September 4, 2016

College kids are saying their parents won't let them major in liberal arts.

According to WaPo business and economics writer Steven Pearlstein, who is also a Public Affairs professor at George Mason University.
For me, there’s nothing more depressing than meeting incoming freshmen at Mason who have declared themselves as accounting majors. They’re 18 years old, they haven’t had a chance to take a course in Shakespeare or evolutionary biology or the history of economic thought, and already they’ve decided to devote the rest of their lives to accountancy. It’s worth remembering that at American universities, the original rationale for majors was not to train students for careers. Rather, the idea was that after a period of broad intellectual exploration, a major was supposed to give students the experience of mastering one subject, in the process developing skills such as discipline, persistence, and how to research, analyze, communicate clearly and think logically.
4 thoughts:

1. Why are they 18 years old? Why not mature a little by doing something valuable or stupid for a few years? Start hemorrhaging money after you know yourself well enough to decide what you want to do in life.

2. In the old days, the days of the "original rationale," only an elite set went to college. It was a good bet that the degree would leverage your success, and in your secure elitism, you could indulge in the professor's dream that you were rounding yourself out.

3. It's not the student's mission to keep from depressing the professor. Have your own list of things you want for yourself because you know yourself. It would be weird if you put not depressing professors on it.

4. Of course, it's not all about pleasing your parents either, but at least your parents love you, probably. But feel free to continue to use your parents as you explain to professors why you don't think it's such a good idea to major in the field they are struggling to preserve as an ongoing operation.

125 comments:

chickelit said...

I had a hard-ass, no nonsense chemistry curriculum at UW-Madison. That major was chosen by me. But I managed to get ya-ya's out by minoring in foreign languages -- German and Italian. There were always interesting women in those classes.

JayneI said...

Very good point. As a parent of a college student, I feel that tension, between the liberal arts and a more pragmatic major.

So does my son.

Society is so weird these days, more so for young people growing up, and college is even weirder.

buwaya puti said...

In the old days nearly everyone who wasnt wealthy and had an interest in the liberal arts would educate themselves to some degree. My great-grandfather, an uneducated peasant from Leon, acquired one of the notable libraries of Spanish literature available in the country. It burned in 1945.
It was quite popular thing to do, hence Andrew Carnegies libraries.
And ditto on the small minority in formal liberal education. That sort of thing was for gentlemen, and even then it was only a very few that took it seriously.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Duh. And this has been going on for waaaay too long.

It's what happens when you have a shitty educational system, throw manufacturing, labor (including skilled labor) and trained apprenticeships out the window, and make the baccalaureate a necessary stepping stone for entering the workforce and a replacement for the education that they should have gotten before leaving high school.

We really are a dumb society.

Rhythm and Balls said...

In the old days, the days of the "original rationale," only an elite set when to college. It was a good bet that the degree would leverage your success, and in your secure elitism, you could indulge in the professor's dream that you were rounding yourself out.

It still is, assuming you go to the right one. The door to high paying executive and financial jobs has always been wide open even for English majors as long as the institution they attended was elite or Ivy League.

n.n said...

throw manufacturing, labor (including skilled labor) and trained apprenticeships out the window, and make the baccalaureate a necessary stepping stone

The ubiquity of elitism in higher education has a corrosive effect. Outsourcing, insourcing, and regulatory inertia has exacerbated the situation. Ironically, the popular conception of a "well rounded" education creates a critical personal, social, and economic imbalance.

the education that they should have gotten before leaving high school

Too many people underestimate the significance of productivity in their formative years to achievement in their future life and welfare. The system, more than the people, have profited greatly from this immaturity (and lack of parental guidance).

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

If you haven't read several Shakespeare plays by the time you leave high school, you probably don't belong in college. At my (typical) upstate NY high school, we had Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Hamlet. I think R&J was actually in 8th grade. I didn't get around to King Lear until college, but I'd plowed through all the histories before then, starting with Richard III and working backward. (The year I was in England, the RSC presented the three Henry VI plays and Richard III condensed into three plays. I felt that I was the only one in the audience irritated every time a scene was cut.) It's the comedies I still don't know well.

Evolutionary biology? Again, anyone who has passed high school biology should've had a good amount already. Even if they didn't buy every book Stephen Jay Gould ever wrote, as I did. (That also was at Cal, but again on my own time. People have different ideas about what constitutes "light reading.")

Economics I confess to having been weak on until fairly recently. But does Pearlstein really think his accounting majors won't be getting any economics? No "history of economic thought"? Currently I can quote Bastiat and Adam Smith and indeed Marx with at least decent relevance.

I went to Cal to major in mechanical engineering, and I did. Then changed my mind entirely and studied musicology as a grad student. So I presume I'm the "well-rounded" student the professor wants. Why do I nonetheless feel that he and I wouldn't really get along that well?

MisterBuddwing said...

Fortunately for me, my liberal arts education dovetailed nicely into my chosen field, so I never faced the dilemma of having to choose between something I enjoyed and something that would enhance my income-making ability.

It can be a real downer - studying something one hates just for the sake - the hope - of a future living.

(And what's with these ads I see embedded in-between the blog entries???)

learthetoetappe said...

"But feel free to continue to use your parents as you explain to professors why you don't think it's such a good idea to major in the field they are struggling to preserve as an ongoing operation."

You including law as one of those fields, Althouse? If not, you should, and you should perhaps reconsider being such a vampire (as those poor law students are hemorrhaging money in a way no liberal arts major is).

http://www.americanlawyer.com/id=1202757769463/As-Supply-of-Law-Grads-Drops-More-Struggle-to-Find-Work?slreturn=20160804144014

mockturtle said...

Your comments are spot-on, Ann! Very, very few eighteen-year-olds are mature enough for higher education.

And, yes, I also studied Shakespeare and Homer in high school! And still had time for geometry and trigonometry, physics and chemistry. WTF DO they teach in high school these days? Besides 'Diversity'.

cubanbob said...

Rhythm and Balls said...
Duh. And this has been going on for waaaay too long.

It's what happens when you have a shitty educational system, throw manufacturing, labor (including skilled labor) and trained apprenticeships out the window, and make the baccalaureate a necessary stepping stone for entering the workforce and a replacement for the education that they should have gotten before leaving high school.

We really are a dumb society.

9/4/16, 1:24 PM"

Notice that this has worsened considerably ever since the creation of the US Dept. Of Education along with Griggs v Duke Power ruling. Having paid one and continuing to pay another full freight college tuitions (with now two master programs in the pipeline) as much as one would love to have their kids have the ideal education before going to to career school the costs are such that is no longer an option for most people. An out of state tuition in most state schools is nearly the cost of a single family home in most of the country. A private university, even worse. My kids are well aware of how fortunate they are they aren't completing their education with a massive debt millstone around their necks. The scandal is that K-12 education has become so bad that college is now becoming the remedial school for jobs that actually don't require a college education.

coupe said...

My dad advised me to join the Army after high school. It was a no-brainer that the GI Bill and the US Treasury were your friends. Plus, you were 4-years older and got the need for all that strange pussy out of your system.

