A major question

Posted: July 01, 2014

School's out for summer.

School's out forever.

School's been blown to pieces.

- "School's Out," Alice Cooper

SCHOOL'S OUT, and some of you (or people you know) will enter college in the fall and are thinking about a major, which means a course of study that leads to a job that (theoretically) pays a living wage. Education for its own sake is a blessing (theoretically), but, really, don't you want a j-o-b when you reach the end of the long, winding road known as higher education?

Back in the last century, when I went to school, we had limited choices for majors: English (or some useful foreign language), biology, mathematics, education, sociology, engineering. For the esoteric, there was philosophy, even though some wondered what kind of a j-o-b would result from that. (I know: Teaching philosophy. Kind of an intellectual Ponzi scheme.)

Philosophy was built on a foundation laid millennia ago by Socrates, Plato, Xenophanes, Aristotle, Thales. (Where would I be without Google?) But the study of hip-hop music at St. Paul's McNally Smith College of Music? Really? Fo' shizzle.

Starting in the '60s, with society getting a lot of seismic shocks, universities began opening their doors and course selection to the mushroom generation, many of whom wore American-flag patches on their jeans to show they were hip.

At the jump, let me say that you are free to study any damn thing you want, from astronomy (not astrology, kids, it's different) to zoology. Knock yourself out. Although some of the following majors make no sense to me, they might be "important" to you (and you may have parents who will provide you with a lifetime free ride).

The following majors were drawn mostly from the catalogs of America's Top 10 universities, researched for me by intern Dylan Segelbaum, and added to a list I created. (Thanks, Google.) By choosing journalism as a career, Dylan has some explaining to do.

Such as: Why did you overlook floral management at Mississippi State University? Everyone likes how flowers smell (unless you're allergic), it's indoor work and you see dead bodies only after they have been cleaned and laid out.

Better with your mouth than with your hands, Dylan? Learn auctioneering at Harrisburg Area Community College. (Learning to double-talk at high speed can lead directly to a high-pay, low-effort career in politics.)

If you are good with your hands and your mouth, the University of Connecticut has a degree in puppetry. Yes, dummy - puppetry! Jim Henson is dead, Dylan. There's room for you!

Puppetry is one way to entertain kids. Other ways are taught in nannying at Louisville's Sullivan University. Do not confuse this with nagging, taught at the New School for Social Research. (OK, I made that one up.)

A number of schools offer majors in peace studies. So nice. No majors in war studies. (Perhaps West Point, Annapolis or the Air Force Academy teach that.)

Many schools offer women's studies. (You want to hook up with chicks, Dylan?) Not one offers men's studies. That's just so wrong!

To throw in a few random majors, there's golf-course management (University of Maryland), bowling-industry management and technology (Indiana's Vincennes University), racetrack industry (University of Arizona), sport and recreation management (Temple).

Among the more useless majors offered by Berkeley is Bengali. (Fox News offers a major in Benghazi.)

A dreary number of schools offer American studies, Asian studies, African studies and European studies, but only a couple have Canadian studies. (Ice hockey and Moosehead, eh?)

If you want to select something with a guaranteed payoff, Dylan, try cannabis cultivation at Oaksterdam University in Oakland, Calif., or fermentation sciences at Appalachian State University in the moonshine belt.

I couldn't find a major in neocolonialism, Islamophobic studies or professional victimization, but that's right around the corner. Don't you agree, Dylan?


Email: stubyko@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5977

On Twitter: @StuBykofsky

Blog: ph.ly/Byko

Columns: ph.ly/StuBykofsky

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