Skip to comments.A College Education-What to Major In?
Posted on 11/22/2010 7:34:57 AM PST by WebFocus
There is a lot of debate these days on the cost and value of a college education. Maybe along with this debate, we ought to be rethinking how colleges are training students to compete in the global economy.
Two blogs I have read recently have highlighted college education. Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit.com has highlighted several articles about college costs. From reading his links, one could conclude that the cost of college has risen substantially because of two economic factors. First, because of the increased wealth of the world, and the increased realization that economic returns to a college educated person are better off, demand has increased. Increased demand without an increased supply of accredited colleges has increased costs. The second thing driving increased costs is the amount of federal and state subsidies in education that come in many different forms. These subsidies come from outright grants, student loans, research grants and other transfers. Subsidies drive up the price of education.
When perusing Chicagoboyz I noticed this. SUNY of Albany has decided to cut educational programs. They highlight the argument between two other bloggers, pro and con, on the traditional humanities versus no humanities debate. This debate goes right to the theme of Allan Blooms old book The Closing of the American Mind, and the core curriculum. The economic crisis has forced colleges to confront their economic excesses.
The increased cost of education is changing the way students view the world upon graduation. The values that our educational system teaches today leave our students unprepared for the competitive environment they will face upon graduation. Because of government subsidies and demand, the cost to get to the end cripples them with debt. This debt causes them to alter their decision patterns. They look for jobs with security, rather than jobs that can increase their standard of living substantially by assuming some well calculated risk.
Some people say that we are just entering the competition of the global economy, but they are wrong. Its always been there. Nations with large populations of people are emerging and people are noticing it more. Some education reformers like to say that kids in US schools arent competing with the person at the next desk, but instead are competing with a kid in India or China. They miss the broader point. We have always competed since the dawn of our country. Its just that the nature of competition changes over time.
How do we educate American society to win in the future?
Historically, and we are talking ancient 1800-1960′s history here, if a person went to college it meant that they learned a certain core curriculum of humanities, math and science. This core was a classic education. Learning it made one more educated than the masses that simply learned basic high school subjects. Also, this sort of education prepared one for professional graduate school; law, business, medicine or engineering. After graduate school, you went out and made the big bucks as a productive member of a capitalist society. Of course, that notion is dead. It began to change in the 1960′s, accelerated in the 70′s and 80′s. Bloom advocated for a collegiate education that was heavy on instruction in the formation of classical Western Civilization.
The way to educate Americans is to enable them to be hyper entrepreneurial. Because our standard of living is so much higher than the developing world, we cant redefine our standard of living down. Instead, we need to educate people to think out of the box. Find holes in the global economy that they can exploit and build a business out of. When the holes close, they need to find another one. There are always holes to find as the global economy always changes.
Some of these holes will turn into massive companies employing thousands. Some will be nice lifestyle businesses that will earn the person a nice standard of living. (italics added) Every person attending college today should engage in a core curriculum and then specialize into their major, even engineering and science, and especially business.
If we are going to recreate a great entrepreneurial society, we must enable our kids to take business risks. A well taught humanities curriculum can instruct them on how to find ways to take those risks. Taking those risks and being successful will continue to build our society.
Today, the American educational system is creating too many one dimensional thinkers. They are not taught to critically think, but instead are conditioned to think in a certain way. The values of the American system are screwed up as well. Kids are forced to do community service. Instead, they should be taught how to brainstorm to ideas for a business. Time spent in Junior Achievement clubs would be a lot better than trucking kids off to work at a soup kitchen.
Goes back to the old Chinese adage, Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he fishes for a lifetime. Entrepreneurs creating jobs are a lot more valuable to that soup kitchen guy than a bowl of soup.
a dual major in Forensic Accounting and Criminal Law would appear to have a bright future...
except for a degree in math or business
the “arts” have turned into re-education by a bunch of evil old has been communists
and it is all way overpriced to support their hedonist lifestyles
New petroleum engineering graduates are being paid $95k per annum.
An MBA or something like it afterwards might be a good idea too, though. Be a well-rounded person.
RE: New petroleum engineering graduates are being paid $95k per annum.
And companies in which states are hiring such grads?
Any of the hard sciences... engineering, medicine, biotech, computer science, nursing.
LibArts aren’t worth time and money.
Texas, North Dakota, Alaska
Bad advice. With colleges charging an arm and a leg, and people having to take out loans even to attend a crappy state school, its best to make sure that you can make some spondulicks after you get out.
Do you know any websites or anything that gives some info about petroleum engineering? Sounds like something worth looking into.
RE: Texas, North Dakota, Alaska
May I add Louisiana? (assuming the drilling moratorium is now over). Can California and Florida still be part of the picture?
