Useless College Degrees

By Jim Whitt

I read an article that listed the five most useless college degrees and found out my degree is number four on the list. This really upset me. I paid a lot for that degree.

Actually, a pretty good argument could be made that all college degrees are worthless. I have a nephew who graduated from high school last year and will make over $80,000 in his first year working for an oilfield service company. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were college dropouts and became billionaires.

We have been conditioned to believe that to be successful we’re supposed to go to college and get a degree. Having a contrarian bent I decided against attending college and instead enlisted in the army after graduating from high school.  If you want evidence of just how ignorant I am, this was during the Vietnam War. Other guys were going to college hoping to get deferments and here I was trying to join. But I couldn’t pass the Army’s entrance exam — I flunked my physical.

Rejected by Uncle Sam for having a bad back I enrolled at Northern Oklahoma College as an art major. After three semesters I decided I didn’t want to join the ranks of starving artists so I dropped out. I worked in a feedyard for a few months, worked on a hog farm a few months, then worked for the Oklahoma Methodist Boys Ranch for a few months and was fired.

So, what do you do when the Army and the Methodists don’t want you? I applied at Oklahoma State University. Fortunately they weren’t nearly as picky as the military and the church — they actually accepted me. Of course I had to pay them instead of getting paid. I switched my major to animal science and managed to graduate with a 3.00015 grade point average. Finally, I had succeeded at something! And now, 35 years later I find out that my degree is a dud.

It’s worth keeping in mind that this article about useless degrees was posted on the Yahoo! Education website and was written by a guy named Terence Loose. I’m not making this up. Yahoo! Education has to be the ultimate oxymoron. Put Yahoo! Education and Loose in the same sentence and you’ve got the makings of a Saturday Night Live skit. According to Loose, the most useless degree is just plain old agriculture. Fashion design is number 2, theatre is number 3, animal science is number 4 and horticulture is number 5. So, three of his five most useless degrees are in agriculture. All I have to say about that is, “Yahoo!”

I’ll admit I’m biased but I think there are much more worthless degrees than agriculture. My nominations are law, political science and the infamous MBA (masters of business administration). Does the world really need more lawyers and politicians? And think about all those too-big-to-fail corporations we had to bail out. They were run by MBAs!

We’ll have to double food production by the year 2050 to feed 9 billion people and I don’t think lawyers, politicians and MBAs will be the ones to figure out how to get that done. It’ll be up to us aggies to feed the world.

Granted, my animal science degree hasn’t made me a millionaire but it helped get me jobs with a couple of feed companies. Then I discovered the best use for my degree was as a management consultant. We share 98.4% of the same genes with chimpanzees.  What better degree could I have chosen to deal with people than animal science?

So, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last twenty-some years — traveling around speaking at meetings, consulting with companies and writing books and articles. And I actually get paid to do it! So, don’t tell me my degree in animal science is useless.

Editor’s note: I know you have friends and relatives who will be graduating soon so if you want to give them something that will actually help them figure out what to do with their lives consider The Transformational Power of Purpose: Finding & Fulfilling Your Purpose in Life. You’ll find it and my other books at

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