“Useless majors” aren’t so useless

Hoard's Dairyman: 

“Useless majors” aren’t so useless

Date: 
Wed, 09/07/2011

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The Daily Beast (www.thedailybeast.com), an online news site which merged with Newsweek this year, printed their list of the "20 Most Useless College Majors." Let’s just say, we don’t think they nailed it.

At some point in every college student’s life, they realize that "majors" and "occupations" don’t always line up. In the Hoard’s Dairyman editorial office, we have four editors with dairy/animal science majors. However, we spend much more of our time editing and journaling than we do digging deep into the science of the dairy cow. But we aren’t that unique.

We know there are plenty of major and occupation instances that line up. President Obama went to Columbia University for political science. Oprah Winfrey studied communication at Tennessee State University. Warren Buffet (his letters alone are famous) studied business administration at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Nebraska Lincoln.

But Rick Perry (current Governor of Texas, and 2012 Presidential candidate) was born on a ranch in West Texas, and graduated from Texas A & M with an animal science degree. He then went to the political scene, made a three-term stop as the Texas agriculture commissioner, and then won the Lieutenant Governor’s office.

Likewise, Nicole Polizzi (better known as Snooki on the MTV reality show "Jersey Shore") was studying at a community college to be a veterinary technician. But then she was cast on MTV’s "Is She Really Going Out with Him?", a show about women dating obnoxious men. Today, she is making $30,000 per episode on "Jersey Shore."

Our bother with The Beast
While the above are some pop culture icons and examples of their lives, we probably all know people who’s occupations "don’t match" the majors. The fact of the matter is, it is all about supply and demand. If there is a lack of Subway or Jimmy Johns sandwich artists, those companies are going to pay more for people with those skills. Likewise, if there is a shortage of rural veterinarians (there is), veterinary offices, farmers, and even state governments will chip in more money to supply the need.

This is where the Daily Beast list misses the mark. They call their list the "20 Most Useless College Majors." But they have no clue about supply and demand. We take personal offense as agriculture seems to have a double-whammy hit on the list.

We won’t talk about professions we’re not familiar with, but by listing agriculture at number 3 and animal science at 20, the Daily Beast obviously did not do its research. As you may understand, job postings come through this office for agriculture and dairy jobs quite often. Lately, we’ve been scratching our heads trying to find candidates looking for a job. Usually, new agriculture employees are either college graduates, or poached from another job in which they are happily employed. Animal science is a baffling thing to have on the list with the shortage of veterinarians in this country.

boy_and_calf

A student at Vermont Technical College teaches a calf to lead during the first week of school in late August.

Also, for agriculture at least, the salaries on this list don’t give any example of cost and benefit. In rural America, $35,000 is going to stretch much farther than the blocks surrounding The Daily Beast’s New York City offices.

Some words of advice for the students out there: Don’t let lists like this dissuade you from pursuing a career in agriculture. Check out the Hoard’s Dairyman classifieds at http://www.hoards.com/ed-classified/tid/28 and you’ll see plenty of opportunity in farms alone. There is plenty more at colleges and universities, veterinary practices, and corporations the world over.

Click here to see the original page for The Daily Beast’s 20 most useless majors and salaries.

Major, median starting salary
1 Journalism, $35,800
2 Horticulture, $35,000
3 Agriculture, $42,300
4 Advertising, $37,800
5 Fashion Design, $37,700
6 Child and Family Studies, $29,500
7 Music, $36,700
8 Mechanical Engineering Technology, $53,300
9 Chemistry, $42,400
10 Nutrition, $42,200
11 Human Resources, $38,100
12 Theater, $35,300
13 Art History, $39,400
14 Photography, $35,100
15 Literature, $37,500
16 Art, $33,500
17 Fine Arts, $35,400
18 Psychology, $35,300
19 English, $37,800
20 Animal Science, $34,600

Start the search for 2012 internships
On a related note, the Hoard’s Dairyman internship posting for 2012 has been updated. Be sure to check it out and send it to people who may be interested. Three of our current editors found their spot at Hoard’s after going through our internship. Many other past interns have also found positions at prominent agricultural institutions. For other internships, check out the National Dairy Shrine website: http://dairyshrine.org/internship_opportunities.php.


Join us next Monday, September 12 at noon for Hoard's Dairyman free webinar, "Feeding for Protein Production". It will be presented by Chuck Schwab and brought to you by Elanco. Register at www.hoards.com/webinars . Past webinars are archived there, too.