Job Prospects for Philosophy Majors: Perception and Reality


The number of philosophy majors in the U.S. is down 35% since its recent peak in 2007, and today, philosophy majors make up only around 0.137% of the student population.

These figures, based on data from Humanities Indicators, are among those discussed in a recent article in The Atlantic by Benjamin Schmidt, assistant professor of history at Northeastern University.

Over the past decade there has been a significant decline in the numbers of all humanities majors, as the following graph depicts.

Graph from The Atlantic, based on data from Humanities Indicators

And while the longer view (in the graph below) shows that the numbers in philosophy are less volatile than in some of the other humanities disciplines, there is the possibility that the recent steeper decline can be informative for those interested in the long term prospects of philosophy offerings in U.S. colleges and universities.

Graph from The Atlantic, based on data from Humanities Indicators

Professor Schmidt thinks that the culprit is not a general sudden decline in people being interested in the humanities, nor is it politics (“Do you think students are put off by liberal pieties in the classroom? It’s difficult to square that argument with the two decades of stability that followed the beginning of the culture wars in the late 1980s”).

Rather, he says: “In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, students seem to have shifted their view of what they should be studying—in a largely misguided effort to enhance their chances on the job market… Students fled the humanities after the financial crisis because they became more fearful of the job market.”

The students are misinformed, he argues. The “actual career prospects of humanities majors” don’t do the explanatory work:

Evidence does indicate that humanities majors are probably slightly worse off than average—maybe as much as one more point of unemployment and $5,000 to $10,000 a year in income. Finance and computer-science majors make more; biology and business majors make about the same. But most of the differences are slight—well within the margins of error of the surveys. One analysis actually found that humanities majors under the age of 35 are actually less likely to be unemployed than life-science or social-science majors. Other factors, like gender, matter more: Men with terminal humanities B.A.’s make more money than women in any field but engineering. Being the type of person inclined to view a college major in terms of return on investment will probably make a much bigger difference in your earnings than the actual major does.

In other areas of the economy, we view these kinds of differences with equanimity. The difference between humanities majors and science majors, in median income and unemployment, seems to be no more than the difference between residents of Virginia and North Carolina. If someone told to me not to move to Charlotte because no one there can make a living, I would never take them seriously. But worried relatives express the same concerns about classics majors every day, with no sounder evidence.

This suggests that efforts by philosophers, philosophy departments, and organizations such as the American Philosophical Association to provide more information about the employment prospects of philosophy majors could be an effective part of a strategy for increasing the number of students studying philosophy—especially since philosophy majors seem to do pretty well compared to other humanities majors.

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Anecdotal Evience
Anecdotal Evience
2 years ago

I recently graduated with a philosophy degree from a school with a great philosophy program. I also majored in linguistics. I am still bartending and have had little to no luck finding more meaningful, interesting work. Naturally, I am applying to PhD programs as well as law school. But based on my experience I would strongly advise that people major in something in addition to philosophy that makes them more employable from the jump.

About halfway through my undergraduate studies I considered majoring in computer science or math to supplement my philosophy degree (so that I could at least have some entry level data job or teach high school), but I went with linguistics instead. I did this because I was (and am) passionately interested in philosophy of language / logic.

But as I work until 3-4am every Friday and Saturday night, relying on the tips of drunkards to pay my bills at age 25, I sometimes regret not majoring in something that would make me more employable. Don’t be like me, don’t major in philosophy and linguistics only.Report

JT
JT
Reply to  Anecdotal Evience
2 years ago

Yes, I ended up doing an MA and part of a PhD. The opportunity cost is real. My advice to prospective majors would be to seriously consider if they or their families will be able to financially support them (and any potential dependents) through 3-5 pretty lean years post-grad. Part of the problem here is that there is no clear path from a philosophy BA (or even MA/PhD) to a living wage, so even if the jobs are out there, there will likely take lots of legwork to get one.Report

Existential Cocktails
Existential Cocktails
Reply to  Anecdotal Evience
2 years ago

I’m in a similar position, though I feel very differently about it. I too graduated with a philosophy degree, then went on to earn a Master’s in philosophy and then went onto a PhD program — at, in the words of one of my MA professors, a “very powerful department” with a very strong reputation and placement for my subfield of philosophy — only to leave the program and return to bartending.

