Comment, Student Life

College Diaries#2: The knowledge that Courses through your veins

As June approaches, many new graduates will descend on the job market across the world which begs the question “What is a bachelor’s degree worth?”.

The answer seems to be that different college majors have different values, in terms of their monetary payoff. Salary website Payscale.com reports that the majors with the highest earning potential are all related to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. For example, a degree in petroleum engineering would give a graduate a starting salary of 94,600$ followed by a degree in actuarial mathematics and in actuarial science providing an immediate return of 56,400$ and 61,200$ respectively.

So where does this leave non-STEM, liberal arts majors?

Employment website Monster.ca reports that completing any form of university education is still the best way to succeed financially in Canada although it concedes that certain majors are in higher demand in the job market than others.  A bachelor’s degree holder earns 30% more than an individual without any degree while a master’s degree or PhD holder can increase their earnings by an additional 15%.  Individuals with degrees professional degrees like commerce, nursing an engineering have a higher earning premium than those in the social sciences, life sciences and humanities. Therefore, some kind of degree is better than no degree at all.

A liberal arts degree, however, provides a different set of benefits, some of which may helpful in a competitive job market. Writing for the Globe & Mail, Scott Stirret observes that the benefit of studying a popularly reviled humanities subject can give one considerable intercultural and communication skills which can be very useful in a rapidly evolving, global work environment. He also suggests that it is the interest of all types of companies to hire individuals from different academic backgrounds, challenging the myth that organizations only hire one type of candidate.  In his book In Defense of a Liberal Education, which I had the pleasure of reading, Fareed Zakaria notes that a liberal arts education gives an individual the ability to keep learning which is a valuable skill to have in a dynamic work environment where the type of skills one needs to remain competitive keeps changing.

Conventionally high earning majors such as computer science can provide graduates with immediate financial certainty and professional clarity which is decidedly harder for liberal arts graduates to achieve. That does not mean, however, that all the non-STEM graduates are about to go extinct. Their degree teaches them how to adapt to different circumstances, giving them a freedom of a different kind.

 

Comment, Satire

Collaborative collapse

Every time I step out on to the street in Mumbai my inner sociologist marvels.

A city teeming with people in every nook and corner, Mumbai has much to offer to the observant eye. I am, however, going to focus once again on the traffic in the city. Only this time I want to share what it tells me about the prevalent individual and collective mindset.

The first thing one sees in the city is the lets-get-this-done attitude which many before me have witnessed. This is evident in the scores of people pouring onto the streets to get to work even when it is, literally, pouring outside.

As someone who has grown up in Mumbai I find the level of rage on every other face on the roads, however, alarming. This is because such a collective attitude can result in a total breakdown of law and order.

And it does. It is evident in the screeching cacophony of car horns on a road where traffic has not moved for hours. It is seen in the critical mass of people needed for an individual to safely cross the road. It is visible in the crass consumerism abundant in the city as the country rediscovers its wealth after the shattering  economic impact of colonization and decolonization.

But most frightening, and criminologically engaging, is the blatant disregard for any rules that inconveniences an individual, rich or poor. Almost everyone turns a blind eye to the traffic signals, crossing the road can occasionally turn into mudslinging matches between drivers and pedestrians and the mob appears to cherish a chance to display its might.

Its almost as if every individual has signed a social contract with the state to disregard the law in return for its protection.

Excuse the deliberate, alternate application of Thomas Hobbes’ ideas,will you?

unsplash-logoIgor Ovsyannykov