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Why I counsel against the Liberal Arts degree

February 19, 2013

Recently I posted about a Yahoo! Education article (one of many such that pop up with startling regularity) which indicated that the value of a liberal arts degree is, in short, not worth the investment.  I concurred.

English: Seven Liberal Arts / Musica

English: Seven Liberal Arts / Musica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kirkistan, his blog is Conversation is an engine, posted a reply.  It is a well presented rebuttal, and even garnered a less-well worded follow-on comment.

Here is my reply:

So sorry to come so late to the party.

I, too, don’t “buy what they are selling,” partly because I can’t afford to buy much.  🙂

One of my frequent clarions is to advise the younger generation away from the pain I have experienced from the decisions I made.  Is a liberal arts degree a death knell?  Not always.  It seems that Kirkistan beat the odds.  I applaud his good fortune.  He followed his path, and it led him well.

You are, though, the exception that proves the rule.  Far too many baristas struggle to pay off their student loans pulling them into a cycle of wage slavery that, arguably, sucks their life faster than working a better paying job that would allow them the economic freedom of movement to explore their intellectual passions.  And that is the dirty little secret…economic elbow room allows for more “leisure” time to pursue those passions in life that make life worth living.

I say this after having worked the only jobs available to a PhD in literature–adjunct teaching, which is about as soul-sucking as a wage-slave job can get (the DOD should look into teaching composition as an alternative to water-boarding).  I not only did NOT have the time to pursue my passions, but because of the nature of the beast I began to lose the passion in what I had, up to that point, dedicated my energies to…  In the past few years, I have moved away from beating my head against that wall and only take up an online class here and there—kind of a hobby class.  I have also pursued, at times in a mercenary manner, alternate revenue streams.  Finding a lucrative means of supporting my family while giving myself time and room to breathe (not grading all weekend, nights, etc.) has opened up my life again.  I can now feel the deep joy of backyard chicken raising (my other blog is a chicken blog), advocate for just causes and generally explore life again.

I say all of this to say that I wish that I would have had better counsel/information twenty years ago that would have allowed me to better position my education around a marketable skill over a “calling.”  Sometimes the call ends.

I will open up this discussion with some related article below which offer some pro and con.

I welcome your input into Kirkistan and my discussion.  With him, I agree, that conversation is an engine.

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  1. kirkistan permalink
    February 19, 2013 4:16 pm

    PissPoorProf: you are giving me lots to think about (including your deep joy in raising chickens). I agree with all you’ve said about the miserable state of adjunct-hood:


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