It was actually kind of nice in college, because I had no care in the world, and spending money without a need for a job. I met a woman who became my wife, and I enjoyed every course. I loved liberal arts. I loved language. I didn't love engineering, but as my dad said, they don't allow nurses to run hospitals, so you got to get a meat degree, or your just blowing your wad.

cubanbob said...

Rhythm and Balls said...
In the old days, the days of the "original rationale," only an elite set when to college. It was a good bet that the degree would leverage your success, and in your secure elitism, you could indulge in the professor's dream that you were rounding yourself out.

It still is, assuming you go to the right one. The door to high paying executive and financial jobs has always been wide open even for English majors as long as the institution they attended was elite or Ivy League.

9/4/16, 1:28 PM"

So true. I have and am spending a small fortune putting my kids through such schools. Sad but that is how the game is played today.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

mockturtle, I left out Homer. Also Beowulf. And The Two Gentlemen of Verona, which was in there somewhere. And geometry and trigonometry (and calculus) and physics and chemistry. And modern European history, though that was seriously spotty (we spent a few days just watching that dire movie of Ivanhoe, which was a less realistic picture of King John even than Shakespeare's), and American history. In fact, pretty much all the liberal arts. Also music -- we had one of the two actual string orchestras in the county.

I bulked up on nearly everything. But then I was a seriously weird kid. I still am, apart from the "kid" bit (I'm 48). Again, this was a pretty typical school for its time, which was a bit more than 30 years ago, in a not-terribly-affluent part of the state.

Rhythm and Balls said...

An out of state tuition in most state schools is nearly the cost of a single family home in most of the country. A private university, even worse. My kids are well aware of how fortunate they are they aren't completing their education with a massive debt millstone around their necks.

This is exactly why the Bernie Sanders campaign (and to the extent that the Trump campaign mimics it) were bang on the money. Unless we expend more political attention to manufacturing, the trades and labor, we will have foreclosed those options, misled our youth into thinking that only with a college degree will they amount to anything, artificially increased the demand of higher education, made a glut out of the raw material supply for attending it (i.e. student applicants) and led the way to a massive jacking up of tuition rates on the part of the colleges as an obvious market response to that inflated demand.

To their credit, many elite institutions have followed the noble lead of places like Harvard and made their tuition rates nearly completely sliding scales depending upon demonstrated family financial needs. Still expensive and competitive, no doubt. But with a more evened-out hit spread across their poorest and richest students.

The rest don't have to bother with pretensions to any such "social missions."

rcocean said...

"Rather, the idea was that after a period of broad intellectual exploration,"

There's absolutely no evidence that the average American university is interested in "broad intellectual exploration". The liberal arts are a disaster area, full of cultural Marxists primarily interested in political indoctrination.

The Professor, therefore, has it completely wrong. The ONLY reason to go to college - assuming you're not a leftist - is because of your career.

Rhythm and Balls said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Earnest Prole said...

Two thoughts:

1. Today’s students are not adults

2. Today’s liberal arts are not yesterday’s liberal arts

rehajm said...

If you haven't read several Shakespeare plays by the time you leave high school, you probably don't belong in college. At my (typical) upstate NY high school, we had Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Hamlet.

An opportunity for me to say something nice about NY as this was my experience at an upstate NY high school. Hopefully we didn't attend the same one...

...and and a Finance and Accounting undergraduate with a 40% liberal arts requirement- I would have been happy skipping the liberal arts requirement.

rehajm said...

Liberal Arts profs are pricks.

Hagar said...

For something to do between high school and college, may I suggest serving a hitch in the military. This will broaden your horizons and concentrate your mind as to what you want out of a college education so that you never have to go near the military again. And the Government will then pay for at least your tuition if not your living costs while going to school, so that you may emerge without a crushing debt over your future.

And Professor Pearlstein will have to learn how to deal with a classroom full of hardened ex-GI's, which will be very good for him too.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

cubanbob,

Ah, Griggs. Is it fair to mention that I read a lot of ConLaw too? The gist of Griggs was that aptitude testing was out in employment, so employers substituted credentializing, whence this long, onrushing fervor for higher education, not abating even now, when the price of a college degree is so high that even people who can finish one in six years (!) are going to be in hock for decades afterwards.

David said...

I certainly should have done something else before college. Enlisting in the military probably would have been best and I would have been out before Vietnam heated up. But my father had left college after one year and never went back (WW II was a major reason) and he strongly influenced me to go to college. I would have gotten a lot more out of it had I waited a while.

But I don't regret the liberal arts. A strong grounding in history has been important throughout my life and the analytic skills taught were excellent. But is history a basis for teaching students to be questioning and analytic now? I'm not sure the current ideological biases of the history faculty permit that.


TWW said...

"Son/Daughter, I support your right to choose the major of your liking. If it is of my liking, I will pay for it. If not, you will."

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

rehajm,

Mine was Monroe-Woodbury HS. There's a lot of "upstate NY," which means everything but NYC and LI. Monroe isn't very "upstate," about an hour's drive from Manhattan.

loudogblog said...

I got my degree in theater Arts. My parents were totally supportive of me as long as I paid for it all myself; which I did. That being said, CSUF was a lot more affordable in the 1980s than it is today. I'm one of the few people in my graduating class that actually has a job that's theater related and, ironically, my current job does not require a college degree.

Anglelyne said...

There are few things more depressing than listening to the beneficiaries of a metastasizing bureaucratic racket -- which requires young adults to submit themselves to imbecilic propaganda along the way to being turned into hopeless debt slaves -- natter on about "broad intellectual exploration".

Amazon.com and public libraries make a serious liberal education, and then some, available and affordable to any interested young person with the necessary habits of self-discipline. Sorry Professor Pearlstein, but few students can afford that "idea of a university" buried in the pernicious credentialism racket you serve.

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
coupe said...

rcocean said...The liberal arts are a disaster area, full of cultural Marxists primarily interested in political indoctrination...

I believe one can't be educated if they refuse to understand "Progressives" at their level.

You can't understand the undercurrents if you refuse to get your feet wet, and move away from shore.

People like General Westmoreland, would have done well to study the Japanese, and French defeats in Indochina, before he started rounding up men for futile cause.

It wasn't Marxism that won, it was Imperialism that lost.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

They teach the liberal arts so extremely badly now that I don't want my kids studying them in college, even for free. I'd rather they learn the content of what used to be called Western Civ on their own, as autodidacts, than learn through the lens of neglecting to mention white men and Christendom other than to demean them.

I agree that college is wasted on 18 year olds.

And I tell my kids that they have to pay the bills, and to study STEM. They can read and educate themselves in the classics on their own time, when they are 25 year old engineers making decent money and not having to devote evenings and weekends to spouses and children yet.

Helps that none of my kids are the party type. They won't be Tindering and barhopping on the weekends.

FleetUSA said...

Unfortunately, Profs are often just interested in filling THEIR classes so they use whatever logic they can muster to convince the student to "buy their car". It gets pretty blatant. Just like a salesman degrading the competition.

I've seen this in action so often, kids need to be appraised of the problem.

mockturtle said...

