Psych majors challenge Jeb Bush’s Chick-fil-A remark

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush earned a lot of attention for his “warm kiss” remark during last night’s debate. But he’s also getting attention for a comment made earlier in the week about the limits of a psychology degree.

The Washington Examiner reports at a South Carolina appearance Saturday, Bush said:

“Universities ought to have skin in the game. When a student shows up, they ought to say ‘Hey, that psych major deal, that philosophy major thing, that’s great, it’s important to have liberal arts … but realize, you’re going to be working [at] a Chick-fil-A.’ ”

As you might imagine, that comment has not sat well with psych majors who mounted a #ThisPsychMajor Twitter campaign to defend the value of their degree and their work. (No word yet from philosophy majors, one of whom is my oldest son. Perhaps, they’re still contemplating.)

We spend a lot of time discussing the best college majors despite evidence college grads often end up in fields outside their areas of study and do fine.

I’ve had mechanics who were journalism majors — I’m partial to them — and doctors who studied art history. I have many friends in computer-related jobs who studied urban planning or sociology.

Every college publishes a pep talk about choosing a major on its website. I like the advice to students on the Yale site:

Your major does not dictate your career direction, you do. Choose a major that interests you. Study a subject in which you excel, knowing that your major may or may not lead to a specific career outcome, but will give you a valuable set of transferrable skills that can be applied in a variety of career settings.

We encourage you to pursue a major that you’re passionate about, focusing on subjects that you will enjoy studying and have a genuine engagement with. Through your extracurricular activities, leadership roles, and internship experiences you can explore the applications of the skills and knowledge you’re gaining through your liberal arts curriculum, and try out the diverse range of careers where you can apply your skills and knowledge.

Several of you have asked what psych majors earn so I pulled this chart from PayScale.com:

Reader Comments 0

110 comments
Michele Connell
Michele Connell

This psych major is a clinical supervisor for a community mental agency and oversees the treatment of over 350 clients with sever and persistent mental illness and drug addiction.

popcornular
popcornular

Anything you need to know about Psychology, ask your Grandmother. 

RealLurker
RealLurker

I think Bush's statement wasn't very well thought out.  However, I do think that students should consider the long term consequences of their decisions.  If someone wants to to be a psych major, they should consider financial implications.  I would not pressure someone against any major, but they should be considering all of the facts before beginning a line of study and working towards goals.  Their goals do not have to be financial, it could be helping others, or engaging in activities that they are passionate about.  They should however have goals and understanding of what they are working toward.

bu2
bu2

@class80olddog

If that's a serious question, its what they used to call a secretary.


An executive assistant is a secretary that you darn well better listen to.

redweather
redweather

@MaureenDowney @class80olddog The duties and responsibilities of an administrative assistant are often dictated by the boss.  Some only perform secretarial functions while others, like the young woman you describe, are sometimes called Project Managers.  My wife worked in publishing with a company specializing in high-end coffee table books.  She worked with a stable of nationally recognized photographers, scheduling their photoshoots, accommodations, etc. all over the country. It was a high-stress job that required many skills, most notably communication and problem solving, and it paid well. 

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@class80olddog I think those jobs vary a lot in salary and scope. I know someone who is an administrative assistant to a company president. He does very well.  But I know young people who have that title and make very little.

A friend's daughter was an administrative assistant to a couple who made documentaries, and she traveled the world as a result. She arranged flights, hotels and cars, but also got to do a lot of stuff on the sets, including research, interview prep and location scouting.

class80olddog
class80olddog

Just below "visual and performing arts".

BTW, I was a physical science major.

Q1225
Q1225

@class80olddog So since prospective English majors score higher on the SAT than prospective engineering, computer science, and business majors, you'll concede that an English degree is more useful than the others, right? 

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Q1225 @class80olddog English majors score higher on critical reading and writing (imagine that!) but much less on math.  Psychology scores low on all three.  English majors are good for English-related careers. 

Q1225
Q1225

@class80olddog @Q1225 "English-related careers"? Like jobs that require critical reading and writing skills? Isn't that pretty much all of them? Haha!

