High unployment rate among certian college majors not a major issue on campus
A study published in January from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce finds unemployment among job seekers with no better than a high school diploma at 22.9 percent.
And it doesn’t get any better for high school dropouts, whose unemployment rate sits at 31.5 percent.
While a college degree gives job seekers a formidable advantage over those without, the study finds not all degrees are created equal, and there are a number of factors prospective students should consider before signing their major. The study cited unemployment rates for recent college graduates with a bachelor’s degree at 8.9 percent.
However, Julia Sherlock, director of Career Services at Central Michigan University, doesn’t agree with signing a major depending on current economic climate.
“Markets go up and down in a matter of five to 10 years, and technologies tend to be on the forefront,” Sherlock said. “I think it would be almost impossible to decide a major based on future market needs.”
Architecture unemployment is high, because the housing market went in the tank. Students shouldn’t concern themselves with the percentage rate of the unemployed but rather making themselves marketable to those hiring, she said.
“The market needs those with talent,” Sherlock said. “It’s not a cookie-cutter fit in the market; it is an ever-changing creature. To predict a career path based on 40 to 45 years in the market place and if there is going to be desirability for what degree you have is impossible.”
The career advice is students should not be worried if their major is currently at a high unemployment rate nationally, because students should be more proactive when this is going on.
“What have you done to enhance yourself at CMU?,” Sherlock said. “The more you invest in your professional stuff at CMU the better you will be able to make that transition from student to professional.”
According to the report, fields in anthropology and archeology have an unemployment rate of 10.5 percent, philosophy and religious studies are at 10.8 percent, sociology 8.6 percent and journalism is at 7.7 percent.
Robert Noggle, chairman of the philosophy and religion department, pushed back on the numbers and said lumping the groups together can make unemployment numbers look higher.
“Although it’s true that humanities majors sometimes have more difficulty getting that first job, especially in a recession, the writing, critical thinking and problem-solving skills they develop makes their long-term employment prospects pretty good,” Noggle said.
Noggle said his point is that PHL and REL are separate majors and while both draw fairly small numbers of students, those numbers have not declined due to the recession. Noggle included findings from a mail survey in 2010 of CMU alumns with PHL degrees and found that just 3 percent were unemployed.
“Although the response rate was a little low, it’s pretty clear that most CMU PHL majors find jobs after graduation,” he said.
Brigitte Bechtold, chairwoman for the department of sociology, anthropology and social work, said the department doesn’t keep employment rates for their graduates, but oftentimes, students in the field go on to graduate programs. Advisement about a career depends on what students want to do when leaving college, Bechtold said.
“Sociology graduates may find employment in fields that are not specifically sociology,” she said. “For example: journalism, counseling, statistical research and analysis. So, I would advise graduates to not merely look at job ads specifically for sociologists.”
Charles M. Hastings, associate professor of anthropology and anthropology program coordinator, said it is an uphill struggle for those seeking an academic career in anthropology.
“(To be) an instructor at a college or university, (student) must earn a graduate degree to do so and, realistically, needs a PhD from a strong graduate program to have a chance at the few jobs that open each year,” he said. “Academic jobs in pretty much any branch of anthropology are in a fiercely competitive arena. Some of our students do indeed go this route and succeed.”
However, in this field, there are many non-academic jobs that can be found, too.
“There are many kinds of non-academic careers out there that draw upon what we teach our anthropology majors, and in some of these areas, job prospects are much brighter,” Hastings said. “Recently, we have been modifying our major and course offerings in certain ways that will greatly improve the job-hunting prospects for our graduates, especially in archaeology (one of four branches of anthropology at CMU).”
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