I've been trying to convince my two grandsons to enter the military before college. They tell me the military is not currently accepting recruits. True, or bullshit?

Oso Negro said...

Ha ha ha! I have degrees in English Literature and Chemical Engineering. I can decline verbs in Old English and derive the Gibbs-Duhem equation starting from first principles.

James Pawlak said...

It does not take a university education to learn the phrase, "Do you want fries with that?".

ALP said...

"It’s worth remembering that at American universities, the original rationale for majors was not to train students for careers."

Oh for fuck's sake, do people like this ever listen to themselves? Is he really suggesting young adults make career decisions as if we were living in the 1600's (Harvard founded 1636 - the "original" university)? Is he really suggesting today's college students see themselves as the Colonial Elite of the colonial era? Maybe these parents know that a practical major will help foster their **financial independence** and get them the fuck out of their childhood bedroom. By dismissing the idea of university as a way to help one towards a decent salary, doesn't it sort of shit on the idea of financial independence?

The author can put his money where his mouth is and insist that George Mason University charge the "original" tuition charged by "original" US university, Harvard, in 1636. Or he can volunteer to house some of his debt ridden former students in his basement.

Rhythm and Balls said...

I've been trying to convince my two grandsons to enter the military before college. They tell me the military is not currently accepting recruits. True, or bullshit?

I don't know, but you can rest assured that if Hillary wins then there will be plenty of neocons convincing Lady Warmonger of which nice spot in an Arabian desert she can find to send them to! That will definitely jack up the demand for cannon fodder, so don't lose hope!

rhhardin said...

You can't get a Shakespeare course that doesn't have a PC interpreter at the helm. Why pay for that?

Rhythm and Balls said...

President HIllary Clinton, Commander in Chief.

If uttering that phrase doesn't send a chill down the spine of every warmongering leatherneck, I'm not sure what will. But it just might possibly do the trick. I predict many newfound pacifists - even from the most traditionally belligerent subcultures in America - before 2020 is out.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

The college bubble is about to burst. Since 1978, the cost of attending college in America has increased 1,120 percent. Why go tens and tens of thousands into debt to work in a $32,000 a year service sector job with your history degree?

Mountain Maven said...

If they actually taught history or literature, us parents might reconsider. But only crap has been presented in these classes going back to my Marxist professors 45 years ago. My STEM major son and I spent hours looking for classes with content to meet the "diversity" requirement at his college.
Plus there's no jobs for those majors. Not in my lifetime.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Why go tens and tens of thousands into debt to work in a $32,000 a year service sector job with your history degree?

Because Goldman Sachs will pick up the slack and definitely step up to the plate when it comes to keeping our country and culture from backsliding further.

rcocean said...

I believe one can't be educated if they refuse to understand "Progressives" at their level. You can't understand the undercurrents if you refuse to get your feet wet, and move away from shore.


You don't need to take liberal arts classes to "understand progressives" - given that the entire American culture including TV, Hollywood, and almost every MSM newspaper and magazine shares their POV. Not to mention HS teachers.

Everyone is already swimming in a sea of "Progressive" thought. No need to go College to learn how to "understand it".

Dust Bunny Queen said...

My thoughts.

Our elementary and high school education systems are failing our students. It is abysmal and shocking how poorly educated and in fact ignorant the students are when the graduate. College students who don't know who fought in WWII. No grounding in history, classics, math or any of the sciences. Many are barely able to write a coherent sentence. I completely blame the decline on the unionization of teachers.

As noted College has become remedial education for everything not learned in school. A very expensive remedial education. It is criminal what has been done to the education system and morally repulsive in how our children have been intellectually crippled.

Kids would be better off taking some time between high school and college. Get a job, an apprenticeship (if you can find one), travel if you can afford it. Instead of jumping into a 4 year University, take some courses at a Junior College. Do the remedial work there.

The time spent doing something else will not only make them grow up (for God's sake), it will also allow them to find out what is interesting to them and what motivates them.

CWJ said...

Starting with Althouse, just about every comment in this post and thread has much to recommend it. I'm reduced to echoing Earnest Prole's 2:12PM pithy comment.

I had four separate successful careers over the course of my post BA life and each one required reinvention on my part. I credit my Beloit College liberal arts education with preparing me with the intellectual rigor AND flexibility necessary to pull that off. Frankly, my UofChicago Masters and ABD after Beloit only served to guarantee that my resumes got me an interview.

I fear today's college liberal arts are at best no better than what I received in HS. The quoted Professor's comments about Shakespeare and Biology only reinforce that impression.

mockturtle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Big Mike said...

Why are they 18 years old?

Because they aren't 17, which is how old I was when I entered my freshman year of college. I think that was the norm back in the 1960s. How old were you, Professor?

Why not mature a little by doing something valuable or stupid for a few years?

Because it's very tough to listen to some credentialed, but otherwise ignorant and imbecilic university professor pontificate about something you learned about out in the real world and you know for a fact that they're wrong. This describes every professor in every discipline that ends in the word "studies," and more than a few in the social (so-called) "sciences."

It's not the student's mission to keep from depressing the professor.

And that from a university professor. There's hope for you yet.

mockturtle said...

The lyrics to "The Very Model of a Modern Major-General" from Gilbert & Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance are a brilliant satire on the 'well-rounded education' concept applied to military leadership. Classical education is enriching but not terribly practical.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Our elementary and high school education systems are failing our students. It is abysmal and shocking how poorly educated and in fact ignorant the students are when the graduate. College students who don't know who fought in WWII. No grounding in history, classics, math or any of the sciences. Many are barely able to write a coherent sentence. I completely blame the decline on the unionization of teachers.

And the parents? What about them?

Have you heard some of these parents? They object to any discipline whatsoever and in many instances are more obnoxious than the kids.

Much as Americans love to privatize and individualize, there's no separating universal education from its social mission.

Big Mike said...

Rather, the idea was that after a period of broad intellectual exploration, a major was supposed to give students the experience of mastering one subject, in the process developing skills such as discipline, persistence, and how to research, analyze, communicate clearly and think logically.

Of course that used to be the rationale for the liberal arts. But these most parents believe -- and they're more right than wrong! -- that courses in the liberal arts and social sciences consist mostly of students learning how to properly parrot back what the professor tells them. This is an "art" that most college-bound kids learn in high school, so there's minimal additional "education" that happens if one merely keeps repeating the exercise in college.

yoobee said...

I went to college about 10-15 years ago and I had to pay for all of it (my parents could not afford to pay it). Many of my colleagues were in the same boat. For better or worse, it forced me to make my own decisions about what I studied and how I chose my major. It seems that parents are increasingly paying for their kids college. If kids don't want to have their parents weigh in, they should have the courage to take on the responsibilities (and the rewards) for themselves.

mockturtle said...

R&B said: And the parents? What about them?

Have you heard some of these parents? They object to any discipline whatsoever and in many instances are more obnoxious than the kids.


Have to agree with you on that. Big problem.

Bill Peschel said...

Mockturtle wrote: "I've been trying to convince my two grandsons to enter the military before college. They tell me the military is not currently accepting recruits. True, or bullshit?"

