One quick example ... my son was taking a 400-level IST class on Enterprise Architecture at Penn State from a very vague professor with a Philosophy degree. When asked to define Enterprise Architecture, he rambled on for half an hour before concluding that "you really can't define it ... kind of like Electrical Engineering". He was pretty flustered when one of the students read him the IEEE definition of Electrical Engineering. So this is an example of the type of person you don't want to hire.
For an example of the type of Philosopher that can help you move forward, read this comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6390914. A person like this is good with program logic, but is also trained to recognize false arguments, inconsistencies, etc when you're debating how to build something. Want to get political agendas and personal biases out of the way? Hire this guy!
I go to UPenn, and the pre-professionalism defines the school. The students, especially those in Wharton, do almost nothing between the hours of 8am and 8pm that isn't in some way connected to building a career. I'm not condemning this attitude though, because it is productive and realistic. In the modern economy students at Penn often come out with great jobs and a relatively secure future, and that's very important. I also can't say I'm much above it, I put a ton of effort into finding internships and jobs. I just wish there was some way to balance this with the "Hollywood" depiction of college where students sit around and engage each other in intellectual conversation for the sake of mental expansion. I wish this was the type of where people don't just join a handful of clubs/groups to build their resume, and where people don't avoid interesting classes that might hurt their GPA. I've loved my 3.5 years here, but that element has been decidedly missing.
== The only reference in the article to the headline topic.
I got a philosophy degree because I felt it was the only thing I could get a degree in. I'd dropped out of college because I'd failed calculus - twice - and was basically told I'd never graduate without passing calculus, and it seemed hopeless. I got coaxed back much later, and lamented to a friend during lunch about the calculus/degree situation.
"Well," he said, "you could take a logic class, but that's really hard". Umm... Really? There are classes in that? I took it. People dropped out of the class, but I'd aced it. I'd already been programming about 10 years at that point, so the principles of logic were pretty ingrained, though I didn't know all the terms. But I passed, and was encouraged to enter the philosophy program, such as it was. So I did. I did it basically because it was the only time a professor had ever shown an interest in me or my talents. So I had a philosophy degree to show for it.
"What will you do with a philosophy degree?!" was the standard reply of most of my family. "I dunno" was my standard reply. Looking back, it's apparently a standard springboard in to law, but I wasn't aware of that path either. I hated school, and was happy to be done (after a mere 6 years!), but I realized there were no "philosopher wanted" ads in the paper, which was all I knew where to look.
Tying it back to the article a bit, the 'career department' was 100% useless - they didn't even try to help, and two of the people in there said they only had time to help "real" students. Basically, if you were doing engineering, they'd place you at GM/Ford/Chrysler at the time - I'm not sure what else they did there, really.
In the longer term the key things that have helped from the philosophy degree are to do with analytical and critical thinking, and the ability to write a well structured document.
One of the biggest pieces of BS is forcing calculus on people who have neither the need nor the desire to know calculus.
CS majors, for example, would be better served by a Discrete Math course instead of calculus: That's formal logic (first-order predicate logic, in specific) along with combinatorics and big-O notations (big-O, big-Theta, big-Omega, etc.), and some emphasis on writing proofs. If they later decide to learn calculus, they can either take freshman formula-grind calculus or Real Analysis, which is where you learn where stuff like the chain rule actually comes from by deriving calculus from first principles. Real Analysis is a lot more interesting.
Gradually getting back to my point, the focus on calculus is outdated and at odds with any STEM program that isn't exclusively or even primarily about creating civil engineers and physicists.
This is, of course, another reason why calculus shouldn't be the barrier course (you can't graduate without it!) that it is. Some people just don't do that, and they shouldn't be penalized for it if their field doesn't require calculus (or any analysis) in the first place.
This thread is interesting: http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=619519
I don't doubt that Real Analysis is more interesting. If only I knew from the start that upper level math was actually interesting rather than tedious. Graph theory is also loads of fun.
There was no implicit academic ranking or pressure. It was each person's individual choice to work extremely hard, to work the required amount, or to slack off, and all three choices were viewed as valid.
I also didn't feel so much pressure to study something with the sole end goal of making money. I understand why that's changed for millennials, although I think it's unfortunate. Maybe a solution would be for schools to support more double liberal-arts/STEM majors?
On the good side, the career services described in the article are leaps and bounds ahead of the career services I received at college. If those have improved, it's a big step in the right direction.
Learning how to think logically, approach complex problems, and structure coherent arguments, are important skills that you gain from studying philosophy. Perhaps this is why the mid-career median salary for a philosophy major is, according to PayScale Inc., more than that of several other science or business related majors (with only a bachelor's degree, 10 years after graduation) .
