back to article You're more likely to get a job if you study 'social' sciences, say fuzzy-studies profs

There's great news this week for young persons who'd like to get a good job one day but don't want to do much work at university. A report just out says that actually there's no need to get a tough degree in real science, maths, engineering, medicine, IT or similar - in fact, you don't want one of those. What you want, …

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The other arts subjects are soft, but not my one...

I studied Philosophy as a first degree and I can't imagine a better foundation for working as a programmer- a solid training in analytical thinking and a good understanding of logic and problem analysis is more useful in my day to day work than the operating system design and formal system algebra courses my computer science peers were studying.

Of course, I only know that because I went on to study computer science afterwards ( turns out there's not much money in Philosophy ) so I guess I'm not pure fuzzy anyways.

Also a subject with a long reading list and not too many lectures a week is way more conducive to an enjoyable university life. Back when one didn't incur a lifetime of debt by going to university, that was actually a real thing. I still feel that it is important for people to enjoy youth for the brief flash it is afforded to them, not just having to work three jobs to finance a degree course they don't even really want to be on except that everyone else in the job market will have one.

That said, if I was in charge soft degrees would subsidise hard ones, both for national economic purposes and for the betterment of humanity.

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Happy

Soft Subject Backronym

From my previous thoughts on the ClockWomble (Tm) thread regarding Coding skills and STEM subjects. I made a landgrab for a Backronym for our poor neglected soft skills cousins..

My suggestion was HARTS Humanities, Arts and Social studies sorry science

In the finest tradition of converting TLA's to ETLA's ( extended TLA's) can I propose the addition of Politics and Philosopy to the Brand giving

PPHARTS.

Now to complete the picture imagine the civil service interview board..

"Well now Mr\Ms <insert name here> How did you do at Oxbridge"

" After three years of studying PPHARTS I got a first in PPHARTS then on my Gap year I was able to apply my PPHARTS to real world problems, I hope to take my skills in PPHARTS to a higher level in the Treasury."

Where's YouTube when you need it..

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Not sure what higher education is like in the UK, but I'd suggest talking to social sciences students outside your country, head on to the Eastern block and I bet you a beer, or a case, or even a truck; sociology, psychology or any other degree for that matter is hard work. There is no need or reason to look down at certain degrees. You really should focus on what you do best - rather a great sociologist than a mediocre tech. If you are good, and you put a brain behind a degree, chances are, your career will be fine. If you follow any trends for the heck of it, with little regard for your own abilities and talents, you will struggle, unless of course, you're lucky by nature, in which case, it's better to take your chances at a lottery.

In my opinion, there are three types of people that get jobs and advance their careers no matter what happens around - those that are good at what they do, those that have connections, an those that are not necessarily great but hard working.

While it's common nowadays to move all over the place searching for jobs, not everyone can or wants to. There is little point to studying fancy tech if you can't or aren't willing to go where the work is, in which case, a social science degree gives you a much bigger flexibility as you can target jobs where you are, in any industry, including tech, should there be some.

Last thing we'd want is for every high school grad to run to a tech college/uni - there needs to be balance. The general attitude in the article is very one sided and narrow minded.

There isn't a right or wrong - it's a matter of personal choices, capabilities and opportunities. There is no such thing as a future proof profession. It's an individual's attitude that makes the most difference, not the certificate behind one.

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Maybe...

A number of surgeon friends of mine that I have known since uni (neuro and orthopaedic) always struggle with essays, writing, presentations and sometimes general communication. Maybe that's where social scientists excel and why they make up a high proportion of managers rather than being IT peons...

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Re: Maybe...

Most of the medical practitioners I know of (hey, I'm in a hospital, so that's a good number) have no problem stating things eloquently and lucidly. A few possibly don't, and that's where you have dictaphones and medical secretaries.

Good managers are good managers irrespective of where they come from, but they better understand the parameters of their remit (non-IT managers in an intensely IT technical arena are extremely hamstrung in their effectiveness).

Interestingly enough, referring to IT staff as "peons" is a very quick way to end up with any of your projects that require any form of tech engagement to be put towards the end of the list (hint; it's a lot of projects, and the list can be long). If that's your attitude, damn glad I'm not somewhere you're a manager.

