Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Joke Is On Me

I wound up as a political science major when I was in college through no fault of my own. (No, it wasn't George Bush's fault either!)

Early in my life I knew I wanted to fly jets and that meant I needed to get an AF commission and that required a college degree. To get to the end goal I had to fill the intervening path. I didn't get into the Air Force Academy on my first try so I went to a school that had AFROTC. I could get my degree and my commission at the same time. What would be my major course of study? It didn't make much difference, so I drew upon my mis-spent youth playing with my Gilbert chemistry set in the basement. Test tubes and flasks with bubbling liquids changing colors were cool.

Little did I know what was involved with being a chemistry major, particularly in the years when cars, girls and beer competed for attention with differential equations and semi-micro quantitative analysis. I failed miserably by the end of my sophomore year.

Fortunately for me, the Professor of Air Science and the Dean of Students took mercy upon me and gave me the choice of leaving their school forever or switching to a liberal arts major. The only liberal arts majors offered at Illinois Institute of Technology were business, history and political science. I didn't like economics and number crunching. I didn't see myself in an archive exploring dusty manuscripts then possibly teaching sixth graders. That meant political science.

I switched majors. I got interested. I made the Dean's List and managed to recover enough to graduate in four years, right on time. Later the AF gave me the chance to pick up a master's degree in political science and another in international relations. For many years I joked that the only thing a bachelor's degree in poli-sci qualified you for was to sell used cars. If you got a master's you could sell new cars. Proceed to a PhD and you were capable of teaching others to sell used cars.

Now I see this:

Wall St. Journal Analysis of Pay For Degrees

Yes, you can make more money as an engineer or scientist. But if that's not your bag then stay away from teaching, business, psych, social work and art. Get yourself a political science degree and be a success!

If only I had known!

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