By using the plight of asbestos cancer victims as an analogy, we can more fully understand the plight of college students who graduate with unmarketable majors. I do not intend any disrespect to those who actually have asbestos cancer. To the contrary, I believe anyone who reads the following will agree that asbestos cancer is an apt metaphor for unmarketable college majors.
College Students Work Hard, Whether They Have Unmarketable Majors or Not
Despite what Hollywood films would have you believe, most college students work hard. Even students who choose an unmarketable major (i.e., one for which post-college financial prospects are dim) have to put in a lot of hours at the library to earn their degrees. That is why their post-college plight is so tragic. Just like factory workers who slave away day after day, unaware that they are at risk of asbestos cancer, college students with unmarketable majors work day after day, unaware of the risks they face.
Why Are College Students (And Workers Who Risk Asbestos Cancer) Unaware of the Danger?
I think on day one of college students should be given information about the potential financial outcome for their chosen college majors. In my experience, though, this simply does not happen. I have seen many students in a variety of majors (not just in English and the humanities – even in the hard sciences) learn only upon graduation that their degree will not pay for itself. Like the foreman at an asbestos-infested factory site, college professors and administrators often fail to inform students that their courses of education might not be lucrative. While college students with unmarketable majors do not typically get asbestos cancer, they are harmed in other ways.
College Students With Unmarketable Majors Have A Serious Liability (Analogous to Asbestos Cancer)
A college student who graduates with an unmarketable major can have one of several potential liabilities: (1) an inability to find employment of any kind, (2) an inability to find employment that meets his/her needs, and (3) an inability to find employment that creates enough free income to pay off the debt incurred in obtaining the unmarketable degree. While these liabilities might not be life-threatening in the way that asbestos cancer is, they can last a lifetime and inflict serious suffering.
Just like a factory worker in an asbestos-laden workplace, college students who selec unmarketable majors naively go about their business, working hard to earn their degrees and unaware of the risks. Then, upon the completion of their work, they realize that the very work that was supposed to create value for them in fact created a serious liability. Comparing college students with unmarketable degrees to factory workers who get asbestos cancer is, therefore, an apt and useful analogy.