I love lists. I don’t know what it is, but anytime CMT has a “Top 40” of anything, I’m watching it.
Top 40 best county love songs? I’m there. Top 100 best one hit wonders? Yes, please. Fashion hits and misses at the Golden Globes? Sure, and oh, by the way — did you see Jessica Biel’s dress? Ewwww.
In other words, if you can provide me a breakdown of almost anything, you can bet I’m going to read it.
So, when a friend of mine posted a link to Yahoo.com’s list of “College Majors That Are Useless” on Facebook, you know I clicked on it.
That’s when I found out that my degree — the one that has afforded me internships, freelance work, job interviews, two jobs and a career that I very much enjoy — is actually useless.
That’s right. Agriculture degrees topped their list of useless degrees. And, just to make sure that they covered their bases, animal science held the no. 4 spot, with horticulture rounding out the top five.
So, wait a minute. Does that mean I wasted four years of my life in college studying agricultural communications? Actually — I’ve been a student of agriculture all my life. I grew up on a farm and spent a lot of time in 4-H and FFA. So, that must mean that I’ve wasted a whole lot more time than just four years.
Well, as it turns out, whether or not a degree is useless is really in the eye of the beholder — or, in this case, website.
The same day I found the Yahoo.com article, I also stumbled upon an article on AgWeb.com that cited the strong job outlook for agriculture (admittedly, the article was written in May 2011, but I think it still carries weight).
In fact, AgWeb.com noted that while unemployment was well over 9 percent in 2010, agriculture was the bright spot in the job market, with 3,000 new jobs posted each month to AgCareers.com.
Talk about contradicting statistics.
It’s important to point out that the Yahoo.com article did note that it created its list based on industries where jobs were not growing as quickly or where jobs were diminishing (in the case of production agriculture, because of technological advances). In the case of agriculture, that may well be true. But that’s not what makes me and many fellow agriculture degree holders upset.
What really gets me fired up is the fact that the author characterized agriculture degrees as “useless.” I know my degree isn’t useless because it’s putting food on my table (which is quite a feat when you’re married to a bottomless pit like I am). What’s more, agriculture degrees are putting food on the tables of Americans across the country.
But, that’s not the only thing that gets to me. The Yahoo.com article describes an agriculture degree like this:
“Still, if your idea of a good day is getting up with the sun and working till it sets as an agricultural manager, a degree in agriculture might be your calling.”
From that line alone, it’s plain to see that the author of the article — Terrence Loose — doesn’t have a clear view of the bigger picture. To him, an agriculture degree can only be used for farm work and managing a farming operation.
When discussing the impossibility of earning money with a horticulture degree, we get an even clearer picture:
“If you like the farm life, but aren’t all that keen on all the whining and clucking of an animal farm, perhaps a degree in horticulture is growing on you.”
Proof point that those of us holding agriculture degrees must have sifted through four years of undergraduate work — and maybe additional years of post-graduate work — to put on a pair of bibs, a straw hat and chase chickens around the barnyard.
What Mr. Loose clearly doesn’t know is that an agriculture-based degree is much more than an education on cows, sows and plows.
According to AgWeb.com, jobs posted to AgCareers.com ranged in industry type, including agronomy, biotechnology, and equipment and machinery. Those are all jobs that appeal to a large audience of job seekers and all jobs that are based in agriculture and can be obtained with some kind of agriculture degree.
What’s more, the jobs posted required a wide array of educational levels. A whopping 47 percent of jobs posted required at least a bachelor’s degree, while 24 percent required an associates diploma.
When it comes to agriculture, the choices are many and job opportunities broad. Sure, my career lies in communications, but I graduated from an agricultural college within a land grant university (GO ILLINI!) and the word ‘agricultural’ appears prominently before the word ‘communications’ on the degree hanging in my office. And, since I was offered a job before I graduated — all because of my agriculture knowledge and my ability to write — I’m pretty sure my four years earning an agriculture degree weren’t so useless after all.
And, I’m not the only one. How about a shout out to all of those agricultural business, technical systems management, crop science, agricultural economics and agricultural and biological engineering students and grads out there? Chances are, if you’re already in the workforce, you aren’t sitting on the front porch, chewing on a stalk of wheat.
*Note: I found out Thursday evening that I wasn’t the only ag grad who was fired up! If you’re a Facebook user, check out the page, “I Studied Agriculture & I Have A Job.” The page was started Thursday afternoon, just after the Yahoo.com article was published, and now has nearly 2,500 fans!