Now, there were multiple reasons for my leaving the PhD program — it wasn’t merely that I missed working at a bar (indeed, a very specific bar far, far away from the school I was at) — but I can tell you that I’m *far* happier slinging drinks than I was pursuing a “real” career. First and foremost, I work at a bar not only that I love, but a bar that is a bona fide community gathering place that our community cherishes. It is a very special *home* (in the sense that it is where they feel at home) for many people, myself included — and we’re very grateful for it.

Second, there are very few other professions/work situations where you not only get to spend eight hours a day with good friends, but get paid to do so. I’m certainly very lucky that the bar I work at (and frequented for a few years before the job offer came) has awesome regulars and employees who love each other and the place itself — not all bars are like that. If you can find a bar that has a real sense of community about it, it can be deeply rewarding.

Third, and perhaps most relevant to you and philosophers reading, is that I actually get to use my philosophy education to make real differences in the lives of people around me whom I care about. There’s a sense in which my philosophy education, despite its being actively continued, was not really being put to use as a doctoral student. Sure, I got to go back and forth with some pretty intelligent people — but it felt like a game of tennis or something that ended when we left the seminar room and had little or no staying power, little or no real impact on myself or others (ostensibly). It felt like we were, in a sense, wasting both insight and breath; insight was read and spoken, but it was as if the insights put into words evaporated in the seminar room. At the bar, on the other hand, I not only see the impact of conversations I have with people around me, but am also deeply moved when a friend hugs me the next time they see me and they say “Thanks . . . for more than you know.”

So there’s a sense in which I still am a philosopher, perhaps even more of one than I was when I was receiving a stipend to study. On paper, I’m just a bartender — but I’ve found a role as a philosopher in my community. I no longer get paid to read what Heidegger wrote about angst or what Foucault discussed in his later lectures on care of the self, but it’s much more fulfilling to see these insights make a difference in my life and those around me as opposed to being left in the seminar room or put into a paper and forgotten.

My philosophy education and the community that gathers around my bar have, because of each other and their belonging together, taken on much richer significance than I ever could have imagined. A philosophy degree is infinitely more than a chance at a “respectable” career or decent salary, and bartending (especially if you remain philosophically inclined) can be infinitely more than a way of paying bills with tips from drunkards.

You never truly know the value of the work that you do.Report

Fool
Fool
Reply to  Existential Cocktails
2 years ago

Wow, the targeted marketing team for that upcoming Cheers reboot really know their niche!

(cool post, and one reason I push my own department’s philosophy minor harder than our major – people with philosophy training probably make more of a marginal difference to the world outside academic philosophy than inside it…)Report

Anecdotal Evience
Anecdotal Evience
Reply to  Existential Cocktails
2 years ago

That’s great that you enjoy what you do so much and that you are having a meaningful connection to your community through what you do. I totally see how bartending would enable certain kinds of people to do that. I enjoyed this aspect of bartending during my early 20’s. But now as I find myself in a committed relationship with my partner who works a decent paying 9-5 tech job, my needing to work EVERY Friday / Saturday night (to be able to afford my student loans) has become a nuisance. They are entirely supportive, but not being able to spend their time off together is less than ideal.

Realistically, a full time lunch bartender gig wouldn’t be so bad, but most bars don’t have the same kinds of perks that ‘real’ jobs do.

If I didn’t manage to rack up so much debt (I took out really bad private loans through PNC – it’s a long story as to why I made this bad choice), I probably wouldn’t care. There is no doubt in my mind that studying philosophy made me a better person and in a perfect world it would have been the right (best?!) decision. But in the actual world, I can’t help but feel that I made a bad choice.