Bullshit. My daughter went through a military physical in January for the Army, but had to bow out due to medical issues. Two weeks ago, while my h.s. senior son was out for the day, two recruiters dropped by the house.

Fortunately, my son wants to be an engineer. He's incredibly bright so he actually has a shot at great engineering schools (UPenn, U. of Rochester, RIT, Drexel, Pitt). I can't take any credit, apart from genetics. He's bright, naturally inquisitive, and a hard worker.

A few years back, he built a generator from scratch, scrounging up copper wire and assembling it using Legos. It worked the first time, but he saw a better way each time, so he tore it down and rebuilt it until it functioned smoothly.

Since we're poor, we're looking at merit-based and need-based aid. That's when we learned that if he can get into an Ivy League school, they'll pick up the tab. Our cost would top out at $2,000 a year according to the net price calculator. Meanwhile, at a state-supported school like Penn State, it would be on the order of $25K a year. That's insane.

Clyde said...

Given the skyrocketing costs of college and the concomitant rise in student debt incurred, today's students would be foolish not to look for something practical to learn that will enable them to pay off those debts. Back in the day when students could work their way through college and graduate with little or no debt, it would be fine to lark around learning whatever struck one's fancy. Those days are long gone.

Bill Peschel said...

I forgot to add: At no school that we've looked at (at least a dozen) did they make you choose a degree the first year. Most have you wait until your junior year. If you want to be an engineer, you should choose by your sophomore year.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

R&B said: And the parents? What about them?

Have you heard some of these parents? They object to any discipline whatsoever and in many instances are more obnoxious than the kids.


I have to agree as well. The blame can be spread around. I was fortunate in having parents who were supportive at home, well read themselves, encouraging of learning, exposed us to new experiences: books, museums, travel, mental exercises in games. We were encouraged to follow our interests, expected to be responsible and diligent in our work.

Sadly many kids don't have this type of support and they aren't getting it from the schools which have turned into factories to grind out ill educated wage slaves and low information voters.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Or they could flush $100 down the toilet each day, 10 months a year, for four years, and get the same results.

Big Mike said...

@Bill Peschel, it sounds to me -- retired after 45 years of designing and building IT systems -- that you have something special in your son. The only Ivy where he can get a good education as an engineer is Cornell. The rest suck. (On paper Brown looks okay, but the university is so over the top PC that your son would be uncomfortable there.)

cubanbob said...

Bill Peschel said...
Mockturtle wrote: "I've been trying to convince my two grandsons to enter the military before college. They tell me the military is not currently accepting recruits. True, or bullshit?"

Bullshit. My daughter went through a military physical in January for the Army, but had to bow out due to medical issues. Two weeks ago, while my h.s. senior son was out for the day, two recruiters dropped by the house.

Fortunately, my son wants to be an engineer. He's incredibly bright so he actually has a shot at great engineering schools (UPenn, U. of Rochester, RIT, Drexel, Pitt). I can't take any credit, apart from genetics. He's bright, naturally inquisitive, and a hard worker.

A few years back, he built a generator from scratch, scrounging up copper wire and assembling it using Legos. It worked the first time, but he saw a better way each time, so he tore it down and rebuilt it until it functioned smoothly.

Since we're poor, we're looking at merit-based and need-based aid. That's when we learned that if he can get into an Ivy League school, they'll pick up the tab. Our cost would top out at $2,000 a year according to the net price calculator. Meanwhile, at a state-supported school like Penn State, it would be on the order of $25K a year. That's insane.

9/4/16, 3:03 PM"

Take the money (I presume from UPenn) and run. An Ivy has a value all of it's own. UPenn has a six billion dollar endowment so it can afford to give a few super bright but poor kids a break. It's costing me nearly $70k a year for one of my kids to be there.

R & B Sanders' scheme for free college is a sham. Also human nature being what it is most people don't put much value in what they get for free. What this country needs is real education reform from K-12 with along with a European scheme of A Levels and vocational schooling coupled with penalties for failure such as being disqualified for welfare benefits for several years as encouragement to get their lives in order. Not everyone is suited (either by temperament or by IQ) for a university education and most jobs don't require one.

Dave in Tucson said...

Some thoughts of my own:

1. College degrees have become a sine qua non for most, if not all white collar jobs. I personally feel like I would've done better as an undergrad if there had been more emphasis on career prep, and less on "learning for its own sake".

2. Given the skyrocketing cost of tuition, it shouldn't be a big surprise that students are showing a profound lack of paying that kind of money to study something that won't bring a payoff when they hit the job market.

3. Even if colleges were to offer liberal arts classes tuition free, I suspect most students would give them a pass anyway (as much as they were allowed to) in order to focus on classes more directly tied to a payoff in their career.

mockturtle said...

Cuban Bob opined: What this country needs is real education reform from K-12 with along with a European scheme of A Levels

Totally agree!

Dude1394 said...

Get rid of about half of the administrators and folks wouldn't come to college being forced to make sure they got a good paying position out of it to pay off the student debt.

Dude1394 said...

I guess the professor is afraid that he will not be able to make another wave of little SJW types. Accountant majors have to do things like...math.

Rhythm and Balls said...

R & B Sanders' scheme for free college is a sham.

Doesn't matter. Without Sanders there would have been no political momentum toward a viable manufacturing and trade policy. Sanders wouldn't have gotten free tuition through, but he would have bolstered the manufacturing and trades sectors, which solves the problem by decreasing demand for college, allowing tuition rates to fall naturally in response.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

That's not a bad lesson to learn early, though: he who pays the piper calls the tune.

As an aside, I work as an accountant and would guess I regularly read and enjoy more Shakespeare than your avg. liberal arts major...is Shakespeare even required reading these days?

Paul Snively said...

I'm fine with a liberal arts program. Just reintroduce the Trivium.

bagoh20 said...

It has been a long time since I was in college, but isn't the university curriculum a lot like cable TV where you pay for a lot of weak content that you don't want or need just to get what you do?

What if higher education was bought by the unit off an open menu. You can buy any course, but there is no coddling or refunds. You have to make sure you have prepared yourself for the course work with prior self-education or preparatory courses In-course testing and grading is only to guide you on how you are digesting the content. All degrees are earned through testing, which can be attempted at any point, but you must pay a healthy fee for the opportunity. Lazy people waste their money, without dragging down the motivated. This it seems to me would be more efficient for the student while allowing the University to feed more customers through by allowing all to move at their optimum pace.

Tim Wright said...

The article in the Post notes parental pressure to major in serious subjects. Maybe those parents have noted just how crazed the humanities departments at our universities have become and are making a rational decision to not subject their children to such nonsense. Good for them...it's the only thing that might bring universities back to earth. Which is to say, facing unemployment. And I say this as a long ago history major, one who reads the classics. Liberal arts in the academy is no longer about the liberal arts and students are advised to avoid it. Tim

gadfly said...

Ann asks, "why eighteen ... why not mature a little?" I am not well read on the subject, but it seems to me that there exists a social stigma for parents and for their young adult children that demands attaining a college degree immediately after high school - and the government loan programs ain't helping. Further there is the flagging economy that has few jobs to offer to graduating seniors.

