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What different college degrees are worth in two charts

By Ezra Klein,

Are you going to college? Are you paying for someone to go to college? Then you might want to study this graph closely:

This one, too:

That’s data from Northeastern University’s Andrew Sum, by way of Catherine Rampell at the New York Times. The major takeaway, I think, is fairly depressing: About a quarter of college graduates don’t have jobs, and an additional 22 percent don’t have jobs that use their degree. And the jobs that don’t require a degree pay about $11,000 less, on average, than the jobs that do require a degree.

Across majors, the implication is clear: If you’re going to college to get a job after college, you’re better off in a major that lends itself to an obvious job after college. Engineering, say, or teaching. A humanities or communications degree turns out to be a much tougher sell. That doesn’t account, of course, for the joy and pleasure of learning about the humanities or communication, but if my college experience was any indication, a lot of the kids in those majors weren’t particularly devoted to the disciplines and were just trying to get a generic college degree so they could get a good job afterward. And those kids, it seems, were getting a rawer deal than they realized.

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