In the actual world, I personally would be in a better position if I also did a STEM major. And while I don’t doubt that some philosophers have a more significant impact outside of academia, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t also major in ‘practical’ majors. Indeed, it seems this is exactly why they should additionally major in ‘practical’ majors. This will open more doors for them and allow them a wider range of potential Philosophical Impact.Report

NLP
NLP
Reply to  Anecdotal Evience
2 years ago

Anecdotal Evience, I apologize if my ignorance of your situation makes my comment inapplicable. But you don’t need a computer science degree to get a job in tech. Your background in linguistics, logic, and philosophy would actually be quite desirable for working on natural language processing teams at tech companies. NLP is the cornerstone of all web based technologies these days. It is true that you need to learn some programming, but given your background that shouldn’t be too difficult and there are so many resources out there to help people learn and go into the industry, especially in the US. Report

Anecdotal Evience
Anecdotal Evience
Reply to  NLP
2 years ago

Hey, I have certainly considered this and looked at some job listings but didn’t actually follow through with any in a serious way. I should more seriously consider this, thanks for the reminder. I do remember most listings stating that a compsci degree was a requirement.Report

NLP
NLP
Reply to  Anecdotal Evience
2 years ago

Don’t let the job description requirements prevent you from applying. They aren’t written by the people who do the actual hiring. Those requirements are more like preferences, not at all deal breakers. There just aren’t enough CS majors to fill the jobs. Most of the people I know in the industry do not have CS degrees. It is the complete opposite of the academic philosophy job market. I would also look into going to tech MeetUp’s (meetup.com) in your area. At least in the big US cities a lot of recruitment goes on at those events. Report

sahpa
sahpa
Reply to  Anecdotal Evience
2 years ago

I sympathize with your situation, but I wouldn’t go around given general advice on the basis of your personal experience. As they (rightly) say, anecdotes are not data (they are evidence, but only for very weak possibility claims).Report

Gerard McGorian
Gerard McGorian
Reply to  Anecdotal Evience
2 years ago

I majored in philosophy and linguistics – true, about 40 years ago – and was recruited for a US Government job before I even graduated.
I spent an incredibly “meaningful” working life, living in 11 countries, on four continents. I’m retired, very contented with my life, and almost ridiculously happy. And I attribute that latter state almost entirely to my BA in philosophy. Yes, times have changed; but don’t be too hard on yourself: “It will all work out in the end.”
Report

grad student
grad student
2 years ago

From the article: “I’ve only found one large class of schools where humanities enrollments have held steady: historically black colleges and universities. HBCUs are also the only institutional class where a majority of students say they’re dedicated to crafting a philosophy of life.”Report

Samar Misra
Samar Misra
2 years ago

What is point of majoring in STEM subject compared to humanities major if one cannot make it through a STEM major from one or two courses as impediments in major? Also, what to do when passion is lacking in STEM? Report

Sam Duncan
Sam Duncan
2 years ago

One thing that departments should do that would both help their graduates find jobs and help majors and potential majors anxiety about their careers is to cultivate their alumni networks a bit more. I could be wrong about this, and I hope I am, but my own limited experience is that business programs and other “practical” majors are much better at doing this than are philosophy programs. Philosophy programs seem to keep track of their BA students who go to grad school, but forget about everyone else. Moreover, cultivating an alumni network would also likely be a big help to grad students who decide against academia or who aren’t lucky enough to get a stable well-paying academic job. Report

JT
JT
Reply to  Sam Duncan
2 years ago

It’d be an improvement if departments took even the slightest interest in what happens to graduates who leave the academy. I know my department doesn’t formally keep track of this (despite some very supportive individual members); I doubt many do.Report

JT
JT
2 years ago

I’ve always wondered about the stats that say philosophy BAs make money (even though I’ve been known to propogate them myself). We know that philosophy BAs tend to be white and male; I’d also guess that they tend to come from better economic backgrounds too. In light of this, it seems likely that there’s some selection bias there. How much, I’m not sure–but certainly more than is admitted here.Report

David Mark Wallace
David Mark Wallace
Reply to  JT
2 years ago

This got raised at Feminist Philosophers four years ago: https://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/is-philosophy-more-lucrative-or-just-more-male in the context of gender. I had a quick crude attempt at modelling it, and it’s hard to make it play a major effect. But I don’t know about race or economic-background effects (in the latter, I don’t even know how to collect the data reliably).