So now take the forgoing double whammy, add today's exorbitant college tuition fees and parents will demand a decent return on investment. It is not unreasonable to attach conditions to freebies given to offspring, so the need to get a degree in a field which will in the end provide for a comfortable safety net and at least a comparable and customary lifestyle to today - or else . . .

As for Professors, they don't get a vote.

Big Mike said...

@cubanbob, I respectfully disagree. UPenn's engineering college is ranked #27* in the country, Cornell's is #9.

_________________
* US News rankings of programs that offer both undergraduate study and doctorates. Keep in mind that there are some small schools like Harvey Mudd and Rose-Hulman that are not in this particular set of rankings because they do not offer postgraduate study.

rehajm said...

There's a lot of "upstate NY," which means everything but NYC and LI. Monroe isn't very "upstate," about an hour's drive from Manhattan.

North of Albany you aren't considered upstate.

Big Mike said...

Oops. I meant to add that Harvey Mudd and Rose-Hulman are very highly regarded, probably above even Cornell. The US Military Academy and US Naval Academy are also among the best -- and cheapest! -- engineering colleges in the United States.

Jupiter said...

The most creative people working in America today are almost all accountants.

jimbino said...

Commenters here and elsewhere are generally clueless about what studies are encompassed in the Liberal Arts. Y'all need to at least check out Wikipedia in order to learn to distinguish:

1. STEM
2. Liberal Arts
3. Fine Arts
4. Humanities
5. Professions
6. Trades

and to distinguish: Science, Art and Nature.

You may be surprised to learn that in most colleges in Amerika, you can get a B.A. degree in Economics without taking any college math courses, and in pre-Med and pre-Law without any but the basic science and math courses required for the MCAT and the LSAT, as attested to by the fact that our POTUS, COTUS and SCOTUS have almost always been populated mainly by Humanities majors with JDs, who have never had serious STEM and barely any college Liberal Arts courses-- from Abraham Lincoln through and including:
Roberts: History
Stevens: English Literature
O’Connor: B.A. Economics
Scalia: History
Kennedy: B.A. Economics
Souter: Philosophy
Thomas: English
Ginsburg: Government
Breyer: B.A. Economics (the only one distinguished in math and science)
Alito: Public and International Affairs
Sotomayor: History
Kagan: History
Garland: Social Studies
Trump: B.A. Economics
Hillary Clinton: B.A. Political Science
Barack Obama: Political Science with concentration in International Relations

So why the hell should you knock yourself out to study STEM or the Liberal Arts? Both of Barack Obama's parents, better educated in both, were more qualified for high office than any of the above.

mockturtle said...

and in pre-Med and pre-Law without any but the basic science and math courses I KNOW that is bullshit! About Pre-Med, at least.

Paul said...

Parents don't want their kids to get a liberal arts ed cause THEY DON'T WANT THEM IN STUCK LIVING IN THE HOUSE TILL THEY ARE 35!!!

So many liberal arts majors find NO jobs after graduation and end up at home feeding off their parents.

So yea, the parents don't want to stupid degree that don't mean shit 99 percent of the time.

jimbino said...

Mockturtle

"and in pre-Med and pre-Law without any but the basic science and math courses I KNOW that is bullshit! About Pre-Med, at least."

Why don't you start out by referencing a college curriculum that cites serious math and science courses as pre-requisites? We can then go on from there.

mockturtle said...

Jimbino: Define 'serious'.

Karen of Texas said...

My daughter went to England to pursue her Master's. STEM degree in Biology opened no doors. Many related job areas wanted a Master's - she discovered this when applying for a Lab Tech position. She also discovered that for a bit less cost wise than the 2 years needed to acquire her Master's here, she could get to England, live and eat in England, AND get her Master's in Biotechnology at Oxford Brookes in England. They have a one year Master's program because they offer only relevant classes and are practical Lab heavy unlike the asinine way it is done in this country.

Gunbunny62 said...

Though its not Shakesphere , it is immensely satisfying to be able to machine something within a 1/1000th of an inch.

MaxedOutMama said...

I'm glad to see that so many of the MeadeHouse readership has correctly flagged the nonsense. There is nothing that prevents high school students from reading Shakespeare, and in my high school, those on the academic track were all required to read at least two Shakespeare plays. Also The Odyssey, Beowulf. Everyone was exposed to Chaucer. We also (in history) had exposure to economic philosophies, etc.

My high school also had business and craft tracks (the now-maligned "vocational education"). We had Home Ec and Shop as required courses for two years beginning in eighth grade, and then by the last two years of high school students were already specializing, based on their aptitudes and interests. Not that you were prevented from pursuing several tracks. Some did.

Trying to convince parents that college should be high school is not going to be successful, because it shouldn't be successful. And, in fairness, the internet and Gutenberg.org has changed a great deal - if one loves Shakespeare, you can read it all for free and discuss it on the internet with like-minded individuals from varying backgrounds and cultures. The resulting experience is far richer than an introductory college course.

If college professors want to advance their cause, they'll put more effort into dropping the economic barriers and opening their education avenues to those who are truly interested in THAT SUBJECT. Stuffing the package deal of a four-year liberal arts degree program down students' throats is beginning to be a difficult proposition because there is not much value there.

There is too much propaganda and not enough education going on in secondary education.

Michael said...

R&B is quite right about the availability of jobs for liberal arts majors, especially for those who attend private universities. Employers in most businesses want independent thinkers and men and women who can converse across a broad range of topics and with a broad range of intellects. They do not expect new hires to know their business.

College is not trade school. If you are so concerned about whether your kid will be able to feed herself you have done a shitty job of raising her. Or send her to a trade school where she will learn something important, something we need as a society to keep rolling along.

Captain Ned said...

How about not pressuring incoming freshmen to declare a major?? Colgate U '85 here, and I did not have to declare a major until the end of my sophomore year.

Laslo Spatula said...

Socially Awkward Guy Who Makes No Eye Contact says:

My younger sister has just started attending college. Now -- of course -- she thinks she is so smart. And Mom loves that she is going to college. Of course she does: Mom loves anything my sister chooses. When I wanted to go to college Mom told me that Bed-Wetting wasn't a Major. Thanks Mom.

So now my sister has all of these college girl friends, and they all think that they are So Special. Sometimes they come by the house, and sometimes they stay overnight, laughing and playing bad chick music.

My bedroom is by the back bathroom, so when they are in there I can hear them pee and poop if I stay very quiet. I don't always do that, it's not like a compulsion or anything. It's just that sometimes I have to bite my lip to keep from laughing at the absurdity of them with their panties at their ankles, toilet paper wadded in their hand, making those tiny grunting noises and thinking they are better than everyone else. Your poop is still poop, college girl.

The hardest is when I can hear the shower running. I know one of them is in there, naked, just beyond the wall: I am SO close. The frustration practically burns. I could just walk in, if I wanted to: I could. I could also install a hidden camera; I've thought about that, too.

