Did you see the story about the 10 college degrees that result in the lowest pay checks? The article was based on information from U.S. Census surveys.
When I saw the headline, "10 Worst Paying College Degrees" on Yahoo News, I suspected that some of the subjects I love would be on the list.
And sure enough, they were – drama was 10th on the list, fine arts was 9th, education was 7th, music was 3rd, theology was 2nd and social work was the number 1 lowest paying college major.
I also love biology, astronomy, anthropology, history and literature, but none of them made it to the top-10.
These subjects endlessly interesting, enriching and fun. Who doesn’t like a great play or movie or concert? Who doesn’t enjoy making music or listening to it? Likewise, who doesn’t enjoy a great speech, a powerful essay or sermon, or an inspiring story? Who doesn’t like staring at a starry sky, oooohing over the Milky Way? Who doesn’t enjoy sharing their skill or knowledge with others?
I’m intrigued by articles implying that the primary goal of a college education is a big paycheck. As if money is the be-all and end-all in life. It isn’t. There is so much more than money to make one feel alive and fulfilled and happy.
But then, I’m a writer and my often-modest, irregular checks testify that money has never been primary for me. Still, my life feels full, rich and rewarding and much of that is a direct result of college.
Here are a few gifts college gave me.
- It gave me time and space to explore. College was the only time in my life when I was free to explore ideas and fields of endeavor. I learned about subjects I’d never even heard of before arriving on campus. And some of those subjects led to life-long friendships. Some of those subjects led me on fascinating intellectual journeys.
- It introduced me to students, teachers, administrators and others who I would never have known in my pre-college life. These people were and were becoming leaders in the world. Now, decades after college graduation, I can phone old friends who are bank presidents, state officials, presidents of colleges and other institutions, CEOs, attorneys, dentists, publishers. In other words, if I need top-notch advice in a certain field, I likely know someone from my college days who can give it to me.
- It taught me how to listen to more than one view of an issue and weigh the arguments for and against in order to come to an informed decision of my own.
- It taught me how to find the answer when I have a question or dilemma. I no longer have to feel lost or helpless when I don’t immediately know the answer I need.
- It taught me that no matter how much I know, what I know is but a drop in the great ocean of what I still have to learn. That insight helps keep me humble. And humility is an honorable characteristic that attracts honorable friends.
- It gave me time to be creative, to think new thoughts, to engage in long and fascinating conversations.
- It allowed me to "sit at the feet" of masters who had spent their entire careers studying one interesting subject as deeply and broadly as possible. For a semester or two, these masters shared their life-long findings with me. They’d answer my questions, point me to other books or scholars in the field, and share what they loved in such a way that it made me love it too.
It’s commencement time, so I offer all the high school and college graduates my best wishes as they commence with the full and fascinating life awaiting them.
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