According to a story on Yahoo! I have a useless degree. Yep, according to the folks at the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), an agricultural degree is a waste of a student’s money. Of the top five useless majors in NACE's 2012 Job Outlook Survey, three were agricultural majors. Now, I meet a lot of people starting careers in agriculture, and it’s not often that I hear of a student graduating with an agricultural major hurting to find employment.
Ag industry leaders also appear aggravated at the thought that higher education in agriculture could be a wasted degree. The three specific degrees listed were agriculture, animal science and horticulture.
Penn State Ag Dean Bruce McPheron took to Twitter in response, saying, “Agriculture degrees worthless? We disagree and I'm sure we're not alone."
He then added a link to a USDA study stating an additional 5 percent of agricultural graduates will be needed to fill a growing ag job demand.
Katherine Knowlton, Virginia Tech dairy science professor and student adviser, said of the spring 2011 graduates, “all but one student had a job one month after graduation. And in this economy, that’s pretty good. Agribusiness recruiter.
Jason Lenhst from Iowa said on Twitter, “College of agriculture job placement rate within six months of graduation is above 90 percent. National average is below 50 percent.
My own story supports the statistics. True, I did not have a job at graduation, but I was employed in an agricultural job within a month. And the delay was not because of opportunity in industry, but the fact I limited the geographic area in which I was willing to work.
The Yahoo writer took a very narrow view of who employs ag graduates. The writer missed the fact that many students are also employed in the support industries as well as on the farm or in the laboratory. They work in agribusiness, agricultural lending, government, sales and veterinary practices, as well as on the farm.
So, to all those “experts” I think you missed the boat. My final example, Lancaster Farming always has listings of ag employers looking for qualified employees. Check out the reports and tell us what you think.
Here are the links:
USDA’s report: Employment Opportunities for College Graduates.
Yahoo Education: College Majors That Are Useless.
-- Charlene M. Shupp Espenshade, Special Sections Editor
Editor’s note: Charlene Espenshade has a bachelor’s degree in dairy science from Virginia Tech. She is also a fourth generation dairy farmer, raising registered Holsteins and Guernseys.