Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Marketable Degree Or A Career You Love?

On Alternet, I read an article Will You Have Roommates For The Rest Of Your Life? by Nan Mooney, where the author addresses the issue:

Thought you'd leave your roommates behind after your career got going? Think again. Social mobility ain't what it used to be

The author covers the phenomenon of rising rents and rising prices coupled with lower paying jobs that creates a situation where more and more adults must live with roommates much further into their adulthood than in years past.

One reader made a critical comment, where he coupled one's maturity level with what field they majored in and their marital status:

Missing information

One critical piece of information is missing from this article: What was Ms Duyn's major in college? Did she get a marketable degree like electrical or biomedical engineering? Or is she just one more Art History major, surprised that no one wants to pay you for that knowledge? Since she has lived an entire decade working odd jobs and unable to secure her own living space, I assume she went for the Art History degree.

...At age 33, she's "ready to be an adult now". Too late.

to which, he smugly added:

As for having roommates, I've had one my entire adult life. Normally, I call her "wife" rather than "roommate". We met at 18 in college, married at 21, and have been happy "roommates" for 30 years. We've lived in some interesting places, but there was never an extra roommate involved, just the two of us and our kids.

As is often the case, this comment set me off, rather than the article, which made a lot of good points about our economy, without blaming the victims.

My reply:

Another Form of Slavery

You chastise the author for not getting a "marketable" degree.

I don't know about you, but getting a degree in a field you have absolutely no interest in and spending the rest of your life working in that field, simply because it is "marketable", sounds an awful lot like a form to slavery to me. In a time of rampant mandatory overtime in many companies, the idea of spending the majority of one's waking hours for the next 40+ years or so in a job you hate sounds like a pretty miserable proposition to me.

It's quite similar to something many people do now; stay with miserable jobs they hate just because the benefits are good. And as more and more companies scale back benefits offered, particularly health insurance, this is a phenomenon that can't help but become more prevalent in the increasingly fewer companies offering good benefits.

Given the choice of spending my best years locked into a job I despise just for the money or having a job I love, but needing roommates, I'd pick the roommates.

The original commenter also did not address how "unmarketable" such currently "marketable" careers would quickly become if everyone now in college immediately changed their majors to such fields. He also did not consider what would happen to this country if no one was willing any longer to become a teacher, nurse, or other relatively low paying career. Nor did it ever enter his mind that a good education, regardless of major, might just be a worthy endeavor on its own, completely apart from its potential to generate money.

Your thoughts?

1 comment:

Roger said...

I got a roommate about 7 months ago. He is quiet, keeps mostly to himself, and pays his rent on time. I read in the Atlanta newspaper today that our population is increasing while rental and owner occupancy is down. This indicates more people are renting rooms or apartments at other people's homes. With me being unemployed, it is saving me a lot of grief.