Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 2, 2011
BLOG: Study Something Useful

I was a history major in college, so I probably shouldn't talk, but the traditional liberal arts - while they are inferior to studying science and engineering, as preparation for a trade - are one thing; subjects that are neither an academic liberal art nor a lucrative trade are just a waste of college tuition.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:10 PM | Blog 2006-13 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Once upon a time liberal arts colleges taught young people critical thinking and the ability to express themselves clearly in speech and writing. There might still be a few like that today but most are merely taxpayer and student funded rip offs that make no effort to give the student marketable skills.

Posted by: dunce at November 2, 2011 9:38 PM

Oh come on - it's ridiculous to argue that sociology and psychology don't teach critical thinking skills or that communications programs - of all things! - don't teach the ability to write and speak clearly.

I bet that much of that graph can be attributed to: (1) more people going to college over that period of time, and (2) most of that growth being female students. Women are notoriously not drawn in large numbers to math and computer sciences. I'd love to see more of them, but my sense is that there will never be a huge number.

As for men, the author has not sufficiently made the point that the decline in those fields is noteworthy. He just says it's "declining," but that decline could be very mild or attributed to less men going to college. You can't tell from the article.

It's also wrong to say that psychology is not a trade or marketable skill. Often, you need an advanced degree to make that happen, but the same holds for history majors. I see no reason why psychology or sociology shouldn't be considered an "academic liberal art."

What does that leave? Dance and performing arts. Well, no argument here. If you want to do that, you don't need to attend a tradtional college, and you are definitely overpaying relative to income if you do.

On a humorous note, if you eliminate communications programs, what will all those college athletes take for a major??


Posted by: MVH at November 3, 2011 9:27 AM

Majored in Anthropology.

Posted by: jim at November 3, 2011 11:18 AM

Like I've always said, "You chose to major in English. You eat ramen."

Posted by: Mark D at November 3, 2011 12:38 PM

My son is a freshman at Graceland University, made famous by Bruce Jenner. In his first semester he has a Critical Thinking class. There are still some good programs out there, but in many cases (not all) you need to go private to get them.

Posted by: maddirishman at November 3, 2011 1:04 PM

What's lost is the understanding of history and what it meant. Dimwits like Bachmann who make it up as they go can't solve problems because they don't understand that while everyone makes mistakes, they should always be new ones.

Posted by: Daryl at November 3, 2011 6:58 PM

Daryl-very subtle cheap shot at a conservation there you slipped in! Hey, I would have said the Bamster but that is just me.

The price of college has gone way up and part of it is because the government is willing to loan stupid kids (and parents) tens of thousands of dollars that goes right in the pockets of the college administrations. Then the kids spend the next 10-15 years paying off the loans while doing the same job they could have gotten with a HS education. Great jig if you can pull it off and up to now the colleges have been doing it.

How about they march on the colleges?

Posted by: Lee at November 7, 2011 7:39 AM

Lee, it wasn't subtle, and it's the truth. You can claim you don't like Obama's policies, but not that he's uneducated about our nation's history. Bachmann was the prime diggee, but she and Palin, and frankly, so much of the Tea Party makes up American history the way they like it. The truth is so much more interesting.

Lee, I'm not sure if I agree with you about the college issue or not. Because yes, we have so many schools now, they need to feed themselves with so many students that we aren't producing the best of the lot, as we should. But we aren't cranking out the desperately needed plumbers, electricians and machinists that a manufacturing economy needs. If I were starting a factory here, I would probably take it overseas, not because labor is cheaper (yes it's a factor), but because of a lack of skilled trade workers.

I've had quite a few people in the last few years ask me for advice because their kids want to become architects. My best advice: become a plumber. They think I'm joking. I'm not. It can't be outsourced, it's a necessary trade for any country with running water, and it's an educated position. It takes six years to become a fully licensed, independent plumber. Six years. Also known as college and grad school, but you get paid to learn from someone who knows. And we denigrate it. Shame. Shame. Shame.

Posted by: Daryl at November 7, 2011 9:42 AM

I work in an area and industry where the number of people capable and qualified to work on the techincal (presses, pumps, etc.) and less technical (forklifts, conveyors, etc.) is shockingly limited especially for a relatively sizeable industry. The person (I'm pretty sure it's one guy for nearly everyone around here) who works on our presses comes from over 500 miles away to do so. There is very, very good money to be made by grinding away at learning machinery.

Posted by: jim at November 7, 2011 11:34 AM

Daryl,

On the Obama comment, aside from not knowing how many states in the Untion (50 not 57), the Bamster was educated but he too makes stuff up to suit himself. So is it his education or himself?

My issue is not just the quality or usefulness of many college degrees, but it is the collusion between the government and schools. The schools keep raising the cost of eduaction, the government offers to make loans with our tax dollars, and the students run up a big debt. The losers here are the students and the tax payers. The students have a heavy burden to pay off the loan and the taxpayer funds education that is not helping the country. The schools and the government are the winners.

Posted by: Lee at November 7, 2011 2:00 PM

Lee, I tend to ignore the simple slips of the tongue, be they from Obama or Dubya. Anyone can get tired and goof up. It's listening to Bachmann preach on and on about the whys this country was founded, pulling her religion into a discussion the Founders would have cracked up over. That's not a slip of the tongue, it's inventing a history of this nation that never happened. Palin has done the same.

And I think you are too busy looking for conspiracies and smart cabals behind the scene a bit too much. Most people just aren't that smart. Besides, Lee. Read the papers. The government is NOT willing to give the loans. Even during the height of the Depression, NYC had free tuition in its university system. CCNY was considered the Harvard of the public school system. During the Depression! Free high level college degrees. It wasn't an agenda then. It was simply important enough even for a broke country to fund. We didn't fund defense as much, but so what? The fact that the Pentagon now wants to feed the beast so we can make sure our tanks will hold off a Russian invasion through the Fulda Gap doesn't mean we have to.

Posted by: Daryl at November 7, 2011 2:07 PM

Yes, too many people are going to traditional colleges and universities who really shouldn't, and that is one of the underlying problems. And the demand has created way too many "colleges." The issue about majors is a complete red herring.

But the government isn't exactly imposing favorable student loan rates against the will of the people. Those kinds of student loan programs are extremely popular.

Luckily, like any other kind of market, traditional college prices are so high that prospective students, particularly those with marginal grades, are choosing cheaper colleges, online alternatives, etc. This dilutes the value of a college degree of course, but at least these students aren't racking up too much debt, and employers know how to distinguish the qualities of colleges.

Posted by: MVH at November 7, 2011 2:20 PM
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