Maybe this should be the recruiting slogan for a department with strengths in statistical inference, Newcomb’s paradox, and the like: “Philosophy majors make more money than other Humanities majors – major in philosophy to learn why that might not be a good reason to major in philosophy!”Report

Alex Gregory
Reply to  JT
2 years ago

In the UK, the Institute for Fiscal studies recently tried to calculate the financial returns for different degree subjects *once you control for selection bias*: https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/13036.

They effectively conclude that philosophy graduates in fact do well, but that once you control for selection bias, they aren’t doing so well. For whatever it’s worth, when I look at their raw data, it looked a bit dubious to me. And I’m a little sceptical how easy it is to control for every significant selection bias. But still, it’s an interesting read.Report

Javier
Javier
Reply to  Alex Gregory
2 years ago

I’ve only briefly skimmed the report, but it seems like one major variable that it’s hard to control for is desire to make money. Of course, most people want a high salary, but it’s probable that philosophy majors prioritize this less than business majors–just the fact that they chose philosophy over more stereotypically lucrative fields suggests this. And if philosophers don’t prioritize making a high salary as much as other people, then it seems likely that they’ll end making less money on average. I haven’t seen a study so far that convincingly addresses this problem. Maybe there’s one I have any seen?Report

Alex Gregory
Reply to  Javier
2 years ago

I completely agree, and this is part of what I had in mind by my second concern above.Report

Postdoc
Postdoc
2 years ago

I want to know what Philosophy BA’s do to make the money some of these surveys claim they make. As someone with a PhD in philosophy who has been looking for alternative careers, I can’t find anything interesting available for someone with my credentials, definitely not anything that pays well.
Report

Unknown Philosopher
Unknown Philosopher
Reply to  Postdoc
2 years ago

Some of the recent grads (i.e., from the last six or seven years) from my undergraduate program recently reported the following employment activities: attorney; admissions counselor; data analyst (several of these, one of whom works at FEMA); investment banker; accountant; teacher. Many of these students had second majors.Report

driftincowboy
driftincowboy
Reply to  Unknown Philosopher
2 years ago

I think that’s the key. Armed with only a philosophy major, you aren’t going very far very soon. You have to have extra hard skills or know somebody.Report

Postdoc
Postdoc
Reply to  Unknown Philosopher
2 years ago

But that’s the problem: second major. What do people with philosophy BA’s do? You can’t be an attorney, data analyst, investment banker (unless your dad hooks you up), or accountant. So that leaves admissions counselor and teacher. Neither of which pays particularly well. I also wonder whether you could be admissions councilor without a psychology/social work background. I also wonder how many high schools are employing people with BA’s in philosophy. So, all this means I am very skeptical of the relatively high salaries we see attributed to philosophy majors. Unless really those salaries aren’t due to philosophy at all but to a law degree or a finance degree…Report

Chronos
Chronos
Reply to  Postdoc
2 years ago

Can I recommend that PhD-looking-for-an-alternative-career consider staying in education (which you are trained for). Look at the administrative jobs listed on Inside Higher Education. I know several administrators who work at universities and regularly teach a class in the University Core or elsewhere. After you get established the pay can be good, you work at a university, and your knowledge from your degree works for you. God knows we need more humanities administrators and fewer people with those silly education or business degrees. Report

Michael Burns
Michael Burns
2 years ago

I’m always suspicious of attempts to link unemployment numbers to specific majors. A more meaningful metric would track employment, for instance, in a field where having a BA in philosophy was relevant. Also, biology and psych majors are, by and large, not interested in biology or psych – they’re pre-meds hoping to score big by landing a stable career in medicine. Most do not, and the glut of degree holders in those fields results in depressed wages. Don’t get me wrong, I love philosophy, but I don’t see any clear evidence here that the humanities are actually desirable degrees for students staring down the barrel of 5-6 figs in student loan debt, just that they suck as bad as some of the sciences… not exactly a ringing endorsement. Please change my mind.Report

Another Grad
Another Grad
2 years ago

A philosophy major will serve you well once you have your foot in the door at a company. It’s an open secret that undergraduate major hardly matters at all for business unless you are doing something like engineering or lab research, and even then it’s not the same as having a more advanced degree. That’s because most people know that a person with a good head on their shoulders can quickly learn financial spreadsheets and other workflows in a matter of weeks. If I know Ruby, Python, Haskell etc., then my actual technical proficiency in those languages will be enough for a coding job. And, anyway, half the time the finance or business major, say, isn’t taught the specific skill set they need for the job they land. That said, you will likely encounter difficulty in getting that first real job if you are merely a philosophy major without any other practical experience. This is so for at least two reasons:

First, because most hiring managers don’t really understand what a philosophy major entails. The skills are certainly helpful in actuality, and they might well help you shine throughout the course of your career, but it’s a hard sell at the very beginning. By no means is it obvious to an employer that studying Aristotle gives you the sort of analytical rigor needed to actually pick up the basics of accounting in a few short weeks. This is especially true before the interview stage (many large companies have screen using key word filters or go through HR personnel who may be ignorant of how something like formal semantics relates to computer science).

Second, because some hiring managers will even distrust the motives of someone who studied the subject: “How do I know if you really want *this* job versus just *any* job?”; “Is this just a rest stop before applying to law school?”. They will wonder why you didn’t do something more practical or something that demonstrated an interest in marketing, sales, advertising, etc.

That said, no specific major is essential to getting a job out of college. The trick is to take a few practical courses to demonstrate interest in the sector you’re targeting (basics of accounting, finance, advertising, computer science etc.) and apply to internships early in undergrad. Clubs geared at a specific sort of career are also a good place to pick up knowledge and build connections. At least for big companies, consulting, and finance jobs, that’s how you land them: demonstrate concrete interest in a field or two, apply to internships, network, go to on-campus recruitment, apply broadly but judiciously, be charismatic and friendly (someone you wouldn’t mind spending an airport layover with), and then hopefully find a job waiting for you at the end.

I think Schmidt is absolutely right that this downturn in humanities majors is a result of the financial crisis and misinformation about how to cope with the prospect of an economic downturn. A lot of people are just overcorrecting or have parents who are more adamant that their child need to study a “real” subject. I graduated into the financial crisis and experienced a lot of this directly. But if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t change my major or necessarily add on a full econ or accounting double major. Instead I would just play the game and do more of the above from the very start. And I think that’s what philosophy departments should be actively encouraging students to do.Report

Wesley Buckwalter
Wesley Buckwalter
2 years ago

So “one more point of unemployment and $5,000 to $10,000 a year in income”, is worth what, over a million dollars, in a career? Also, surely job prospects impact people’s decisions to move to new cities all the time.Report

Mathematics
Mathematics
Reply to  Wesley Buckwalter
2 years ago

Either you struggle with basic math or you’re not used to the short life span of us mere mortals. Report

Another Grad
Another Grad
Reply to  Mathematics
2 years ago

Or perhaps you are unaware of the phenomenon by which interest compounds? Supposing this really is extra cash on hand and so could be stuck into a long-term retirement fund like a 401k, then starting at age 23 with $10,000, adding an additional $10,000 annually, and assuming a very modest 4% annual growth, I believe you would be left with $1,048,195.98. Of course this doesn’t account for things like the effect of inflation on future value. But even if we halve this amount, the point is that Wesley was not wrong to regard an additional $10,000 per month as a potentially significant, even life altering adjustment.

I did a very basic calculation in Excel, but anybody can play around with an online utility like this to get similar figures: http://www.moneychimp.com/calculator/compound_interest_calculator.htm

On a separate note, even if Wesley were wrong (which is not that case since it was you who had been unaware of rudimentary finance), was it really necessary to try and shame him? Maybe you could have used it as a teaching moment instead.Report

Mathematics
Mathematics
Reply to  Another Grad
2 years ago

First the interest rate is below real inflation. Second capital gains from securities isn’t income. He was talking about income not capital gains. If you invested the money in stocks you might make 10% a year if the future is like the past, a big if. But that’s the stocks going up in value not the value of the earned money. Again he was talking about how much the income is worth. It’s a big stretch to claim what he meant was how much you could possibly make with the money in stocks, as he never mentioned investments. Maybe I could have been more charitable but the second half of my comment was also supposed to be light hearted. I admit though that invested 5k extra a year could amount to a big difference. We shouldn’t scoff at such income differences. That wasn’t the point of my comment. My comment was to correct the notion that 5 or 10k a year income over a career would amount to a million total extra income. Report

Another Grad
Another Grad
Reply to  Mathematics
2 years ago

You say he was talking about income, not capital gains, but that’s your assumption. If somebody asks me how much some amount of money is *worth* to me, then I’m not going to fuss over whether we’re talking about earned income or capital gains. Obviously what it’s *worth* to me is what it will do, either in the moment (with things like keeping the lights on) or in the long-term (with things like retirement planning). Nobody with half a brain is going to let large amounts of money devalue in a pitifully low interest rate savings account, which, as you point out, is below inflation. So in this context it seemed quite obvious that he was talking about how much the money could amount to. And what the money could amount to almost certainly includes the increases you would see through investment in securities.

If you weren’t sure about that, then the charitable thing to do would be to not assume that he can’t do basic math, but instead to ask how he came to that figure. I think the “big stretch” is to interpret someone as being incapable of multiplication rather than assuming that they were taking a broad understanding of what counts as “income.”

For the most part you seem to agree, so I don’t see the need to belabor this any further. I guess neither of us would see any real gains!Report

Mathematics
Mathematics
Reply to  Another Grad
2 years ago

It never occurred to me that he was talking about anything other than income, as he talks about what the income is worth over a career. I actually think you’re being too charitable covering up an obvious mistake. He said ‘career’ but was thinking ‘lifetime’ and was being a little optimistic in how long people live (average in the US is 78 years).

However, 5K to 10K a year is a significant amount of money over a career, especially if it’s invested wisely. I agree. However, we also shouldn’t overstate how much it is. Assuming a 50 year career it’s between 250k and 500k in income. Invested, who knows!

But now I want to touch on something else. You claim I’m being rude and uncharitable by sarcastically pointing out an apparent error. Fine, my post could have been phrased more nicely. Sorry about that. However, I thought I had attempted to be humorous with the ‘mere mortals’ disjunct. I didn’t mean for the post to be taken so negatively.

Report

Tom Morris
2 years ago

When I taught philosophy at Notre Dame, a couple of decades ago, my intro students would often tell me that they wanted to major in philosophy but their parents wouldn’t let them! The more I’ve worked with people in the world of business, having done over 1,000 philosophical presentations over the past 25 years for companies of every size, I’ve come to realize the vital importance in any business of analytical thinking, conceptual analysis, and what for a long time was the forgotten side of philosophy, the practical domain, where serious thinkers reflected on such topics as anger, meaning, success, ambition, friendship, life choice, and related issues. After 10 academic books, I began to work and write in the practical space, and found it just as challenging as developing new modalities of property exemplification, or exploring the ontological status of abstract objects. And it’s enhanced my life immensely. For anyone wondering about the interface of philosophy and modern business, drop by http://www.TomVMorris.com and browse around! And keep the faith! Oh! I forgot to mention. I resigned my full professorship at a wonderful department to go out into the broader culture as an independent philosopher and it’s been a great quarter of a century of adventure!!!Report

Hayze
Hayze
Reply to  Tom Morris
2 years ago

The skills of philosophy may be important as you say, but the reality is that employers usually look for other skills and credentials.Report

Erik H
Erik H
2 years ago

Every time I see people becoming upset about a decline in philosophy or humanities, I wonder:

What is the “right” amount? What is the ideal percentage of humanities and philosophy majors, and should we even care about the decline unless we can show we are now below the ideal?

