College Guide

Blog

January 04, 2010 1:35 PM The Guaranteed Job

By Daniel Luzer

With the economy in freefall the connection between a college degree and a job is looking a little less clear. So now some colleges are looking to make their schools more “relevant.” Welcome to Thomas College, “Home of the Guaranteed Job!” According to an article in the New York Times:

The shift in attitudes is reflected in a shifting curriculum. Nationally, business has been the most popular major for the last 15 years. Campuses also report a boom in public health fields, and many institutions are building up environmental science and just about anything prefixed with “bio.” Reflecting the new economic and global realities, they are adding or expanding majors in Chinese and Arabic. The University of Michigan has seen a 38 percent increase in students enrolling in Asian language courses since 2002, while French has dropped by 5 percent.

Obviously budget cuts at many schools require a lot of tough choices but some schools seem to be making upsetting cuts. The University of Louisiana eliminated its philosophy major. Michigan State University got rid of classics.

The trouble with these decisions is that it’s unclear if all this focus on practicality actually helps students. A recent survey of businesses conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities indicated that employers wanted people who were innovative, creative, and analytical. Some 89 percent of businesses surveyed said they wished colleges emphasized “the ability to effectively communicate orally and in writing.”

It makes sense in this economy for parents to ask colleges about job placement rates, but no one’s ever demonstrated that eliminating classics actually helps students get jobs.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer