College majors & unemployment

Colleges are getting blamed for turning out so many unemployable graduates with “impractical degrees” in the humanities.  Critics are saying that students should take “practical” majors like business or other job-training fields as a way to reduce unemployment.

But that’s exactly what college students, including the unemployed graduates, have already been doing!  Only 12% are humanities majors.  What we have now is a glut of unemployed business majors, computer programmers, and (especially) architecture majors.

Bloomberg’s Virginia Postrel gives the facts and the economics behind the issue (such as supply and demand:  if everyone would or could go into the “high-paying” fields, they would no longer be high-paying):

Contrary to what critics imagine, most Americans in fact go to college for what they believe to be “skill-based education.”

A quarter of them study business, by far the most popular field, and 16 percent major in one of the so-called Stem (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Throw in economics, and you have nearly half of all graduates studying the only subjects such contemptuous pundits recognize as respectable. . . .

Most are studying things that sound like job preparation, including all sorts of subjects related to health and education. Even the degree with the highest rate of unemployment — architecture, whose 13.9 percent jobless rate reflects the current construction bust — is a pre-professional major.

The students who come out of school without jobs aren’t, for the most part, starry-eyed liberal arts majors but rather people who thought a degree in business, graphic design or nursing was a practical, job-oriented credential. Even the latest target of Internet mockery, a young woman the New York Times recently described as studying for a master’s in communication with hopes of doing public relations for a nonprofit, is in what she perceives as a job-training program.

The higher-education system does have real problems, including rising tuition prices that may not pay off in higher earnings. But those problems won’t be solved by assuming that if American students would just stop studying stupid subjects like philosophy and art history and buckle down and major in petroleum engineering (the highest-paid major), the economy would flourish and everyone would have lucrative careers.

That message not only ignores what students actually study. It also disregards the diversity and dynamism of the economy, in good times as well as bad.

Those who tout Stem fields as a cure-all confuse correlation with causality. It’s true that people who major in those subjects generally make more than, say, psychology majors. But they’re also people who have the aptitudes, attitudes, values and interests that draw them to those fields (which themselves vary greatly in content and current job prospects). The psychology and social work majors currently enjoying relatively low rates of unemployment — 7.7 percent and 6.6 percent respectively — probably wouldn’t be very good at computer science, which offers higher salaries but, at least at the moment, slightly lower chances of a job.

Whether they’re pushing plumbing or programming, the would- be vocational planners rarely consider whether any additional warm body with the right credentials would really enhance national productivity. Nor do they think much about what would happen to wages in a given field if the supply of workers increased dramatically. If everyone suddenly flooded into “practical” fields, we’d be overwhelmed with mediocre accountants and incompetent engineers, making lower and lower salaries as they swamped the demand for these services. Something like that seems to have already happened with lawyers.

Not everyone is the same. One virtue of a developed economy is that it provides niches for people with many different personalities and talents, making it more likely that any given individual can find a job that offers satisfaction.

As any good economist will remind you, income is just a means to utility, not a goal in itself. Some jobs pay well not only because few people have the right qualifications but also because few people want to do them in the first place. In a culture where many people hate oil companies, petroleum engineers probably enjoy such a premium. Plumbers — the touchstone example for critics who think too many people go to college — certainly do.

The critics miss the enormous diversity of both sides of the labor market. They tend to be grim materialists, who equate economic value with functional practicality. In reality, however, a tremendous amount of economic value arises from pleasure and meaning — the stuff of art, literature, psychology and anthropology. These qualities, built into goods and services, increasingly provide the work for all those computer programmers. And there are many categories of jobs, from public relations to interaction design to retailing, where insights and skills from these supposedly frivolous fields can be quite valuable. The critics seem to have never heard of marketing or video games, Starbucks or Nike, or that company in Cupertino, California, the rest of us are always going on about. Technical skills are valuable in part because of the “soft” professions that complement them.

via Business: Washington Post Business Page, Business News.

