Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Anthropologists

The U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard has updated its searchable database so students can see median earnings for disciplines in which 20 or more degrees are granted. Just for yuks, I checked the data for Virginia Commonwealth University where my son is enrolled. It will surprise no one to see that students earning computer science degrees will earn more than three times as much in their first year following graduation as those who earn degrees in drama, music and anthropology.

Parents, if your kid doesn’t consult this tool, you should! See what you’re getting for your investment in his or her college education. Find out how much you’ll have to subsidize the little darling when he graduates!


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11 responses to “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Anthropologists

  1. Ahh … but in their forties the anthropology majors will be hopping mad at an Elizabeth Warren rally (or whatever socialist is on the scene) insisting that the game is rigged and those 1 percenters or 10 percenters with their computer science degrees only made a lot more money through nepotism or outright thievery.

  2. Looking at that chart, if you had to make student loans with your own money (expecting to be repaid with interest) where would you draw the line? Now, do you think our hapless government asks this question as they guarantee loan after loan?

  3. This chart needs to be taken with a large grain of salt. First, it is limited to students receiving federal financial aid. Second, it is limited to the first full year after receiving degree (many folks may be looking for a job in those months; teachers would not be earning during some of those months), and, lastly, and most importantly, the table is based on school-reported data (how completely do schools report, do computer science departments keep better track of their graduates than the anthropology depts.; where do the schools get their data–from students?; which student are more likely to tell their colleges how much they are making in their first year?, etc, etc.)

    • @Dick Hall-Sizemore, certainly much data is imperfect, but this is a start. Until recently, no one tracked this and made it publicly available. There are studies which offer few employment opportunities. Some of those graduates turn around and teach the next assembly of students (anthropology majors become anthropology professors). While I love anthropology and what it reveals, I knew that I’d have a hard time making a living at it.

      I have an even bigger beef with arts degrees…if you want to be an artist, go be an artist, learn “on the job.” The Cleveland Institute of Art was $57,210 total cost last school year, probably hitting $60K next fall. What ceramicist is ever going to be solvent after spending $240,000? I’m convinced that art departments/schools serve primarily the teachers earning a steady, comfortable salary higher than they would ever make within their medium, not the students.

      Going back to LarrytheG’s lament, at least the imperfect College Scorecard takes off blinders and may help families to make informed choices.

  4. Computer science is lucrative, but if you aren’t interested in it, you won’t do well in that field or in life.

  5. Being happy in life is as important as being financially well-off – to some and perhaps ought to be to more.

    We make choices with respect to what we want but I doubt that few really want to be poor – as a life goal.

    On the other hand , there are those among us who are born with entrepreneurial hearts and brains and it don’t matter if their training is in math or the arts – they’ll be successful at making money from their work.

    Some of us knew from an early age what we wanted to do – and some of us at age 70 did don’t know!

    but nothing entitles you to make fiscally irresponsible decisions.

    You pays your money and take your choices.

    Don’t be blaming higher-education “unaffordable” tuition for your own dumb mistakes.

    We got too many folks already who want to blame others for their own mistakes.

  6. Why, religion/religious studies is not even on the list! What should I be making? I did take enough Anthro classes that I might have made it into a minor, and a knowledge of the field proved useful in understanding the tribal customs and rituals of Richmond (more than a few fossils to study). What you should be learning in college is how to learn and how to think, write, argue, etc. I’m a huge advocate for liberal arts, but only if they achieve that result. You should come out worried about how little you know, not impressed by how much you think you do.

    • There weren’t enough religion/philosophy degrees granted by VCU to exceed the 20-student cutoff for reporting the numbers. If the numbers were available, I expect they’d be right up there with the anthropologists and music majors!

  7. re: ” … learning in college is how to learn and how to think, write, argue, etc. I’m a huge advocate for liberal arts, but only if they achieve that result. You should come out worried about how little you know, not impressed by how much you think you do.”

    Poly-science is another one of those degrees that is what you end up making of it.

    and yes… it’s a heck of a thing that for some of us that it takes a lifetime to release that how much you know versus how much you don’t is not what you think when younger.

    However, I DO give entrepreneurs credit for being adaptable enough to realities to figure out how that part works and being proactive enough to ride that horse while many, many more are lifes nervous nellies.

  8. There are only 20 anthropology majors. Looking at this from another angle, there are 555 psychology majors that are subsidizing a significant amount of the cost of the majors at the bottom of the list (the ones that make the most money).

    • Gawd – I’d consider anthropology as more useful than psychology!


      A lot of degrees like this – over time – turn into an additional degree…like teaching or some other in-demand degree.

      Also, folks should keep in mind, liberal arts or not – virtually every piece of teachnology you use whether it’s cell phones, GPS, miracle drugs, high speed internet, etc. – it comes from folks who have significant hard-science degrees… no two ways about it. Without those folks, we’d still be living with older technologies instead of being the most advanced in the world.

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