and politician?
Who will cook for us when the culinary arts disappear? (I don’t want to eat oatmeal the rest of my life.) Who will teach finger painting at your son’s preschool if no one majors in art? And you certainly don’t want your maid-of-honor to take your wedding photos on her iPhone … although she may have to bake the wedding cake.