At night I imagine them all asleep, and I can't help but think how wonderfully glorious it would be to pee on all of them, to pee on their tight college bodies and their blissful college dreams: in my dreams I can practically pee forever.

I hope the Girl with the Blue Hair is working at McDonalds today.

Like no one else thinks these things.


I am Laslo.

rehajm said...

Colgate U '85 here, and I did not have to declare a major until the end of my sophomore year.

Youre only off the hook if you helped invent Trivial Pursuit (tm).

Crazy Jane said...

I took took a career-focused major in college but enrolled in at least one literature or history course every term. The major got me my first job, but the humanities courses live with me still. When I graduated, i had the sense that I had built a framework of understanding about how we got here; I have been filling in details ever since.

One thing not mentioned is that parents can force a certain amount of literary and historical acculturation on their children. A four-year-old will learn to recite Longfellow's "Midnight of Paul Revere" after several months of hearing it at bedtime. Most areas of any size have classical music ensembles and Shakespeare companies, and cable channels offer classic movies. There are art and science museums in every town, and in every place you visit, even better if you visit other countries. Serious books around the house don't hurt, either. Parents are pretty influential with children.

One caveat: Never drag a 12-year-old to a performance of Richard III.

Tom said...

I was a history major / honors program student. I went to grad school for a marketable skill. It slowed the start of my career to some degree. But after I mastered my occupational skill (about 5 years of work), it was the thinking skills I learned as a history major that propelled my careers. Never discount the liberal arts degree - but do realize it's a longer road and will require come creativity to translate that path into financial success.

Bruce Hayden said...

Probably repeating what a lot above have said. My kid got lucky (Summa cum Laude, honors in Physics and Math) that got them in a good full ride STEM graduate program. And, the masters they already have now would get them a good paying job, if they finish ABD. But a lot of their classmates graduated with low demand undergraduate liberal arts degrees, and huge debt. Most kids in college today can't afford taking on the student loan debt while getting a degree that won't get them into a career that will pay it off. And that means most liberal arts and social science degrees. While many of the humanities and social science grads are still living with their parents, my kid knows a bunch of STEM, and esp engineering grads, who are already buying their own homes in their mid twenties. Day and night.

One problem is that not everyone is cut out for either accounting or engineering. Enrollment in engineering programs is exploding,mat least at the lower level classes. But the number graduating hasn't risen nearly as fast, and that is mostly, I think, because math is not that easy for a lot of people, and doing well in math at an average or, worse, poor high school doesn't usually mean that much. I suspect that if you don't start college with at least some Calculus under your belt, you won't do well in engineering (or physics or math). And accounting? Still numerical, but not the same way. Do you really want to go through life adding up columns of numbers? (I am saying this as someone who had enough hours, between undergraduate and grad school, to sit for the CPA exam, and didn't). Still, undergraduate accounting classes are more valuable to many employers than humanities and social science classes.

Finally, there is a sharp dropoff with the value of college degrees, esp with humanities and social science degrees. Sure, a degree from an Ivy League school, or a top tier liberal arts college (Williams, Amherst, Middleberry, etc - but probably not much beyond the top ten), gets you into good jobs or good graduate schools, even in humanities or social sciences. But plenty of schools costing $50-$60k now won't. Many more than will. Which means that the competition for the schools that will do that has gotten impossibly fierce. It is easy to say "get an Ivy League degree", but extremely hard to get in the front door these days. They turn away more kids every year with > 4.0 GPAs (thanks to AP classes) and > 1500 SATs than they accept. Unless you can offer them something special (athletics, money, fame, disadvantaged minority, geography, etc). And a school's needs vary year to year.

Wayworn Wanderer said...

Big Mike wrote:

"The US Military Academy and US Naval Academy are also among the best -- and cheapest! -- engineering colleges in the United States."

I graduated from the military academy in 1975. My BS included 12 hours of foreign language, 15 hours of English, and 15 hours of history. It was an experience that fundamentally changed the course of my life.

Freeman Hunt said...

A lot of literature is wasted on people without the life experience to appreciate it.

Unknown said...

Why do parents have a say? Not only because they love their kids and are wiser but because they are probably paying for most of it.
Liberal arts? That is fine if you are super talented or go to an Ivy League school, but from an average college...not such a smart move. I dated a girl once who got a degree in French literature--she was a secretary and not happy about it. What is this downplaying getting a useful degree?

wildswan said...

Finding in Hell, a deeper Hell.
At one famous liberal arts college, the incoming freshmen interested in literature are studying Tarzan and then a comic book - the course is required for those interested in literature. If it's bad not getting a job afterward because you studied Shakespeare, imagine not getting a job afterward because you studied Tarzan.

gspencer said...

"Elizabethan Sonnet Writing? Yes, that seems a very nice major."

"When you're paying for it. But when I'm doing the paying, at 60K a year, lets look a few more options."

Hagar said...

Shakespeare, like Ibsen, was a theater manager, and in it for the money. If done properly, with lots of blood and thunder, any Shakespeare play will be just wonderful for a 12 year old boy.

And "engineering" by itself is a meaningless term. There are four major branches of engineering - Civil, Mining, Mechanical, and Electrical - and five if you count chemical engineering, and so many sub-branches split off from those that I do not know if anyone is keeping count any longer.

Nor do you need to be a math wizard for most, though you do need to do a lot of arithmetic and usually at least basic high school math, but nothing esoteric. The important thing is to keep track of your plusses and minuses and where the decimal place goes. (And that is no joke - you would be amazed at some of the elementary mistakes made by peopole who should know better. Doctors are not the only ones who get to bury their mistakes!) And some common sense is helpful.

wildswan said...

But however there might be a simple solution. Instead of teaching Western Civilization, Literature or Philosophy or Art, you teach History of Literature, History of Philosophy, History of Art. Since you are teaching "History of" you have to cover the whole range in Literature, for example, you have to go from Beowulf through Chaucer to Shakespeare etc. And then when you get to 1970 and beyond when at last there are all these great women writers like Lena Dunham the contrast will show which is trash, talking.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Just grousing here, but why STEM, apart from the acronym? Pure math doesn't fit into the other disciplines. A woman with a graduate degree in number theory probably isn't going directly into industry. (She might, if the "industry" is coding.) For that matter, what exactly are "technology" degrees, and where does one get them? And what do we mean by "science"? Does social science count? Political science? Only engineering seems clear.

Hagar said...

F. ex., designing high-power electric transmission lines and electronic devices are both specialties within Electrical Engineering, but obviously are poles apart for the talents necessary. Also Professional Registration is obviously required for power transmission engineers, while it is difficult to see why electronics engineers need to be registered.
And so on.
Just don't believe all the crap the media prints about "engineering." If you are at least average intelligence as commonly understood and want to work in one of these fields, there is a place for you somewhere doing something.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Hagar, at least at Cal ChemE is not only its own specialty but its own department. It was the most demanding major at Cal when I was there. I loved the sample schedule they provided. In the senior year there was a single slot marked "free elective."

I admit to loving 8 a.m. OChem lectures with five-hour labs weekly. But it's not to all tastes. My own 8 a.m. lectures were Heat Transfer. Bleh.

jimbino said...