I think the real problem is the academic collapse that has been documented in virtually all subjects that has taken place in most of today’s colleges and universities.  (Not at Patrick Henry College where I serve, I am happy to say, where our graduates with their classical liberal arts foundation are even doing well in today’s job market.)

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Rose

    In past good times, there seemed to be collusion between professors and college students: hours were short for both in the classroom and standards were eroded. Students in non-STEM majors had short hours, short academic calendars, and lots of unscheduled time to party. It’s good to know there are now standardized tests at the college level to measure accountability.

  • Rose

    In past good times, there seemed to be collusion between professors and college students: hours were short for both in the classroom and standards were eroded. Students in non-STEM majors had short hours, short academic calendars, and lots of unscheduled time to party. It’s good to know there are now standardized tests at the college level to measure accountability.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    You can’t make people competent by credentialing them.

    The government gives the loans which causes a surplus of money in the education market. The colleges raise their prices and let in more students to make more money.

    Over a year ago, tODD suggested right here on this very blog that students should have to meet some minimum standard just to walk in the door. Yes, indeed.

    Of course Patrick Henry grads are valued. Not only does Patrick Henry have great teachers and curriculum, and the students walk in the door knowing more than most college graduates, the average Patrick Henry student is a top 5% student based on their SAT/ACT scores as reported by the College Board.

    Of course employers are willing to bet on a sure thing.

    http://collegesearch.collegeboard.com/search/CollegeDetail.jsp?collegeId=227266&profileId=6

    http://www.assessmentpsychology.com/iq.htm

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    You can’t make people competent by credentialing them.

    The government gives the loans which causes a surplus of money in the education market. The colleges raise their prices and let in more students to make more money.

    Over a year ago, tODD suggested right here on this very blog that students should have to meet some minimum standard just to walk in the door. Yes, indeed.

    Of course Patrick Henry grads are valued. Not only does Patrick Henry have great teachers and curriculum, and the students walk in the door knowing more than most college graduates, the average Patrick Henry student is a top 5% student based on their SAT/ACT scores as reported by the College Board.

    Of course employers are willing to bet on a sure thing.

    http://collegesearch.collegeboard.com/search/CollegeDetail.jsp?collegeId=227266&profileId=6

    http://www.assessmentpsychology.com/iq.htm

  • trotk

    Rose, what are you claiming? That humanities degrees in the past were non-rigorous?

    If that is your claim, you need to define what school you are talking about and what era of that school you are referring to.

  • trotk

    Rose, what are you claiming? That humanities degrees in the past were non-rigorous?

    If that is your claim, you need to define what school you are talking about and what era of that school you are referring to.

  • DonS

    As sg says above, the real problem is the glut of college students. We have created a mindset that you are a failure if you don’t go to college, so we have a lot of students clogging up seats in colleges, driving up tuition and government subsidy costs, who don’t belong there. Their presence causes a dumbing down of academic programs, and is harmful to society in general.

    What about the trades? We used to have a vibrant trade school and apprenticeship model here in the U.S. and it’s been largely abandoned. We don’t need 50 million business majors, prepared to run businesses, and very few who can actually do the work of producing needed products and services! No other country runs like this — they have substantive entrance exams, and if you do not pass those exams you are not going to university.

  • DonS

    As sg says above, the real problem is the glut of college students. We have created a mindset that you are a failure if you don’t go to college, so we have a lot of students clogging up seats in colleges, driving up tuition and government subsidy costs, who don’t belong there. Their presence causes a dumbing down of academic programs, and is harmful to society in general.

    What about the trades? We used to have a vibrant trade school and apprenticeship model here in the U.S. and it’s been largely abandoned. We don’t need 50 million business majors, prepared to run businesses, and very few who can actually do the work of producing needed products and services! No other country runs like this — they have substantive entrance exams, and if you do not pass those exams you are not going to university.

  • Bob

    I agree with DonS.