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Psychology is a nice, easy subject

...because helping someone come to terms with being sexually abused, talking someone out of suicide or handling bipolar patients is really easy...right?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Psychology is a nice, easy subject

Is that really what most psychology graduates do? Most of the ones I knew at college seem to work in HR now.

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Re: Psychology is a nice, easy subject

No it won't be, but are you seriously telling me that what every psychology student does? Because that's not true.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Psychology is a nice, easy subject

Given that the article says that the number one area of work for social sciences graduates is Social Work, I think it is fair to say that whilst not EVERY graduate dose those things many do.

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Re: Psychology is a nice, easy subject @AC

"Is that really what most psychology graduates do? Most of the ones I knew at college seem to work in HR now."

Well it’s a good thing they poll more people than your circle of friends to get a better understanding, I'm sure there is a psychiatrist who’s friends with IT degree are all in that 49% that don’t work in IT, thinking, hmmm all my friends with IT degrees work in Burger King…

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Mushroom

Re: Psychology is a nice, easy subject

> Is that really what most psychology graduates do? Most of the ones I knew at college seem to work in HR now.

And would they actually achieve anything if they were actual therapist or would they just suck the life out of your bank account for a result you could have gotten from a hooker or a priest?

Pretending you're helping the client and actually helping the client are two entirely different things.

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Re: Psychology is a nice, easy subject

> the number one area of work for social sciences graduates is Social Work

That doesn't mean that a majority work in social work.

If psychology leads to a wide range of jobs - then 10% might be social workers, 9% in HR, 8% in fast food, 7% in subway music playing etc etc

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Zoology vs Drama

Way back when I were a lad, I did an undergrad BSc in Zoology, and my GF was doing a BA in Drama & Theatre studies. You only had to do a comparison of our schedules. I did approximately 36 hours per week of scheduled lectures, practicals and projects. She had a 1 hour tutorial session, and the occasional rehearsal.

I remember ending a hectic week, in which I did the normal 36 hours plus about an extra 25 hours of counting Callosobruchus Maculata eggs (tiny things) on cowpeas (small things) and crunching the stats for my thesis. I got home and asked her how her week was and she held up a papier mache mask (with a bent nose) and proudly said "I made this!".

Ever since then I have been ever so slightly prejudiced against liberal arts graduates...

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Re: Zoology vs Drama

I think this article would (wrongly) lable Zoology as a soft course, just saying...

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People are missing the point about the article.

... which is surely to keep the flow of people deciding to do 'a degree' coming thick and fast, no matter how thick or slow they might be, or how much more useful it may be to just 'learn on the job'.

University (or a big chunk of it) is nothing more than an industry predicated on the dodgy suggestion that if you borrow obscene amounts of money to attend the University of Spleen for 3 years to study universitology or whatever, that you will reap untold riches, which will make the obscene cost, the delay in actually working, and the extra damage to your liver all worth it.

But really, as long as you attend and fill the seats, they really don't care what your life-outcome is. But they must pretend that it's good, otherwise the masses may decide to do something more useful instead.

I would have preferred them to make the 'old university' world free for people studying 'hard stuff that we need people to do', leaving the hairdressing and restaurant management study to be what it has always been - something best learned 'on the job'.

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In the UK you're not really borrowing the money, you're agreeing to pay an additional tax for a fixed period, after which the tax payer picks up the bill (something like GBP 30 billion per year at current prices).

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Anonymous Coward

People are missing the point about the article.

Which is the typical Lewis Page click bait. Wish I'd noticed the byline before I'd wasted my time reading the article.

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"University (or a big chunk of it) is nothing more than an industry predicated on the dodgy suggestion that if you borrow obscene amounts of money to attend the University of Spleen for 3 years to study universitology or whatever, that you will reap untold riches, which will make the obscene cost, the delay in actually working, and the extra damage to your liver all worth it."

Would you like to join our PR department?

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Coat

What If?

If putting a man on the moon had been left to Social Scientists they would have spent 5 years discussing how the moon would feel about having it's personal space invaded, built the vehicle out of ethically sourced bamboo, and then, when the astronauts all died, they'd sit around wringing their hands moaning ”Oh, lessons will be learned”.