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@class80olddog 

This doesn't mean much here since SAT scores are used to predict the test-taker's success during his/her first year of college.

class80olddog
class80olddog

I do find it interesting that student loans are the one loan you can get without any thought to how you will pay it back - or even have a job.  That is something that needs to be considered. 

Starik
Starik

I took one psychology class in college, thinking I would learn something about mental illnesses - instead I learned about the behavior of rats. Poor rats.  The rat would be in it's cage "exhibiting casual behavior" and these experimenters would give it a jolt of electricity, or heat up the metal floor, or something like that. They would then study the behavior of the rat, long-term rat worries and so on. This was actually useful to me in later years: "There I was, sitting at my desk, exhibiting casual behavior, when the phone rang..."

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@To all, Please see chart I added to the blog on what fields psych majors end up and how much they earn.

RationalThoughts67
RationalThoughts67

@MaureenDowney  The thing you leave out in your chart is how long does it take a Psch major to become a HR Manager.   Surely they don't get that job straight out of college.   How many years do they have to work to get promoted to HR Manager?


GaTech under-graduates make more than that on their first day on the job straight out of college.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

Since many here are following Jeb Bush's lead and stereotyping Psychology majors as easy courses full of psycho-babble, I thought I would check UGA's actual Psychology major for undergraduates. The required courses include an Introduction to Psychology, 2 Biology courses, 1 in Statistics or Math, 2 Physical Science courses.  There are two tracks for majors: Biological (Neuroscience), or Social (Testing, Developmental Psychology, Workplace Psychology, and Psychopathology). Plus electives.


This does NOT sound like a snap major. Its graduate receives a Bachelor of Science degree. How many of you critics could pass these courses, or even understand them?

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@bu2 @OriginalProf 

To answer you seriously here--- Yes, a lot of legislators are lawyers, but I think that's because the legislators are the ones making the laws in the first place. Georgia has had a lot of peculiar, unenforceable laws passed recently that were drafted by non-lawyers.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@OriginalProf

Sounds like the academic version of "I can pee farther (further?) than you".   LOL

bu2
bu2

@OriginalProf

I've only seen one poster say Psychology was easy.


The problem is people just getting degrees with no idea of how it will benefit them.  So they run up student loans and the state runs up costs and society has little if any benefit.  And the colleges encouraging that while they continue to drive up tuition costs higher and higher.  That's the issue.  College costs go up for everyone.  Students have a hard time getting into the better schools.  The government has to deal with unpaid student loans.  Graduates can't find a job and struggle in life.  All the while colleges keep getting lots of cash-and using lots of adjunct professors.


So Jeb wants to solve that problem instead of just being PC and pretending it doesn't exist.


bu2
bu2

@OriginalProf

The biggest problem isn't psych and philosophy majors.  Its that we have too many lawyers.  But most politicians are lawyers, so they don't mention that.  Lawyers are a big drag on society and employment.  We need a lot less.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@OriginalProf @bu2 right...because saying that the degree isn't worth the cost it takes to get it is somehow saying "it's easy courses full of phsycho babble"....


Wow, you must have some insight into the english language that us mere mortals just don't have. 

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

How much money does the "average" phsych major make?  And how much are their student loans?  


Once you get past the "I'm caring for xxx people, who would die w/out me" BS, it comes down to whether the degree is worth the cost.  And in general, it's not.  Sorry - just what the numbers say.


And no, I as a taxpayer should not have to subsidize your "follow my heart" decision to incur massive student loan debt while getting a degree that doesn't pay off economically.


Follow your heart all you want...but don't expect us to pay for it with our hard earned tax money.

straker
straker

"choose a major that interests you"


And, if no jobs are available in that field, be ready to get more schooling and go deeper into student loan debt.

Q1225
Q1225

Not everyone has the aptitude for a Latin American studies degree like ol' Jeb.  Wasn't Ben Carson a pyschology major?  Not sure if that weakens or strengthens Jeb's argument.

bu2
bu2

@Q1225

Well if he was a pysch major and planned to use that to get him into medical school, that's a plan for a career, not just a useless major.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@bu2 @Q1225 

Yes, considering that Neuroscience is a sub-field of Psychology, and Carson wound up being a brain surgeon.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Q1225 

If Ben Carson was a psychology major, that probably explains Bush's choice of majors!