As an aside, philosophy and computer science aren't as unrelated as one might think; there are some interesting scholarly works that examine the philosophical foundations and implications of topics in computer science (android epistemology  is a good example).
[Unfortunately this comment is related more to the article title than the article content since the latter does not address this topic directly.]
There is some interesting category theory and set theory being done in philosophy departments.
Seriously though, there is an immense amount of overlap between formal logic and computer science. I learned most of what I know about Turing machines and computability theory from Philosophy classes.
FWIW, this on my résumé has served me well:
Undergraduate Philosophy at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.
This would say "BA," but I abandoned the American higher education system one credit (senior paper) away from graduating. Happy to talk to (or rant at) you about it.
I don't think these numbers work. And I see it in the fact that alumni affairs is beefing up its career services portion of its events. There is a recognition that if donations are to continue, then understanding that the careers they were sending kids off to based on prestige are slowly disappearing, and that the adults that had those careers are starting to transition into something else.
I'm also not 100% convinced that career offices at liberal arts schools are prepared for this. While I'm actually fairly happy with what I learned (because I can see it taught me to both think analytically about various subjects and communicate what I thought), I also can see that the traditional preparation has absolutely nothing to do with the well paying jobs out there. Further, when I finally figured out some ideas of what I was interested in late in college, my career office actually had no idea how these positions work or what they are like in real life.
I'm not sure they still do either, based on other times I've interacted with graduates. Many of them fell into what they did based on their connections (which all the schools mentioned provide, no doubt), including myself, at times. Based off resumes I've seen, particularly for technical marketing type roles (which I've seen more of, so I can comment about that), the internships don't seem to fully provide a good glimpse of what they know (and can vary hugely), or if they fully understand what goes on in these positions. Further, internships up until recently mattered very little - as the school could provide connections.
Weirdly, I don't blame the school at all. I'm more appalled that they admitted to me at graduation that I should take an unpaid internship (height of the recession) because they figured that most students could afford to effectively work their first jobs unpaid to get skills for jobs they don't know how to connect people to. This is not going to change until they get more alumni with a wider range skills, so, hence, above.
TL:DR Schools are doing this because up until now they could send their kids into jobs. Now well-paid careers are shifting, and they can't. This matches up with the rise of internships and stories like these. Meh.
Let's hope his changes mean more recent students got more help.
- took a programming specialist course (this is how they are calling it over here)
- found a job
The fancy thing is philosophy is not a technical profession, like medicine or engineering, and I dare say it does not have the aim of making its students to "get a job". You can write books and maybe be another Zizek but more often, you do not do that, or rather cannot do that because life wants you to find a job and get your own life ASAP.
Which sucks, sucks because if I am doing a job which is totally unrelated to the education I have taken, why did I lose all that time and money? To get a piece of paper?
I don't know why Americans seem so confused about the purpose of education, as if you're a failure if you don't leave school and proceed to do exactly what you were doing in school, except getting paid for it. The purpose of school is to is to turn people into intellectually nimble citizens of a democracy. Whatever you then go on to get paid to do, your education was only useless if it failed at that.
If you mean 'a degree that will guarantee me a job,' you are SOL there buddy. A dearth of engineers would mean rising unemployment for engineers. (We currently have a glut of unemployed lawyers, for god's sake, no reason that couldn't happen to computer scientists or mechanical engineers if a trend started).
Being able to communicate, reason, and argue better than 99.9% of my peers with traditional CS degrees is in fact a concrete advantage.
Edit: with certain things excepted, of course. I wouldn't want a doctor who didn't have the relevant degrees.
Nothing has any purpose except that which people use it for. If people want to use education for finding work, but in fact it turns them into nimble citizens but doesn't help with work, it's failing at the purpose people want to use it for.
Also, I think there's a real dearth of evidence that educated people are better citizens than slightly less educated people. I.e., that education causes delta civic-conscientiousness.
I could already write and think before university and I had all the mathematical tools that most people ever use in real life. University taught me how to write an academic essay of adequate quality, but I don't think this is an essential life skill.
That last sentence is also a little sloppy in its pronoun use: "he" is referring to the father, when it could conceivably (as written) be referring to the son.
The degree has helped me very little in getting a job. I mean, the most it did was strike up some conversation during my job interviews, but that's about it...and that's okay.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of philosophy to my day-time coding, as trite as this might sound, is that it helps me think clearly and in a structured way.
At Purdue CERIAS, the philosophy and linguistics departments are official granters of its Information Security masters degree, along with the technology school.
"Philosophy teaches abstract thinking--how to manipulate and reason about purely abstract concepts; how to logically construct and analyse models of world (and being-in-the-world)."
I probably kissed a little arse too.
Just right off the bat, what the fuck? My start to my college career was me and my mom lugging my stuff 300 miles to the dorms, unloading, her hugging me good bye, then not seeing her again for 2 months.