I don't know which is worse; Universities churning out so many of these people, or businesses thinking that they are worth employing.

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Re: What If?

What if treating people for psychological issues was left to people who studied science, we would end up with PTSD patients being doped up on drugs to treat the effects and not the cause.

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Re: What If?

Essentially, many of them are. Researchers in the field of psychiatry which lead to the treatments are the ones who break the ground (backed up with neurological scans, biochemical analysis etc.), and get to prove the results, rather than rely on quackery. Once the results are in, and methodologies laid down, the less qualified practitioners get their side in the field (hey, I studied hypnotherapy long ago, and took a strong interest in behavioural psychology as part of my comp-sci degree; the part that had me going into AI and ALife).

If science hadn't been applied, we'd still be exorcising the PTSD patients.

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Re: What If? @Juillen 1

Im not saying PTSD sufferers don’t get treated with drugs, in the same way the Apollo astronauts would have had psychological examinations as well, its not one or the other

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Anonymous Coward

PAH

I used to be the office dogs body making the teas and coffees. Then one day I saw an advert on the TV set for an on-line computer course. One year later and I'm a top software games designer with an expensive company car and my own detached house!

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Anonymous Coward

The study appears to ignore

That quite a few with BA degrees, and degrees in soft sciences, go on to take an intensive one year intensive MSc in something likely to get them employed,.

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"What Do Social Science Graduates Do? "

Flip burgers?

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Lewis, you snob!

That article would have offended about 50% of my social circle!

:-)

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clueless

er, i'm not an idiot or anything, but can someone explain to me what Sociology actually is? What are the aims of the profession? What are they hoping to achieve with this "Sociology"?

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Re: clueless

Sociology is the study of people in groups (i.e., society).

The aim of the profession is to understand how groups of people interact.

If you interact with other people at all, then sociology affects you. Even in a comments forum.

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I read Computer Science at a good uni, starting 2004. My significant other read philosophy. We both achieved good degrees and now work in fields related to our studies. We are well respected at work and take home a similar amount of pay. I can tell you who worked harder at university, it certainly wasn't me. The idea that Philosophy (and many other BA degrees) is somehow a soft subject is absurd. Sciences require skill which is not required in many BA subjects, and equally the BA subjects require a great deal of skill that is not required in many sciences, and in the case of Philosophy at least, a lot longer hours and hard graft.

Some people who look down their noses at BA degrees need to get their head out their own rectum and try one. And trying a first year unit doesn't quite cut it.

Also, I have a number of friends who are teachers, and far from being 'doomed' to do it, they set out to become one, and enjoy it. Crazy isn't it, someone enjoying something that you would not.

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Psychology? East Breezy Softy Science? Maybe Back in 1960...

Batching psychology in there, Mr. Page? Come say that to my face while I'm calculating a two-way factorial analysis of variance by hand, reviewing the principles of synaptic integration or inducing you into a light hypnotic state to kill that pesky anxiety problem you've got with the ladies.

Easy peasy my ass. Have you even looked at a modern-day psychology degree requirements curriculum?

The "ladies" snark was a low blow but hey, tit for tat. One unfounded claim for another. If you're gonna trash my degree, I expect you to at least do your research and back up your position with evidence. Like what you did so beautifully in the last paragraph of your poignant analysis :-P

Cheers!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Psychology? East Breezy Softy Science? Maybe Back in 1960...

It sounds as though psychology is as easy as it is scientific.

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A collegaue of mine has a sign on his office wall reading

The science graduate asks "How does it work?"

The engineering graduate asks "How is it made?"

The economics gradute asks "How much does it cost?"

The social science gradute asks "Would you like fries with that?"

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Anonymous Coward

@nijam 14:04

Sounds like he uses it to bolster his sense of self-worth. He should see a psychologist :)

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Re: @nijam 14:04

My guess is he can't afford one.

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I have a BS in Liberal Arts and Sciences with a major in Psychology and started to to work in IT the day after I graduated. I have worked on a lot of complex transportation systems include optimization algorithm development, but I never found a need for the calculus or physics that I did take. But the writing skills that I acquired back them have really paid off when I needed to write specifications and other technical documentation.