A graduate of a merchant marine academy, who graduates as a third mate, makes about $100,000.
Major in Psychology,learn how to ‘read’ people then enter into the world of sales.
It’s NOT what you know but who you know and more importantly who you blow.
Humanistic Leechery, with a minor in Environmental Transgenderism
“Any of the hard sciences... engineering, medicine, biotech, computer science, nursing.”
And any of those except medicine/nursing will be outsourced. We show concern that students won’t take the difficult courses, that we don’t produce enough engineers and scientists. However, an engineering student is likely to be in debt $50k and up upon graduation. And the reward for working hard and going into debt? Being told it’s a global economy and at best he/she can take a job that will barely pay off the debt, or at worst, work at Burger King while engineering jobs are outsourced to India and China.
My son is college age, and trying to figure out what to study. My advice: Something that requires you to be onsite to do it. If it can be outsourced it will be outsourced.
Interesting how outsourcing proponents never, ever seem to worry about the damage to the country.
Traditional colleges - as sources of education, not networking or socializing - are a bubble in the making.
Just about anything worth learning, you can learn off the internet. You want to learn fundamental physics? Google the Feynman lectures in physics, buy yourself a none-current edition of a good physics text from Amazon for five bucks, and get to work. Most college physics teachers can’t teach for spit, and if you’ve got the talent, you’ll learn more on your own.
For something like literature, if you go to a traditional college you’ll get nine parts of political indoctrination for every one part of literary analysis. Ditto most of the other liberal arts subjects.
You’ll have a tougher time accessing advanced topics, and labs (in the sciences) are hard to find alternatives for, but eventually folks will start to realize there’s a market niche for these things, especially when you’re competing with sclerotic institutions that are putting kids almost a quarter of a million dollars in debt for an inferior product.
The question isn’t if, it’s when.
Construction Management is the easiest way to make 60K a year after college that I know of.
IT security is a pretty safe field. A good portion of the work literally can’t be outsourced due to regulations.
I switched to IT security from general IT about 8 years ago when H1B visas were picking up steam. Work has been steady.
if you don’t get an Ivy degree—then your major doesn’t matter
Reminds me of a business associate of mine whose wife worked in a New York area hospital. They hired a young doctor from Harvard. All of the management was fawning and drooling all over him....”ooooohhhh...he’s from HAAH-vahd!”
Meanwhile every nurse and candy-striper was running around the place, constantly covering for his mistakes, terrified that sooner or later this clown was going to kill someone.
“Colleges That Change Lives”
Engineering can be outsourced, but the training, discipline and no-nonsense objectivity associated with it (you can't bullsh!t your way through a career in designing buildings, for example) serves as a valuable platform to pursue careers in other fields.
Oops! Nursing graduates are not able to get jobs now becausing the nursing recruiters are importing H1 visa nurses from the Phillipines and such by the gazillions.
Millions of highly competent Americans with Business, Computer Science, Engineering, and other valuable degrees, are either unemployed or underemployed, because the liars, cheats, and thieves, commies all, of one sort or another, are running the show, everywhere.
Just a quick sample of the nation-killing garbage I've seen in the past three decades:
Our economy and overall national health are in exactly the condition you could expect them to be if you selected the least qualified and least competent persons in all the most critical positions in corporations, markets, academia, government bureacracies, political offices, media, etc.
Destruction of the USA could not have been planned better.
Why the “sarc”? I have a minor in African Studies that I got when I was an undergrad, and it has served me well. I’ve worked in Africa in resource management and an understanding of regional history, human geography and culture is invaluable.
You should consider studying at The Citadel. I earned a BS in Civil Engineering and it has been time and money well spent. Good places to study are out there you just need to spend your time looking and not go to the first place that accepts you. I turned down West Point to go to The Citadel and dont regret it.
My brother was class of 84 at the Citadel. My son was accepted there but chose Hampden Sydney instead.
I have to second the recommendation on design engineering. We are going to have to replace or refurbish buildings, roads and utilities what ever the economy. If a fellow had a mechanical engineering degree and worked as an apprentice plumber toward a Master Plumber / Journeyman status during the summer, for example he could go into design, design-build or construction itself based upon the market opportuinites upon completion.
As you have probably experienced, contractors hire civil engineers when needed as well as design firm.
I picked plumbing for my example because it is more capital intensive and electricians need few speciality tools to work in their trade.
Someone who can perform the craft as well as design for it has little chance of lacking work. I might add as an aside is that skill a letter writing and communication is the one thing that most engineers are weak on when entering the work force.
Did you know that Andy Bernard (The Nard-dog) went to Cornell?
