The only thing you get with an arts degree is a job at McDonald’s. When I left secondary school in 2010, long enough to look back with confidence on how things were going but fresh enough to still be able to offer advice to school leavers, I was told.
Usually the advice came from smug science students I met while holding on to my English Literature and Modern Irish degree at my alma mater, University College Dublin.
Or maybe it came from those who graduated from art school years ago and upon graduation found that they had no clear career path and were forced to catch up instead of diving straight into a job that university would qualify them for without years had unemployment or the need for further studies.
This year’s high school graduates have to deal with well-meaning advice from relatives, teachers and friends when choosing their studies.
As the cost of living continues to rise, they are under more pressure than ever. You may be wondering whether it makes sense to study Ancient Greek, Linguistics, or English, the most spurned of all arts degrees.
There is no question that at a time when it is not easy to earn a living despite the lack of staff, the pressure on graduates to perform is increasing.
There is also a need for future-proof careers to weather any crisis that comes next along the rails.
For this observer, a shift in priorities in higher education tells its own story.
While classical music was once among the most prestigious degrees, Howard University in the US has outsourced its entire faculty.
Sheffield Hallam University will withdraw its English Literature degree from next year and integrate it into a broader English degree, shortly after the University of Cumbria took similar action.
This doomsday message about the value placed on art degrees was common when I was a fresh-faced 18-year-old, but maybe I was too naive to pay attention, or too eager to go to university, where I would be, at least marginally better protected from the effects of a recession.
We are now being told that apprenticeships are the way to overcome stem jobs that were in vogue when I was a teenager.
While art graduates are told they have no place in large corporations and few career opportunities, this is not the case.
When a recent graduate feels they have no choice but to continue their education, it’s more the universities’ fault.
When I received my degree, I went straight on to do an MA, which would prepare me for employment in an industry I wanted to work in because I was told that was what I had to do.
We spend a lot of money to get an education, but all indications are that art graduates earn less.
A similar situation applies to those teaching students, with academics increasingly facing job insecurity.
While my first degree may not have prompted me to immediately outdo friends who have decided to study actuarial, medical, or even teaching, I would advise graduates that there is little point in choosing a degree purely for the sake of money , unless you know it at the tender age of 18 that it will be your number one drive in life.
Personally, I would never have been able to study science and would have been ill-suited to an electrician apprenticeship due to my lack of interest in these subjects and thus my inability to memorize relevant information.
Likewise, I would never have been able to work in those fields because I would have lived my life alone for the precious two days of the weekend, counting the hours each day until I could leave work, and being completely uninterested in my career choice.
Art subjects like the ones I studied may not be in vogue right now, but it will always be a good thing for school leavers to choose an industry that interests them and doesn’t make them hate every second of the workday.
In defense of arts graduates, we have been taught skills that are needed. In a world where sensitivity is key, we have the ability to negotiate language, analyze information and its nuances, and think creatively and critically—skills that are essential in a world where we tend to see things in black and white seen becoming increasingly rare.
https://www.independent.ie/news/pick-a-degree-for-your-love-of-the-subject-not-the-cash-itll-make-you-41820459.html Choose a degree based on your love for the subject, not the money you make from it