Mock Turtle wants me to Define 'serious' with regards to science and math. The non-serious courses are General Science, Algebra 101, Chem 101, Physics 101 and the like. They are generally taken by non-STEM majors (pre-laws, pre-meds, etc) who need some math and science to qualify for med school and law school and who fear getting a disqualifying "B" in a serious class. We who teach them call them "baby math" and "baby science," because they don't require calculus. Beware of those among them who end up doctors and lawyers. Don't let them touch your body or legal case.

jelink said...

I admit to loving 8 a.m. OChem lectures with five-hour labs weekly. But it's not to all tastes. My own 8 a.m. lectures were Heat Transfer. Bleh.

**********

Heat Transfer? Not too bad. OChem? Fun.

But PChem? Ugh.

A fraternity brother caught me consulting Steam Tables, and wondered if it had something to do with keeping cafeteria food hot.

(but in the late spring, when the fancy new cars started appearing in our fraternity parking lot, it was the STEM majors who had the last laugh.)

jelink said...

Hagar: "Nor do you need to be a math wizard for most, though you do need to do a lot of arithmetic and usually at least basic high school math, but nothing esoteric."

>>>>>>>>>

Good luck.

JUST TRY solving physics, engineering physics or thermodynmics problems beyond the elementary level without a clear understanding and working use of integral calculus and differential equations, plus trig and analytic geometry. Try using basic high school math on vectors, divergence and curl!

Even if you can program a computer to do the actual calculations you'll need to understand the principles to create the program.

mockturtle said...

OK, jimbino. I took [at the University of Washington, late 1960's, Pre-med] inorganic and organic chemistry, calculus, statistics, cellular biology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology in addition to humanities requirements. I don't have access right now to my exact course information but I do remember those. Whether the current course requirements are similar, I couldn't say.

victoria said...

1. MY daughter started college when she was 17 and it didn't seem to stunt her growth as an individual. She has been, since she graduated from law school at 24, a productive member of society, not a drain on her parents or anyone else.
2. I firmly believe in a liberal arts education. The foundation classes, like history, geography, art and other "liberal arts" classes provide a foundation for living and appreciating the richness of life.
3. She was interested in pleasing her parents but not to the point that she would have sacrificed her ultimate goals to make us happy.
4. She has wanted to be a lawyer (why i do not know) since she was 4, and directed herself that way from the time she was in 6th grade. She graduated from college in 4 years, law school in 3 years and passed the bar.

We never had any angst about whether or not she should go into her chosen field. It was her decision, she worked hard and deserved any amount of support, emotionally or financially, that we could give her.


Maybe she is an outlier, but i doubt it. She is 30 years old now.


Vicki from Pasadena

victoria said...

The caps on My or MY was a typo.

Vicki

Bob Loblaw said...

How about not pressuring incoming freshmen to declare a major?? Colgate U '85 here, and I did not have to declare a major until the end of my sophomore year.

I don't know what it's like today, but when I went to school many of the majors were "impacted", meaning there were too many students who wanted to declare that major. If you didn't get in to the major before you showed up to college there was a good chance you wouldn't be allowed into the program.

If you were interested in arts or humanities you could take the survey classes and choose a major at the end of your sophomore year. But if you wanted to do math or engineering or physics at the end of your sophomore year you might end up in... arts or humanities.

Cameron Hoare said...

My advice is to look at where all the jobs are and do that. The Liberal Arts courses in most colleges are now just cultural Marxist indoctrination courses so why waste your time.

Liberal arts and such courses are easy to do as a hobby later if you are interested.

zyz65 said...

Cause and effect 101
In the past a liberal arts education was the mark of the mid-to-upper middle class, because no-one else could afford to devote the time and money to something which did not put bread ob the table.

Fast forward, now people think that if someone gets a liberal arts education it will turn them into a mid-to-upper middle class person.

Bruce Hayden said...

@Mchelle - to some extent, I agree about math. We now have four generations of math majors in my family (at least my kid get a double major with physics). My undergrad major was math, and, I will admit that a good part of that was because it was the easiest major for me. No comps, thesis, or GREs for graduation, and after Linear Algebra (which I took 2nd semester freshman year) it was downhill all the way. And you didn't have to deal with the busy work you had to with other undergrad science and engineering classes. Homework was only to show that you understood the concepts, and not part of the initiation. From my point of view, upper level classes were a lot of "let's pretend". For example, one of my classes revolved around non-Euclidian geometries, where parallel lines may meet, and the sum of the angles of a triangle may be greater, or less than 180 degrees, depending on how your space is curved. It was fun to discover years later that the universe actually acts this way at a very macro level when enough gravity is involved. A math major allowed me to play a lot of bridge in college, and introduced me to my first love - computer programming (at the time, it was taught in the math dept.) the problem with math though is, as you suggest, that it doesn't prepare you for a career, except maybe to teach math (which I had no interest in doing, and my mother lasted one year doing). But it does prepare you for grad school in a number of areas, esp engineering.

As a side note to my last point, my second career (after one as a software engineer) was as a patent attorney. Most STEM degrees allowed you to sit for the patent bar, but not a math major. I got to sit for the patent bar after they started allowing CS majors, and I was able to add up my other science classes and show that some of my undergrad math classes were really CS classes. One of the keys to patent work is writing and prosecuting patent claims, which are the legal metes and bounds of a patent's legal protection. They are a big reason why when you write a patent pro se (without a registered patent atty or agent writing the claims), you both get your money's worth, and have a fool for a client. And, I discovered that engineers, for the most part, wrote horribly narrow claims. Math and physics majors were the only ones who seemed to be able to really do a good job at abstracting the inventions, resulting in much broader claims, providing much more extensive patent protection. All those abstract math classes that seemed so much like "let's pretend" at the time, ended up having value for me. (The thing that I got from my first career as a software engineer was to be able to write claims functionally, instead of just structurally, as so many electrical engineers seemed to be stuck doing).

Daniel Richwine said...

I'm an accountant. I also have read Homer and Shakespeare before I left grade school. Accounting is a lot harder. I read all that stuff for fun, no way could I learn accounting for fun, it's too hard.

Eric said...

As long as they're not majoring in Public Affairs (or any of the many equally worthless "fields of study" offered by the university) they'll be okay.

Paul Snively said...

Michelle Dulak Thomson: Just grousing here, but why STEM, apart from the acronym? Pure math doesn't fit into the other disciplines.

I'll give this a shot anyway, noting that it's a rhetorical question:

What Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics are supposed to have in common is what's called the Hypothetico-deductive model, although we're already on shaky ground, because no science is done by deduction. But that's another rant. The point is about theory formation, testing of the theory, and falsification. To summarize, these are fields in which there is true or false, correct or incorrect, and these truths are amenable to discovery, elucidation, and communication such that they command universal assent by any educated person.

Of course, this isn't 100% true, as anyone even remotely acquainted with, e.g. modern physics or advanced mathematics knows. And those are just the examples from the "hard sciences," nevermind fields where there's essentially a deliberate attempt to steal the cloak of hard science, such as evolutionary biology or climate science, where there's generally an agenda other than adhering scrupulously to the scientific method as much as possible. But the goal of STEM education, and more importantly the philosophy behind the goal, seems apparent enough, and is sometimes summed up by the cry to teach computational thinking, although even the proponents of that generally don't seem to know what it means.