Hey, our last four presidents have been Ivy Leaguers and look how well the country's doing. Barney Frank is another Ivy who has done wonders for the USA.
Texas and Oklahoma
I think I would enjoy being a petroleum engineer much more than a third mate merchant marine.
Hows about welding, plumbing, electrician, carpentry (rough and finish), farming, self-defense, small arms proficiency, outdoor survival skills, hunting, physical fitness, emergency medical care, holistic medicine, and water survival skills - just to name a few!
Hows about welding, plumbing, electrician, carpentry (rough and finish), small engine mechanics, farming, self-defense, small arms proficiency, outdoor survival skills, hunting, physical fitness, emergency medical care, holistic medicine, and water survival skills - just to name a few!
Our son, the lawyer, who knows almost everything went to one of the top 10 prep schools (poor boy scholarship), could have gone Ivy, but we couldn't afford it, thank God. Only think how obnoxious he might be if he had an Ivy degree and actually knew everything instead of almost everything.
I was simply pointing out alternatives. As a member of the Merchant Marine, with a Master’s license, you can make $500,000 a year and only work six months a year as a pilot. That’s a pretty nice life. As a petroleum engineer, unless you make top management, you won’t make over $150,000.
Also, some of the Petroleum engineers that I have known have had to live in some pretty awful places before they made top management, awful and dangerous.
“Any of the hard sciences... engineering, medicine, biotech, computer science, nursing.
LibArts arent worth time and money.”
Also leave behind biotech, unless you go for a Master’s degree, minimum. Same for computer science. There are a LOT of people who’ve been sold those degrees, but not a lot of jobs.
Nursing is past the peak of recruitment also. The last class here locally, less than 50% had jobs on graduation, including people already working in hospitals. Where I worked, they couldnt even hire people the hospital had sponsored through N-school, no positions.They ended up writing off tens of thousands of dollars of tuition and books, because they couldn’t hire the new nurses, voiding the contracts. The economy has prevented the retirement of a lot of the nurses who were headed out, so there aren’t as many positions as projected. The hospitals are also starting to look forward at the coming of Obamacare and are already reducing people and services.
You make a good point, but I still disagree with you. A kid who finishes a degree in whateverthehellheorshelovestodoandwantstostudyinskool is light years ahead of the kid who doesn't really know himself or what he wants to do, and takes uncle Ed's advice and majors in finance or whatever and then loses his way because he's miserable doing something that's not him.
I know a guy in his 50's who started in what's arguably the best pre-vet program in the country, made good grades, and then changed his major to horticulture after a year. "Because he wanted to." His girlfriend's vindictive Lutheran mother forced her to dump him when she heard about it.
Today, the guy has a master's of public administration degree and a really nice job in the public sector. And he's a more well-rounded person because of the depth of his experience. (I'm not saying the guy's necessarily a friend of mine; I'm saying I know him and his story. Just sayin', just in case he's lurking.)
I also know of a young lady whose parents had planned for her to enter the business world and to someday make it big with a title and a corner office, etc.
She had different plans - she went to a State School in Texas and majored in Theater. Today, she's directing plays on Broadway. I'm not saying this is my cup of tea, but it is hers. She might or might not be there 20 years from now doing the same thing. Maybe she'll someday decide to open a restaurant, a women's salon, or a gun store back home in Texas someday. And she'll succeed at it because she started with success. Doesn't she deserve the opportunity to do what she wants to do?
OTOH, there's no law that says a young person has to go to college to have a good life. Trade and occupational schools are always an option, as is military service. I think the important thing is for a young person to do SOMETHING, and to do it well, instead of just going where the current takes them... like some people I knew back in those days...
“As a petroleum engineer, unless you make top management, you wont make over $150,000.”
Not true. Those petroleum engineers starting out at $95k will be making well over $150k by the time they are 30. If they get an MBA and to into management the sky is the limit.
“””Also, some of the Petroleum engineers that I have known have had to live in some pretty awful places before they made top management, awful and dangerous.”
Look up the word hyperbole.
One of our good friends was the head of operations in Venezuela while Chavez was nationalizing the oil interests and he had to have 24 hour security guards for his wife because of death threats. That’s not hyperbole. Some of the other assignments that he had before that were almost as dangerous.
The basic approach is: If you’re good at it, and others are not, then that’s what you should do. It’s especially fulfilling if you enjoy doing it.
It’s very important to be self honest. For instance, let’s say I enjoy playing the guitar, and I think I’m really good at it. But there are tons of others who are good at it, and quite frankly, they are far better than me, so it wouldn’t be a wise career move to try to play in a rock band.