    We do need more actual people to do trade work, etc.

    Too bad with the demise of unions and the rise of vampire capitalism, we don’t pay these folks enough for them to raise a family and make a decent wage. Their services have been hugely devalued. Now we’re known basically as a country where we know how to manipulate money.

  • Bob

    I agree with DonS.

    We do need more actual people to do trade work, etc.

    Too bad with the demise of unions and the rise of vampire capitalism, we don’t pay these folks enough for them to raise a family and make a decent wage. Their services have been hugely devalued. Now we’re known basically as a country where we know how to manipulate money.

  • PinonCoffee

    Pray. Pray for discernment as to what your vocation is, pray to make it through, and after you graduate, pray like mad for a job to open up. Have all your friends, relations, and church people pray too. :-) It works! The economy withers, the HR managers fade, but the providence of God endures forever.

    @Rose – I don’t think humanities majors suffer from lack of accountability, exactly. Serious students keep themselves busy. The humanities programs I’m thinking of went off the deep end because of lousy philosophy and worldview. No test is going to fix that. There are a few instances where standardized tests perform a measurable (imperfect) good, like entrance exams for college, law school, med school, etc., but the trend has been to keep multiplying them in intervals, especially at the elementary and secondary levels. And THAT, I am convinced, is a colossal waste of learning time and teachers’ patience — which is definitely a precious resource!

    To sum up… I don’t think more standardized testing would improve individuals, schools, or the economy. What we need is more Christ and more Christians educating, working, and living in His wisdom. And I mean that very seriously.

  • PinonCoffee

    Pray. Pray for discernment as to what your vocation is, pray to make it through, and after you graduate, pray like mad for a job to open up. Have all your friends, relations, and church people pray too. :-) It works! The economy withers, the HR managers fade, but the providence of God endures forever.

    @Rose – I don’t think humanities majors suffer from lack of accountability, exactly. Serious students keep themselves busy. The humanities programs I’m thinking of went off the deep end because of lousy philosophy and worldview. No test is going to fix that. There are a few instances where standardized tests perform a measurable (imperfect) good, like entrance exams for college, law school, med school, etc., but the trend has been to keep multiplying them in intervals, especially at the elementary and secondary levels. And THAT, I am convinced, is a colossal waste of learning time and teachers’ patience — which is definitely a precious resource!

    To sum up… I don’t think more standardized testing would improve individuals, schools, or the economy. What we need is more Christ and more Christians educating, working, and living in His wisdom. And I mean that very seriously.

  • Dust

    Yes love the trades….plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, carpenters, custodians and landscapers, etc. and often would advise my students (college) to consider them. After all, the richest guy in the world is a college drop out, as was one of the coolest, Steve Jobs?

    You can often be your own boss, make very good money (often more than many college grads….ever see what they charge for an emergency house call to fix some plumbing problem, or close your automatic garage door stuck open just as you are leaving to an important meeting at the office, ha)…and they can’t outsource your work, lots of job security :)

    Well, there’s a really great book that says it all much better: “Shop Class as Soul Craft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work” by Matthew B. Crawford.

    Here’s the link to Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/Shop-Class-Soulcraft-Inquiry-Value/dp/0143117467/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326485293&sr=8-1

    Note: in addition to working with his hands, the author is a Ph.D in Philosopher (one of the most useless degrees, ha) from the University of Chicago…and plenty of funny things to say about it!

    Here’s a link (hopefully) to the C-SPAN book notes episode with the Author, very enlightening and very entertaining, he is a great story teller with a modest and humble style:

    http://www.booktv.org/Program/11418/2010+Virginia+Festival+of+the+Book+Matthew+Crawford+quotShop+Class+as+Soulcraft+An+Inquiry+Into+the+Value+of+Workquot.aspx

    Check it out, then perhaps go enroll in a good vocational program :)

    Cheers!

