Every year....thousands of teenagers arrive at US universities.....then enroll in an environmental studies program. Four years later....they will graduate. You can figure a minimum of ten thousand was borrowed for their educational costs. Then, reality sets in.
You have to find a job. In the big world of environmentalism.....there's just not a huge market. If you grew up in central Alabama and got a degree in environmental studies.....there's pretty good odds that you can admit there's never going to be any future for you if you wanted to stay around that part of the state.
You start to look at foundation jobs, research positions, governmental studies, university situations, and journalism jobs.
Reality will likely set in for a fair number of these young graduates after a year or two. Maybe enthusiasm carried them for four years.....but enthusiasm doesn't pay for a college loan, take care of apartment costs, or show prospects for the decades ahead.
So, eventually, you will get around to alternate jobs. I noted today....over at Worldwatch....some guy had sat down and analyzed the possible alternate jobs that a guy or gal with environmental studies could get into. Ten of them: taxi driver, teacher, mid-wife, farmer, artist, trash miner (yeah, someone has to do this kind of work), death-mid-wife (the person who would be taking care of you until the final day), urban forager (yeah, there's some money in collecting nuts, herbs, etc.....from the woods....you won't get rich....but it's enough to pay for a tank of gas), environmental preacher (I've seen these guys pretend to 'preach' but they do a lousy job usually), and political revolutionary (it's odd that they pushed this job into the field but someone has to do it).
I looked over the list of ten jobs. Frankly, nothing much from the college degree earned....would qualify you and you'd probably be very limited in skill-groups.
For example....just stepping out of the house and pretending to be a small scale farmer.....would take five years to really pick up knowledge and avoid big screw-ups. Anyone pretending that they can start out a bio-farm today and make some small income off it.....probably needs a mentor standing over them the first year, and expect eighteen hour days to be the norm for the first year or two.
Artist? Well....if you had that talent to start with....fine. I'm guessing that most folks aren't taking environmental studies as a major and art as a minor. Maybe I'm wrong about this....but this doesn't seem to be a great career path.
The midwife thing? Well.....you need some medical knowledge....and I doubt that you have that on day one. Maybe a extra year or two of more college? Well....yeah.
Political revolutionary? Where exactly is your paycheck going to come from? Some foundation paying you under the table? Your resume during these years of revolutionary work? Is this something that you can admit to or brag about? Don't revolutionary folks tend to get into trouble.....get arrested....and spend hours and hours talking to other revolutionary folks?
This is the problem with educational expansion and growth. Anybody can run off to college today....get a degree in just about anything (even sports journalism instead of plain old journalism, or specialized turf management for those who want a golf course career). A hundred years ago.....most colleges offered five or six degrees, and that was it.
I hate to suggest a naive notion among these young folks and their great enthusiasm. Maybe two or three hundred will discover by the end of the four year period.....their only way of productivity.....is to get a few more classes....get a teaching certificate....and haul out toward Idaho or Montana to be some fourth-grade teacher. All that vast knowledge and prospective? Wasted and flushed down the toilet. But at least some twelve-year old kid will learn the capital of Florida, figure the best way to divide a truckload of oranges, and understand the complex history of France with your help.
Are we allowing too many of these folks to think there's some career ahead? Well....yeah. It's kinda like French literature studies, or ethnic studies, or sports journalism.....there's just not an abundant open field of jobs coming up each year.
So, as you are sitting there at the Wal-Mart pharmacy waiting on your prescription to be called out, and there's some young gal sitting there and concentrated on thinking...sitting beside you. You might happen to engage in conversation and discover that she's an out-of-work environmentalist......with a degree....bills mounting....and a hopeless future. Offer up some cheer, hope, and suggest there's always a taxi driver requirement in the local town. It's the least that you can suggest and maybe it'll cheer up their day.