In Defense of a Useless Degree

A blogger friend tweeted this article the other day.  And as I adore Nap and that she keeps me inform, I read the article.  Basically it floats around the idea that we encourage college students to get degrees with the greatest return on investment.  You know, so they don’t feel like they’re just blowing their money. (The article does mention at the end, it shouldn’t be the only criteria, but still….)  Other than the fact that as we pump the world with business people and lawyers, we might overindulge and therefore make those majors worthless, I would argue that getting the useable degree is not for everyone or most everyone.   Like me.

I worked my ass off in high school to get to college.  I worked hard in school.  I swam, did drama, and was an Honor Society Member.  I lettered 9 times.  I babysat whenever I could get a job, and I saved almost all of my money.  I applied to a dozen schools and applied for dozens of scholarships.  I was driven.  Hell, one of the reasons I didn’t date in high school (besides the fact I had brothers who taught me that teenage boys were just a few years more evolved than a chimp) was that I refused to fall in love and be derailed from my goal.  College.  Out of state college.

When I searched for colleges, I found the degree I wanted.  Creative Writing.  It fit.  Like a gong inside of me.  That was my major. That was my calling.  Not drama.  Not English.  Not religion.  Not marine biology.  Creative Writing.

And that went less than well.

“Hey, Fae, what is the most asked question of liberal arts majors?”

-“Do you want fries with that?”

“Fae, guess what the liberal arts major said to the lawyer?”

-“Do you want fries with that?”

“Fae, I bet you haven’t heard this one-”

-“Do you want fries with that?  I heard it when I was twelve.”

Get some new material.  Honestly, the clan told the joke in a dozen different ways.

And then there was my mother.

“You’re wasting your time.  You’re wasting your money.  What kind of job are you going to get?  You don’t want to be a teacher.  If you want to save the world.  If you want to help women, then go into law.  You can do law.  You’re smart enough.”

“Mom.  It’s my decision.”

I chose a school with my degree and went off on it.  And then I filled every open credit space with whatever took my fancy.  Chemistry.  Philosophy.  Religion.  Psychology.  Sociology.  Women’s Studies.  I was all over the map.  So much so that the registrar called me up one early morning at 8:30 to ask me what my major was.  I came in declared.  Geeze.

All the while my mother complained.

Until I got a job for the Dean of the Law School.

“Miss ———-, have you ever considered a career in law?”

The Dean was the age of my grandfather and had only moved out of the South recently.  A man of his era and place.  I gave him liberties that I never allowed anyone else.  Like humoring him when he asked me to make coffee and asking how was I going to be a good wife if I didn’t know how to make my husband his coffee.

“No, sir.  I never have.”

Which was lie, but I disregarded the thought mere minutes after conceiving it.

“You are a very bright young woman, Miss ——–.  May I ask your GPA?”

I told him.

“Now that is a solid GPA.  You do well on your LSATs, and every law school will be fighting to get you.  I’ll tutor you myself.”

“There’s one problem, sir.  My degree is Creative Writing.  I hardly think any law school would want a writer of fairy tales.”

“Nonsense.  Give me a student who can write over a pre-law student any day.  My dear, you can write and communicate, and that is what is needed in law.  You must be able to communicate your point effectively.  And since I know this school has a fine English department and I have also seen your work in our brochure, you will be a fine addition to any law school.”

“Thank you, sir.  But I don’t think it’s my cup of tea.”

“Just think about it, Miss ———-.  And fairy tales, you say?  You’ll have to let me read one some day.”

“I’ll make you a copy the next time I borrow the machine.”

You can imagine my mother was thrilled.  And for two years, the Dean never let off on that idea.

I learned several things in college.  But one was to follow my bliss.  Later in life, I couldn’t just get the degree I wanted because I felt an obligation to spend the family money wisely.  I had worked hard for those four years, and I grabbed what called to me, and I was happy.  I never had one regret even after applied for hundreds of jobs in a worthless pursuit for work, which is how I stumbled into the fascinating career of cashiering.  At least I wasn’t asking, “Do you want fries with that?”

Besides how boring of a world would it be to have it filled with business and pre-law majors?


One Response to “In Defense of a Useless Degree”

  1. Multifarious meanderings Says:

    I studied French, because I loved French. Literature, languge, history,politics: simply because I wanted to know more, and live in France. I’m a firm believer in working to live, not living to work: and the most important thing in life, as you say, is to be happy.

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