Will analyze poetic devices for food

Pity the poor English major, who must not only suffer the abuses of postmodern textural analyses in senior seminars but the Thanksgiving-table cries of their relatives: But what are you going to do with that degree? You can discuss comp lit with the passengers in that taxi you'll be driving.

But hold on a bit, Aunt Maudie. That English degree, while not exactly an E-ticket to a fat paycheck, isn't as useless as it might appear.

Bridge has looked at the mismatch of college grads to available jobs before, and most people who pay attention to such things know Michigan (and other states) are overproducing lawyers and underproducing engineers. And while a liberal-arts background might seem like one with few job prospects, a deeper dive into the data shows that even degree-holders in fields like the humanities tend to do OK eventually, if not immediately after graduation.

While graduates with degrees in the arts, liberal arts, social sciences and the like have higher unemployment rates as recent graduates, those rates decline as they age into the "experienced college graduate" category (age 30 to 54), and fall further if they receive graduate degrees, according to a new report by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce. They still don't do as well as those with degrees in more practical training -- health, sciences, education -- but they're not all passing their days feeding pigeons in the park. (Recall, too, that many liberal-arts grads go on to specialized training on the job -- many different jobs -- and in grad school.) Those who can analyze poetry and write papers about it can transfer those skills to other fields.

And they can almost certainly write a coherent business memo. Which my English-major sister, who took her BA to a career in sales, can tell you is a skill that evades many MBAs.

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Mon, 01/09/2012 - 12:18pm
Amen, hallelujah! My English degree has served me well enough, although the publishing industry that I entered nearly thirty years ago eventually failed me and I had to move on to other things. So I work for attorneys now. You'd be amazed how many of them don't know how to write.