The problem is not that a science undergraduate degree is not a career-oriented degree. It shouldn’t be. History, English, Philosophy, and some of the social sciences aren’t career paths either. But for those fields people seem to know that, and yet people associate science with something that leads to a job. They picture a scientist in a lab somewhere, and don’t realize that the people at the bench are either lab techs with a degree from a technical college or university students or -graduates at some point in their training. It’s all training, it never ends. A select few will eventually have their own lab, and if their grandmother lives to experience this they can tell her that they now are a scientist. Finally, at the age of 35-40 they have what the family would consider a job. And then they spend the next few decades struggling to get grants and write papers just to be able to keep that job.
The problem is that science programs pretend to be career-oriented. They train you for the job of research scientist, but there are way more students than ever needed to fill these jobs. I’d guess that about 10% of PhD students end up with their own lab. Everyone else has to find an alternative career. But if 90% of the graduates of a science program need to find an alternative career, is it still alternative, or is that just what people do with their degrees?
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