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skippercollector Donating Member (26 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-11 06:56 PM
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What will happen to liberal arts degrees?
I have a liberal arts degree, and so does one of my sisters. Of course, that was in the 1980s. My bachelor of arts degree is in mass communications/journalism, and I worked at a newspaper for 17 years and now work in PR for a hospital. My sister has a marketing degree and works in the marketing department of a personal care products company.
Even 30 years ago, a liberal arts degree was an acceptable major. The term was very broad: journalism, marketing, psychology, anthropology, sociology, English, history, another language, even the arts themselves, etc. After you graduated, you could write or teach or assist the disadvantaged or even travel the world.
From what I understand, many (although not all) of the Occupy Wall Streeters have graduated with liberal arts degree. Even 10 years ago, you could have graduated with such a degree and found a job. But the economy crashed after the most recent liberal arts students were still in college, or just out of it, and the jobs they were studying for no longer exist.
I always thought that the purpose of a liberal arts degree was to not only to prepare you for a career but to give you an overview of the world.
But some time in the past 10 years that attitude became obsolete. The only careers that are acceptable now are in engineering or business. In the past six months I have read many disparaging remarks such as "those useless liberal arts degrees." That makes me angry.
Why is having a broad education about many topics unacceptable now? Why are people whose degrees are in engineering or business so contemptuous of those whose education is different? What will happen to the liberal arts degree in the future? Will there be a time again when it it an acceptable and useful field of study?
I realize that businesses' purpose is to make money, and to do so with as few expenses as possible (and that includes fewer employees). But what happens in the future when the business staffers no longer have the ability to write comprehensive and literate assignments because they didn't study enough of it in school? Or don't have the background to understand other cultures, other languages, even other people whose ideas simply differ from their own?
One last topic: Not everyone wants or needs to attend college. I've read much discussion about how high schools should bring back vocational education, which sounds wonderful but will take a while to implement. But what if a student were like me--not interested in mechanics or production, and just an okay student in math and science, but way off the charts in reading and writing? I honestly don't know what I would be doing at this point if I were in high school today trying to decide on a career when what I love doing is considered either obsolete or unimportant by so many today.
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-11 07:01 PM
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lbrtbell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-11 07:04 PM
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2. That's disgusting...but sadly true. n/t
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provis99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-11 08:11 PM
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3. we already graduate way too many engineers and science degrees.
Most engineers and science majors don't work in their major fields at all; sales and marketing departments hire more engineers than actual engineering firms do.

There seems to be unlimited demand in America for litigation lawyers, corporate tax attorneys, and financial consultants, however.
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Celebration Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-11 10:58 PM
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5. no demand for law school graduates either n/t
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exboyfil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 03:37 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. Why do you think engineers get hired into so many
different fields? Either companies are moving in lockstep without considering the bottom line (engineers are expensive) or engineers bring value to these companies.

Also if we have too many engineering and science graduates, why do we have so many H-1B Visa individuals?

My company recently doubled the bounty on bringing engineering recruits into our company. I was shocked, but this indicates that we are having difficulty recruiting talent.

I am advising my daughter, who is interested in video editing/cinema/journalism, to pursue an engineering undergraduate degree with a film studies minor. At least in today's market the difference is stark: $60K+ starting salary as an engineer with 90%+ placement versus $30K and uncertain placement. The nice thing about an engineering degree, which you pointed out, is that it can take you in almost any direction; and, if your avocation does not work out, it will serve to put food on the table in the interim.

Engineers also study other fields besides math and science. Many (like me) spend a great deal of time studying history. I am also interested in archeology, general science, and education. Many liberal arts degrees have little quantitative content, but most science and engineering majors contain extensive humanities and social studies content.
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exboyfil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 03:37 AM
Response to Reply #3
7. Why do you think engineers get hired into so many
different fields? Either companies are moving in lockstep without considering the bottom line (engineers are expensive) or engineers bring value to these companies.

Also if we have too many engineering and science graduates, why do we have so many H-1B Visa individuals?

My company recently doubled the bounty on bringing engineering recruits into our company. I was shocked, but this indicates that we are having difficulty recruiting talent.

I am advising my daughter, who is interested in video editing/cinema/journalism, to pursue an engineering undergraduate degree with a film studies minor. At least in today's market the difference is stark: $60K+ starting salary as an engineer with 90%+ placement versus $30K and uncertain placement. The nice thing about an engineering degree, which you pointed out, is that it can take you in almost any direction; and, if your avocation does not work out, it will serve to put food on the table in the interim.

Engineers also study other fields besides math and science. Many (like me) spend a great deal of time studying history. I am also interested in archeology, general science, and education. Many liberal arts degrees have little quantitative content, but most science and engineering majors contain extensive humanities and social studies content.
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exboyfil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 03:38 AM
Response to Reply #3
8. Why do you think engineers get hired into so many
different fields? Either companies are moving in lockstep without considering the bottom line (engineers are expensive) or engineers bring value to these companies.

Also if we have too many engineering and science graduates, why do we have so many H-1B Visa individuals?

My company recently doubled the bounty on bringing engineering recruits into our company. I was shocked, but this indicates that we are having difficulty recruiting talent.

I am advising my daughter, who is interested in video editing/cinema/journalism, to pursue an engineering undergraduate degree with a film studies minor. At least in today's market the difference is stark: $60K+ starting salary as an engineer with 90%+ placement versus $30K and uncertain placement. The nice thing about an engineering degree, which you pointed out, is that it can take you in almost any direction; and, if your avocation does not work out, it will serve to put food on the table in the interim.

Engineers also study other fields besides math and science. Many (like me) spend a great deal of time studying history. I am also interested in archeology, general science, and education. Many liberal arts degrees have little quantitative content, but most science and engineering majors contain extensive humanities and social studies content.
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ElboRuum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-11 08:53 PM
Response to Original message
4. Well, let's sort out your laundry list...
Marketing has become absorbed as a part of a business curriculum. Anthropology, sociology, psychology, and other formerly lib arts degrees have been absorbed into more rigorous science curricula, and careers in these fields often require a masters or better.

It's not the liberal arts degrees that have become devalued. It is the bachelor's degree itself that has become devalued. I think the reasoning for business and engineering is that a bachelor's in these fields are still well valued, and due to the spiraling costs of education, spending more than 4 years in college is just economically not feasible. I think the only point being made is that it isn't that a liberal arts education isn't valuable in and of itself, it's that supporting yourself on it in the current day and age is next to impossible unless you are certain you are going to do post-graduate work, and really, who's got that kind of money?
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ObamaFTW2012 Donating Member (147 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 04:56 PM
Response to Original message
9. In my opinion
there are too many people going to college. I think that many people simply aren't smart enough for a college education, and have business being there at all. We need more ditch diggers, house painters, masons, etc. Colleges have watered down higher education so as to pass more students and basically sell more degrees, as they are (mostly) businesses selling a product. We don't need a nation full of college-educated people. We need an educated society, but we need productive people in all fields, even skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled labor.

America spends too much time "selling" and not enough "producing". That's why China is whooping our ass economically.

Before anyone attacks me for what I've said, let me state here that I attended college (art school in NYC) and I own a cabinet shop (skilled labor job). I respect both worlds.
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