  • Dust

    Yes love the trades….plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, carpenters, custodians and landscapers, etc. and often would advise my students (college) to consider them. After all, the richest guy in the world is a college drop out, as was one of the coolest, Steve Jobs?

    You can often be your own boss, make very good money (often more than many college grads….ever see what they charge for an emergency house call to fix some plumbing problem, or close your automatic garage door stuck open just as you are leaving to an important meeting at the office, ha)…and they can’t outsource your work, lots of job security :)

    Well, there’s a really great book that says it all much better: “Shop Class as Soul Craft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work” by Matthew B. Crawford.

    Here’s the link to Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/Shop-Class-Soulcraft-Inquiry-Value/dp/0143117467/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326485293&sr=8-1

    Note: in addition to working with his hands, the author is a Ph.D in Philosopher (one of the most useless degrees, ha) from the University of Chicago…and plenty of funny things to say about it!

    Here’s a link (hopefully) to the C-SPAN book notes episode with the Author, very enlightening and very entertaining, he is a great story teller with a modest and humble style:

    http://www.booktv.org/Program/11418/2010+Virginia+Festival+of+the+Book+Matthew+Crawford+quotShop+Class+as+Soulcraft+An+Inquiry+Into+the+Value+of+Workquot.aspx

    Check it out, then perhaps go enroll in a good vocational program :)

    Cheers!

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg
  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg
  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Well, there’s a really great book that says it all much better: “Shop Class as Soul Craft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work” by Matthew B. Crawford.

    Yeah, but stuff like that builds self sufficiency and self esteem in young men. How will the feminists gain equality if guys have a chance to pursue their strengths?

    Honestly, it takes more real work and thinking skills to be a journeyman plumber or electrician than to get a sociology degree and a low level state university, which is why so many men ignore the hype of college and skip it. Hence the 60% female proportion in colleges despite there being a higher proportion of more academically able men.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Well, there’s a really great book that says it all much better: “Shop Class as Soul Craft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work” by Matthew B. Crawford.

    Yeah, but stuff like that builds self sufficiency and self esteem in young men. How will the feminists gain equality if guys have a chance to pursue their strengths?

    Honestly, it takes more real work and thinking skills to be a journeyman plumber or electrician than to get a sociology degree and a low level state university, which is why so many men ignore the hype of college and skip it. Hence the 60% female proportion in colleges despite there being a higher proportion of more academically able men.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    There are a few instances where standardized tests perform a measurable (imperfect) good, like entrance exams for college, law school, med school, etc., but the trend has been to keep multiplying them in intervals, especially at the elementary and secondary levels. And THAT, I am convinced, is a colossal waste of learning time and teachers’ patience — which is definitely a precious resource!

    The cow won’t get any heavier by weighing it more often.

    Way too much standardized testing. Once every two or three years is plenty.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    There are a few instances where standardized tests perform a measurable (imperfect) good, like entrance exams for college, law school, med school, etc., but the trend has been to keep multiplying them in intervals, especially at the elementary and secondary levels. And THAT, I am convinced, is a colossal waste of learning time and teachers’ patience — which is definitely a precious resource!

    The cow won’t get any heavier by weighing it more often.

    Way too much standardized testing. Once every two or three years is plenty.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    My brother did that, went to a tech school. Was a good move for him.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    My brother did that, went to a tech school. Was a good move for him.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Hilarious blog even if you don’t agree with all he says.

    http://100rsns.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Hilarious blog even if you don’t agree with all he says.

    http://100rsns.blogspot.com/

  • helen

    That “dumbing down” is called “encouraging diversity”!

    The name all over our MBA school was a college dropout. He did real well in new and used car dealerships and has shown his considerable gratitude to his (almost) “alma mater”. 8-^)

  • helen

    That “dumbing down” is called “encouraging diversity”!