By contrast, as others have pointed out, you have fields like "________ Studies," which sometimes try to steal the cloak of hard science, but generally don't bother. A very few of them genuinely are attempting to offer examples of critical thinking about weighty social matters and are therefore open to lively debate about opposing points of view. But most of them are straightforward indoctrination that parents are increasingly conscious of, and apparently decreasingly willing to pay for.

Hagar said...

@jelink,
JUST TRY solving physics, engineering physics or thermodynmics problems beyond the elementary level without a clear understanding and working use of integral calculus and differential equations, plus trig and analytic geometry. Try using basic high school math on vectors, divergence and curl!

The courses in your first sentence are basic high school math - even in the old days of my youth, and the courses in your second sentence perhaps should be by now.

(I took a course in vector analysis in college, but have never had occasion to use, or even remember, any of it in 50 years of practice as a Civil Engineer. In fact, since I am not a Structural Engineer, I cannot remember ever having occasion to use use calculus either, though of course it is helpful to know how some things were calculated by others, etc., even if you don't actually us it yourself.

PackerBronco said...

Shakespeare?

That professor is clueless. Shakespeare is a dead white male who has no relevance to modern society. The college student who wishes to be truly rounded in zis education reads only the best of modern lesbian pornography.

PackerBronco said...

Blogger Jupiter said...
The most creative people working in America today are almost all accountants.


I would amend that to read:

"The most creative people working in Government today are all accountants."

Hagar said...

@MDT,
The word "engineer" is not protected, so you have engineers tending engines on ships and trains, "hair-styling engineers," "software engineers," etc.
"Professional Engineer" is a protected title, and you get yourself in trouble with the law if you try to pass yourself off as one without being properly registered.
"Professional" has to do with your work being of a nature that it could cause severe damage to the community if not properly executed, and proper execution requires special knowledge and training.
"Engineer" has to do with taking the knowledge of the natural world acquired by "scientists" and putting it to some practical use.
And a Professional Engineer is personally responsible for his work.

tim in vermont said...

I remember when I was in college in the '70s, the Computer Science majors where sneered at for not being in a "creative" profession. And yet those same computer majors created a new age. Not a lot of artists have created new ages in the progress of mankind.

David Sollars said...

I have been worked in business higher education since 1990.

Most US four-year business degree programs are laid out almost the same way. Say the program is 120 credit hours. The "business" requirements will make up roughly 50-60 percent, depending on how one counts higher level math, economics and statistics. Even some of these courses might be more liberal arts focused, such as organization behavior.

The remaining 50 to 60 hours are general education courses and basic requirements (math, English), and whatever else the college deems important. These courses will be concentrated in the freshman and sophomore years. Within general education you will mostly find some kind of "distribution requirement" across social sciences, arts and humanities, and science/math. So even the accounting majors get to take lots of other things, and can take even more if they don't burn up electives by switching majors.

Btw, history of economic thought is a business elective at my institution.

Joe said...

Year tuition at George Mason University: $11,300. For those with liberal arts degrees, that's $45,200 for a degree. Though I actually have a BA in Cinema, which I paid for myself, I've worked my career as a computer programmer, but I couldn't afford that AND hope to retire.

(I did pay for the first semester and half the second for three of my four kids at the local, and quite excellent, state university [tuition: $4500 a year]. The fourth got a scholarship, so I bought her a laptop and took her to Hawaii.)

Joe said...

"The remaining 50 to 60 hours are general education courses and basic requirements (math, English), and whatever else the college deems important."

Most of which are repeats from high school. Save for writing, at which most college students and beyond are helpless, most these courses are a giant waste of time.

Rhythm and Balls said...

And what do we mean by "science"? Does social science count? Political science?

Physics, chemistry, biology, and half of psychology.

Also, geology and astronomy.

richard mcenroe said...

What are these little snotnoses doing in high school? We read Shakespeare, we were taught Darwin and evolutionary biology, played and sang classical music, learned basic economics and were damn sure introduced to Marx by the madatory token Lefty English teacher. And that was a PUBLIC high school.

Diamondhead said...

I'm an accountant. When I left high school I had no idea what accounting was. I went to college as an English major and got some advice from my dad, who got a BA and MA in English, to study something practical (since they could not afford to pay and I was going into debt for it). I went into finance, figured out I liked accounting, and decided on that. Sometimes I wonder what if, but I paid off my school loans in four years, have a good career, don't worry about money much, and I continue learning in my spare time. What you learn in college barely scratches the surface, and at this point it's not a choice between accountancy and Shakespeare as much as a choice between accountancy (or something like it) and leftist intersectional theory.

Kirk Parker said...

cubanbob,

Thank you, thank you for mentioning Griggs v Duke Power. The college degree as a proxy for the (now mostly-prohibited or at best dangerous to try) employer screening is a YUUGE contributing factor here, and doesn't get nearly enough mention.

P.S. And thanks to you, too MDT, for your concurrence.



Ah, Misplaced:

You've lost track of more than just your pants. People at the age of 25 should be devoting weekends and evenings to spouses and children! The delay of family formation until its practically too late is one of the big contributors to the Suicide of the West; people of sense shouldn't just acquiesce in this.


Bill P.,

At no school that we've looked at ... did they make you choose a degree the first year"

You're literally right, in terms of officially declaring a major or being accepted into program/department, but that's not the point: there are plenty of majors where you will be behind if you don't start on the pre-reqs right from the first semester of your freshman year.

Vicki,

"The caps on My or MY was a typo"

No problem, that was easy to figure out. The one we're actually scratching our heads over is you putting "law school" and "productive member of society" in the same sentence...

Peter said...

With the availability of online learning, education has become cheap even as academic credentials have become ever more expensive. If you want a liberal arts education yet realize a liberal arts degree has little market value, why pay for the credential?

Further, much of what were the liberal arts in academia have degenerated into pretentious theory and tendentious politics, and this has made them deeply unattractive to many. Why take (and pay dearly for) instruction from those who apparently lack the ability to write clear expository text?

Martin said...

It would be highly unintelligent to throw away $250K on 4 years of Marxist, po-mo, and deconstructionist garbage. Between the cost and the destruction from within of the curriculum, there is no reason for an intelligent person to waste their money and time on this stuff. Pick it up later in a good online course, if interested.

James Griffin said...

I would encourage my daughter to study the humanities at a handful of liberal arts colleges which have not sold out to political correctness, but the corruption of higher learning by politics has made it almost impossible to take seriously the current teaching of the liberal arts. Fascists calling themselves progressives, social justice warriors, and leftists have made the education I obtained thirty years ago almost impossible to find.

I recently saw on YouTube an episode of Firing Line in which Wm. F. Buckley interviewed Muhammad Ali during the late 1960s. Such respectful dialogue would not be tolerated today by either the producers or the audience. "Four legs good. Two legs better!"