Your parents probably told you this, and your teachers surely warned you as well, but now CIBC is weighing in with hard numbers: A B.A. in Elizabethan poetry isn’t going to get you as far as a degree in computer engineering; not in Canada, not in the U.S., not in Sweden. Nowhere, in fact, will a penchant for The Faerie Queene earn you as much as an understanding of digital switching systems.
However, that’s been lost on an increasing number of Canadian students who, according to the CIBC report, are “continuing to pursue fields where upon graduation, they aren’t getting a relative edge in terms of income prospects.”
That’s banking speak for ‘making dumb choices’. You can blame it on their youth, but not only are our best and brightest refusing to make the right call, or at least the most profitable one, they’re standing steadfast in their intransigence. (Sounds like an 18-year-old, doesn’t it?) “With the exception of commerce,” states the report, “in the last 10 years we haven’t seen a meaningful influx of students into degrees with more advantageous earnings outcomes.”
Part of the problem, of course, is the dynamic resistance of a diode. Another stumbling block is that power is reactive since voltage and current are always in quadrature.
Don’t know what I’m talking about? Rather read “To Kill a Mockingbird”? Yeah, well, join the crowd; because if you’re not into deciphering how much power is in an inductive load, you’re not going to last long in engineering. (Says the guy who didn’t even get grade 12 math).
And there’s the rub, because as intellectually engaged as Canadian students may be, they’re continuing to show a marked preference for the humanities and social sciences, rather than health, business and engineering, according to the report.
The big difference now, however, is that they’re starting to suffer the consequences. The unemployment rate among Arts graduates is now only 1.7 percent lower than people with a high-school degree, according to CIBC. That’s not a particularly big gap given the four-years of torment surely endured at the hands of Derrida and Nietzsche, among others. (The humiliation is even greater for MA and Ph.D grads, whose employment rate is only half a percentage point higher than high school grads.)
That said, if a history or say, sociology major does manage to get a job, they stand to earn 30 per cent more than high-school pals who skipped higher education. And having a grad degree adds on another 15 per cent premium.
“For students shelling out thousands in higher-learning costs, a university degree can be viewed as an investment with upfront expenses, and a stream of future benefits,” says Benjamin Tal, CIBC’s deputy chief economist, and a co-author of the report.
So in short, if you insist on pursuing an arts degree, good luck getting a job. But if you think you can beat the odds – and if you’re 18, you probably do – know that you’ll probably do just fine.
Same as it ever was.