Judging from the reactions of humanities professors it seems to be always “as much as possible” but that can’t be true, can it?Report

Smith&Jones
Smith&Jones
2 years ago

I still doubt that undergraduates who are concerned about their financial future and so opt out of philosophy degree for something in STEM are all that “misguided”. Others have mentioned the conceptual limitations of the evidence here. Also, the path to good pay with a STEM degree is often so much more straightforward than a humanities degree. That counts for something when you are the one scrambling around for a job after undergrad. Finally, an extra $10,000 per year isn’t exactly chump change for most of us.

Philosophy is something I love and all of us here love. But it may not be instrumentally rational to pursue a degree in it. And I don’t think we should sell a phil degree to the youth as a viable road to a financially healthy life until we actually know that it is. Report

John
John
2 years ago

I teach at a college that last year dropped its philosophy major and the whole department, offering only a few courses each semester with one faculty member left from the department. They say it is because of declining philosophy majors. I suspect this may be a pattern elsewhere, especially in smaller, liberal arts colleges. Other than offering philosophy courses in another department (religion, political science?) or offering a minor in philosophy, the long term does not look promising for faculty unless you want to teach as adjuncts and have a job outside the academy. Any other alternatives anyone sees for undergraduate philosophy majors or departments, especially in smaller, liberal arts colleges? Report

Alex Turner-Claros
Alex Turner-Claros
1 year ago

We don’t really have majors or minors in the UK, just the degree title. I say that studying my degree in philosophy, politics and ethics was the worst mistake of my life. Unfortunately, due to the education system in the UK and my own academic choices I was not even taking science or mathematics at A-level (prerequisites for university entrance).

I did have a chance after university to teach English abroad, where I earned around 10,000 usd a year. In Australia on a working holiday Visa I was able to find a lot of fulfilling and hard work in construction and agriculture. My degree had little use there.

I actually think it would have been better never to go to university. I saw my mothers mortgage the other day, and it sits around 30k. In my 3 years travelling I must have spent at least 20k GBP. My debt for university fees alone must be 50k GBP.

I have friends at the moment, who got skilled trades or work in bars etc and earn more than me now. Luckily during covid-19 I managed to secure a job as a cleaner on a construction site. Working on getting a health and safety card (cscs) and driving licence this year.

I enjoy reading a lot of different topics, and philosophy was at one point one of them. My problem was the that discourses tended to be data lacking. Talking about abstract concepts and debating what people meant when they said this or that really was a waste of time for me. I’d much rather take the evidence based approach and look at hard data. I advocate STEM over philosophy to everyone.

The way I see things, I had 3 options:

Join the army
Get a skilled trade
Go to university

I was unable to join the army because of a peanut allergy, but I’m trying to build immunity and will hopefully get an appeal.

Now more than ever I want a skilled trade. It’s useful, you can find work and I’d be able to fix up my mums house, buy and sell other properties and just work harder, doing something more fulfilling.

Going to uni was by far my worst decision. Before hand I worked at a solicitors as an office jr and as a bartender at the weekends. After university, I cleaned dishes, collected glasses (people wouldn’t even put me on the bar) and cleaned. I have water Bill’s my ex housemates wont pay to pay off, a student overdraft I need to pay off, and the fees for an education that amounted to 8 hours of face time a week, not many friends made, a lot of weed smoked unfortunately, and lecturers who, so I heard, swapped grades for sex favours.

I would say, if in america, maybe do a minor in philosophy because it can be interesting, but look to the sciences and STEM, because I do say (and I’ve made some doozies) studying philosophy at university was the biggest mistake of my life. Luckily, a lot of eastern philosophy encourages you to let go and accept. Sadly we were only taught western philosophy, hardly any of my favourite philosophers such as wittgenstein or spina, and had to study feminism and Marxism for the final year, subjects that while admirable in many ways, I don’t care about really.

I’m much more interested in sustainable development, neuroscience, public health and marine engineering. They would have been awesome to study. Sadly I got the worst grade too and left with very little confidence in my writing, and felt ostracized from academia in general.

My own fault I accept, but apart from meeting a few good people (most of whom not on my course)it was the greatest waste of time and money i have ever made. Report