Will Jeremy Have a Job When He Graduates?

Jeremy Epstein opened Tuesday’s town hall style debate with the following question:

“Mr. President, Governor Romney, as a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors and others is that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment. What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?” [1]

President Obama used the question to offer the typical pie in the sky rhetoric that he ran on in 2008. He started out:

“Jeremy, first of all, your future is bright. And the fact that you’re making an investment in higher education is critical. Not just to you, but to the entire nation. Now, the most important thing we can do is to make sure that we are creating jobs in this country. But not just jobs, good paying jobs. Ones that can support a family.”

Then he babbled some more and concluded by pretending that he was a fiscal conservative and Karl Marx in the same breath:

“We’ve got to reduce our deficit, but we’ve got to do it in a balanced way. Asking the wealthy to pay a little bit more along with cuts so that we can invest in education like yours.”

Yes, you heard right, Obama is still trying to portray himself as interested in reducing the debt after four years of trillion dollar (and then some) deficits. You can read the transcript of the debate if you want any more of the psychobabble than that.

Neither candidate addressed the actual issue: whether or not Jeremy could get a job. Neither of them got enough information on Jeremy to actually answer the question. See, Jeremy’s question is a little more complicated. How can you tell whether or not Jeremy can get a job without knowing basic things? You know, like what he is studying or even how well he is doing in school?

For example, if he is studying to be a doctor and flunking out of medical school, the obvious answer is that he probably won’t be able to get a job as a doctor. Or perhaps he is studying underwater, lesbian drumbeating and will only be truly qualified to be a fry cook at McDonalds.

Well, as it turns out, Jeremy is studying “exercise-science” [2]. Basically, he is studying how to help people stay in shape. He wants to, essentially, be a Zoomba instructor. Exercise-science is one of those cutesy little degrees that graduates a ton of people every year from many of our universities for only a handful of jobs.

Can Jeremy get a job when he graduates? That may not be so much a matter of how the economy is doing but more a function of his choice of majors. A major, which I am sure he is paying a boat load of cash for. Meanwhile, the average starting salary for people with this degree can be as low as $18,000 [3]. People with these degrees enter into the fields of Fitness Trainer, General Managers of fitness centers, physical therapists, and athletic trainers. There ain’t, in case you are wondering, any shortage of people looking for work in those fields. I know at least five. With lots of experience, they have been looking for work for as much as four years.

Ok, so what can someone with such a degree hope to earn?

“According to the BLS, the median annual wage of fitness trainers and aerobics instructors was $30,670 in May 2009. The median annual wage of coaches and scouts was $28,380, also in May 2009. Personal trainers who are self-employed can have a higher earning potential depending on the number and type of clients trained; according to PayScale.com, as of September 2010, personal trainers with bachelor’s degrees in exercise science had salaries ranging from $23,226-$38,141.”[4]

Not exactly one of those in demand, high paying fields based on this sort of data if you ask me.

Hopefully Jeremy can buck the odds. Heaven forbid he becomes the next Julio proclaiming, “Oh, this is such a blessing to see you, Mr. President! Thank you for taking time out of your day! Oh precious God, thank you so much!” [5] and then complaining about how he is stuck in a dead end job at McDonalds.

Had I been on that stage, I would have probed to get the information necessary to actually answer Jeremy’s question. As soon as he would have declared his field of study as “exercise-science”, my advice would have been to drop out, cut his losses, and go to trade school. He’d be far better off if he did.

[1] http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/2012-presidential-debate-full-transcript-oct-16/story?id=17493848

[2] http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/10/how-jeremy-the-college-kid-got-on-the-stage-with-obama-and-romney/

[3] http://work.chron.com/average-salary-exercise-science-majors-7286.html

[4] http://degreedirectory.org/articles/Exercise_Science_Majors_Your_Salary_and_Career_Questions_Answered.html

[5] http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2009/02/10/4431960-obama-lauds-housing-health-care-items?lite

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