Opinion

To boost college graduates’ job prospects, cut humanities

Story by Ty Smith, The Saint Reporter
Photo courtesy of linkedin.com

According to the U.S. Labor Department, half of college graduates are unemployed or underemployed. In addition to being underemployed, college graduates hold $1 trillion in student debt, and pay the largest tuition fees the United States has seen. Nobody likes this situation, but nobody seems to know how to fix this. I have the answer for you— cut the departments that make students unemployable.

Young people are more likely to be employed in jobs that do not require a college education than ones that do demand it. 100,000 work in the food service industry, while only 90,000 have jobs as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians, according to the Labor Department. Even in the white-collar world, there are more jobs in the low end than the higher end. For an example, 163,000 young people worked as receptionists or clerks while only 100,000 were computer professionals.

Unsurprisingly, some majors are more prone to generating underemployment than others. Those with majors in humanities degrees such as zoology, philosophy and art history don’t stand a real chance of getting a job that actually use their degrees. However, those with nursing, teaching, or computer science degrees were one of the most likely groups to find jobs that require those degrees, according to the Labor Department.

The solution to this problem is as simple as eliminating departments that offer unemployable majors. After all, it makes no sense for students, lenders and parents to send a child to college to study humanities if they don’t have a chance at getting a job that uses the skills they paid for. If colleges cut those departments, costs would drop because they would stop having to pay teachers and administrators in their departments.

Those students who wanted to study humanities could skip college and go straight to their jobs as waiters and receptionists. If they wanted to learn about the humanities, they could read the books during their breaks while working as a Starbucks barista. They’d not have to incur crushing debts that they would never be able to pay back, and their parents could save their money, and perhaps retire. Lenders could even lower the rate of student loan defaults.

Meanwhile, by only offering employable majors, colleges could operate with a lower cost and therefore reduce their tuition. That means students would more likely be able to attend college without borrowing.

The beauty of this idea is that it would make everyone better off. Humanities students would be saved from making an investment in college that would not pay off, and those students who want degrees in employable fields could do so without incurring nearly as much debt. But in order to achieve this, academia has to stop pretending that the reality of economics does not apply to them. It’s becoming too burdensome for all but the richest students and parents to bear.

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