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Except that the case of Jobs is a perfect illustration of the grandparent's point: he dropped out of Reed College because he couldn't justify the expense to himself. He audited the calligraphy class, and slept on floors and couches. So he didn't go $100k into debt to take those classes with the expectation it would land him a good job; he sat in on them because he was interested in them but recognized they were a bad investment.

I think Josh's point is that Jobs' success came from the inspiration he got from his calligraphy class— not an engineering degree. He was never really an engineer.

And I agree with him: many tech-oriented sites tend to think the only jobs that (should) exist end in "Science" or "Engineering". Does the entertainment industry not fuel economic growth? Would Netflix be popular if we didn't have movies and television shows to stream? Would smartphones be pushing the envelope if all they did was allow you to check your email and take calls? Do we not laud video games that have fantastic stories and artwork?

I've even seen commenters express superiority between the science degrees. For instance, "Computer Science isn't really a science. It's just math!" and, "You can't call yourself a software engineer! Real engineers get qualifications! Real engineers do something that can affect public safety!" are both common sentiments.

Why is this? Do these people really not see the importance of the liberal arts, even when their own work is heavily reliant on them?

The problem is that you can't have an engineering job without and engineering degree. Being a software engineer and being a software developer are two things. It's like saying you are mechanical engineer if you can use AutoCad. Why would I bother with the degree when I can read the manual.

Engineering is a process by which professionals create and better their surrounding harmoniously with nature and society. Software is also built like this.

However, to suggest that being a code monkey or a WOW tester is an 'engineering position' is a leap you can only make in software. Cause suggesting that someone who took 2 classes of AutoCad can build you a bridge is ludicrous.

You can, however, get a job in entertainment industry without a degree in the said field. And getting a degree in, let's say, singing, does not make you the next Madonna either.

Whereas taking an engineering degree make you an engineer.

And you can't possibly think Apple is successful cause Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class, do you? If so, you're in denial of what it really takes to do what he did.

If Jobs' success was based off of a calligraphy class then everyone who took calligraphy classes would be wildly successful, I should be wildly successful!

I guarantee you that if everyone had science/engineering degrees, Netflix would still be streaming movies and television. Just because I am going to school for an engineering degree doesn't mean I won't take a job in the music industry (nor do I need a formal system of education to play good music)

It seems like you've never talked to an engineer, as math is very highly regarded in the engineering world as it allows engineers to do most of what they do. On top of that design is also very highly regarded in the engineering world, as most of the things 'created' by engineers are 'designed' by engineers. Your senseless disconnect between science and math (and strong connection between math and liberal arts) is a whole other debate that I don't ever want to go into.

I can't even imagine hearing a respectful engineer talk down on computer science (or software engineers), I haven't met an engineer that has done this yet. In fact, most of the engineers I know started with computer science and then moved onto things such as ex. electrical engineering or mechanical engineering (and even vice-versa!)

You are also making the assumption that the entertainment industry is built off of people with liberal arts degrees, when it is exactly the opposite. The people who built the entertainment industry were people who had a burning passion.

I'm trying to make the point that design and engineering are practically the same thing.

It's supply and demand. The output from college isn't matching the needs of those hiring. There aren't enough qualified programmers, math types, etc. This isn't true for many other majors, yet our colleges output far more of these other majors.

I think that's because those majors appeal to more people. It makes sense that the most sought-after jobs are the ones that appeal to the least amount of people.

My completely uneducated opinion is that middle and high school should do what colleges are supposed to: prepare students for the real world with useful skills. Teach them how to teach themselves. Then, when they go to college, they can focus on a subject they really want and not treat it like Camp College™.

I think you mean that the most sought-after employees work in jobs that appeal to the least amount of people.

Surely if the job doesn't appeal to many people, it is an oxymoron to say it is the most sought-after job.

Sure, Jobs audited the calligraphy class, but he was able to do so because there was a liberal arts college running the class. The point is that the calligraphy class had substantial value later on, at least in the mind of Steve Jobs.

I'm not arguing against the existence of liberal arts colleges; I did a philosophy degree before going into computer science and I'm happy I did. I'm saying that Jobs' experiences and influences aren't really a counter-argument to the idea that people getting liberal arts and humanities degrees likely aren't doing so as a considered investment in their future earning potential.

No supporter of the liberal arts claims that it's the degree that counts. It's the education that counts. Jobs got his liberal education even if he didn't get his degree -- and it shows.

And really, a strategy that relies on you being Steve Jobs isn't exactly a strategy that necessarily works for anyone else.

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