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In summary...

An engineering graduate writes an article about some social science research. The research suggests social science graduates are more likely to get a job. The engineering graduate notes it's likely to be a crap one.

In the ensuing discussion, everyone views any subject they didn't do as:

(1) Piss easy

(2) Deathly dull

(3) Both

I'm no exception.

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I worked in a STEM department of a pretty good university for a few years. There was some great graffiti in the undergrad's bogs - "Social Science Degrees, please take one" - directly under the bogroll dispenser :)

But seriously, as an elec. eng. at the time, I'm sure I could have designed many wonderful consumer gadgets but, 1. I wouldn't have identified a need for them. 2. They would have been functional but ugly.

I think we probably need people with "soft" degrees to make stuff marketable, get inside the heads of consumers etc.

That graffiti still makes me laugh 20 years on though ;)

SD

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I will say, the teachers and social workers I know tend to the happiest about their career, if not their compensation. It says a lot about both the UK and US that we laud those who sit in a cube, take orders, and do the 21st century equivalent of the assembly line work (myself included), but we gleefully take the piss on those who dare to do something they enjoy for less money, less respect, and even less safety. For example my wife, a teacher, has been physically and verbally assaulted doing her job, both by students and parents, while the worse I have to worry about in my cube farm is a pissy email from some colleague who thinks red, bolded font is threatening. I've also never been barricaded in my cube by coworkers who decided to stage a riot, or had people intentionally distract me so a partner can sneak into my cube and steal from my backpack.

Perhaps as a whole, we should really rethink what we venerate and why those who are unhappy about how little control they have over their work situation are somehow "better" than those who take risks.

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I'm an Arts graduate of many years ago who has to concentrate very hard to understand anything even mildly technical, and who continues to have great respect for the amount of work my Engineering friends had to do to memorize all those formulae and figure out all those right answers, a problem we did not face because in our fields there are no formulas, and there is no right answer. Our retort to 'fuzzy studies' was 'trained seals', but it takes a bright seal to do complicated tricks. What we had to do was to be cogent and original over 25 pages on something like 'Animal Imagery and the Supernatural in MacBeth', from which experience we would, it was hoped, learn to be comfortable with and communicate in complex real-world ideas. That is something that is hard to quantify, which is why technicians and libertarians don't like it.

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Anonymous Coward

Hidden sexism?

Are the apparently poor career outcomes for sociology etc graduates linked to the disproportionate representation of women in these fields?

If most of them are at home with the kids for their twenties then that would create a bias in the sampling, likewise if any of them were subject to some kind of sex discrimination.

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Anonymous Coward

Hidden bias: toffs?

We know from prince wotsisname that people who study art history or theology are often those with no need to ever work for a living, beyond a quick chitchat with their estate manager once a year.

Could this be creating an appearance of negative outcomes for degrees of this sort separate to the question of their actual utility? Would a sociologist be able to answer this question for me please?

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I've found that a holder of a fluffy social science degree can easily walk into an almost-as-fluffy computing Masters degree course and end up being my boss, earning three times as much as me.

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So what's your point? That they are better than you?

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Anonymous Coward

Seriously?

What a bunch of insufferably arrogant and pompous children. I am guessing (or hoping) from most of these comments, that the majority of you haven't actually finished your degrees and are suffering under the weight of your own social ineptitude and intellectual insecurities. Maybe you are trying to counteract this by pretending that because you do 'hard' degrees that you are somehow more relevant to society...you really aren't, you are delusional (and with most of you having Psychology degrees by proxy because you lived with someone for a year or two or did someone's homework once, you'll understand delusions, particularly those of grandeur). I pity those of you who end up in the job market wondering why you don't get promoted, or pretending that your 'hard' job justifies your meager salary. No doubt you'll be toadying for praise from some arts graduate wheeled in to massage your fragile ego (see above) now and then to keep you in line. Go down to the basement, crack open the coca-cola and enjoy your junk food...I am sure the economy would fail without you (well, advertising revenue from lolcats would probably suffer).

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