DrProudBlackMan
DrProudBlackMan

@Astropig 


So your ASSumption is you have to be a STEM graduate to make money? As a business owner surely you're  aware of how to shelter your money.....?

Astropig
Astropig

@DrProudBlackMan @Astropig


Now see- I took the high road and all I get is insults. I could have said something like "I didn't know government programs paid out 70K" or, "It's awfully early in the day for you to be out of bed when EBT benefits don't pay out until Monday", but- NO. I tried to be nice and what do I get? Heartaches!


And this-


"As a business owner surely you're  aware of how to shelter your money.....?"


Nahhh. I work hard so you don't have to.

DrProudBlackMan
DrProudBlackMan

@Astropig 


Speaking of EBT, you good at dog whistling ain't you saltine, I saw two of YOU PEOPLE at the local Piggly Wiggly yesterday buying a butt load of junk food with an EBT card. Jethro looked to be about 110lbs soaking wet and when he smiled his mouth looked like a black hole. His sow had to be pushing close to 300lbs. The kind of 'Becky' that yall like to say WE chase after. Their litter of kids, four, looked nasty and couldn't keep their hands off of the candy rack. Mama caved in and added about another $10 in tax payer subsidized junk to her bill. Your cognitive dissonance has you bumping into walls doesn't it?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@DrProudBlackMan @Astropig You must have been up in our neck of the woods - yea, I saw them, too - it makes me really mad that people are like that.  Sorriness is not limited to a certain race. The bad news was the cashier let them charge the candy to her EBT card, even though she knew it was illegal.

popcornular
popcornular

@DrProudBlackMan

I make a little over $70K with my 'liberal arts' degree.

Because you are scamming the Georgia Teacher Pay-Scale. For what you are paid, Georgia could hire two teachers far better than you. Shame. 

anothercomment
anothercomment

That is funny, you are proud of a paper mill degree. You have just confirmed to all of us that you have your job due to EEO reasons. A white person would not pass out of the starters block with an Argosy degree. Let me guess you work for Dekalb county

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Let's see,

You want to hire an electrical engineer, you hire someone with an Electrical Engineering degree.

You want to hire a chemist, you hire someone with a Chemistry degree.

You want to hire an accountant, you hire someone with an Accounting degree.


I'm beginning to see a pattern here.....


Fact is, there are jobs that require a specific degree.  Other jobs require no specific degree, but companies often use a degree requirement to filter out the chaff.  There are degrees that have near zero market demand.  Some people work in jobs that have nothing to do with their degree.


I didn't sacrifice to send my kids to college so they could "find themselves".  I sent them so they could get a degree in a field that would provide financial stability.  You may me okay with your thirty-something year old offspring living at home and flipping burgers while trying to pay off $60k in student loans.  I had higher aspirations for my children.

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

Psych degrees are easy to get and not the ticket to a high paying job right out of college. 


However, let's see this STEM thing for what it is - an effort to create an oversupply of tech grads so the salaries can be depressed.  I've never understood why anyone would go into a field where computer and robots are doing more of the work - including designing and building computers and robots.  Liberal arts - thinking and caring about the world is what will differentiate us from the machines in future generations.


And before you ask, I'm a liberal arts major who's enjoyed what I would call a successful life.  Not rich and not poor - and I've never worked at Chick-Fil-A, though I do enjoy eating there!

Gov-waste
Gov-waste

I'll simplify a Psych Major degree. A pontificator, someone who sits around Starbucks and analyzes people and issues. They develop opinions from their vast experience of being taken care of by mommy, daddy and a liberal education system who says they are not getting treated fairly and deserve and are entitled to more for their 6 years of education. They are  in debt and want the gov't to write off their loans since they have higher  degrees and there are no jobs. 


End result, they work at Chick-fil-a. Now at least they can say "May I help You" and not charge you a 5 digit number.

Wetmore
Wetmore

chick-fil-a is for bigots.