    The name all over our MBA school was a college dropout. He did real well in new and used car dealerships and has shown his considerable gratitude to his (almost) “alma mater”. 8-^)

  • Apocryphon

    One of the problems in this country is the negative attitude towards the trades, where blue collar jobs are seen as inherently less paying or more difficult or less fulfillment. Compare that to white collar drone life, whether as a secretary or even as a high-paid programmer (as seen in Office Space), and it shows that perceptions are skewed.

  • Apocryphon

    One of the problems in this country is the negative attitude towards the trades, where blue collar jobs are seen as inherently less paying or more difficult or less fulfillment. Compare that to white collar drone life, whether as a secretary or even as a high-paid programmer (as seen in Office Space), and it shows that perceptions are skewed.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @14

    Perceptions are skewed, granted. However, women are falling for it more than the guys as I noted @9. That means they will be accruing more debt and less earnings than the guys. This is especially true of those with marginal academic ability. Women with marginal academic ability will be worse off for going to college and not getting some sort of practical degree like nursing than their academic male peers who skip the whole fool exercise and start working directly in some sort of practical and useful trade. I mean, if all a guy does is install cable TV, at least he isn’t going into debt, and he is getting a paycheck. The gal who gets a sociology degree with a 2.8 GPA from podunk U will have a bunch of (non dischargeable) debt and not much more earning power than no degree. If she has $20 k in debt and earned $10 k less per year each year she was enrolled, that is an opportunity cost of $60 k. If she only lands a job that pays $20 k, she had better marry that cable guy quick, because even saving on rent is a big help with so little earning power.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @14

    Perceptions are skewed, granted. However, women are falling for it more than the guys as I noted @9. That means they will be accruing more debt and less earnings than the guys. This is especially true of those with marginal academic ability. Women with marginal academic ability will be worse off for going to college and not getting some sort of practical degree like nursing than their academic male peers who skip the whole fool exercise and start working directly in some sort of practical and useful trade. I mean, if all a guy does is install cable TV, at least he isn’t going into debt, and he is getting a paycheck. The gal who gets a sociology degree with a 2.8 GPA from podunk U will have a bunch of (non dischargeable) debt and not much more earning power than no degree. If she has $20 k in debt and earned $10 k less per year each year she was enrolled, that is an opportunity cost of $60 k. If she only lands a job that pays $20 k, she had better marry that cable guy quick, because even saving on rent is a big help with so little earning power.

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    whoops-belongs here!
    C-Christian Soldier January 14, 2012 at 2:41 am

    as I have asked before- give my best wishes and say hello to Mike Farris for me—
    As an Homeschooler (early ’80s) -I can say that my son is doing very well-
    Saying that- I must confess that I no longer recommend to those who ask- that the young go to universities – unless they are of the ilke of USMA-USAFA-USNA – CGA- or Hillsdale- or Patrick Henry –
    Start your own business or learn on the job-
    Carol-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    whoops-belongs here!
    C-Christian Soldier January 14, 2012 at 2:41 am

    as I have asked before- give my best wishes and say hello to Mike Farris for me—
    As an Homeschooler (early ’80s) -I can say that my son is doing very well-
    Saying that- I must confess that I no longer recommend to those who ask- that the young go to universities – unless they are of the ilke of USMA-USAFA-USNA – CGA- or Hillsdale- or Patrick Henry –
    Start your own business or learn on the job-
    Carol-CS

  • Dust

    sg…you should seriously consider getting off the gender bender now, it just doesn’t have the same punch it did 40 or 50 years ago :)

    cheers!

  • Dust

    sg…you should seriously consider getting off the gender bender now, it just doesn’t have the same punch it did 40 or 50 years ago :)

    cheers!

  • kerner

    I agree with DonS @4 And some of Bob@5, But Bob, things aren’t as bad as you think.

    One of my sons in law applied for an apprenticeship with the carpenter’s union. He had to take a bunch of standardized tests to be accepted (I guess everybody uses these, sg) and there were also personal interviews.

    After he was accepted, he was given a letter of introduction from the union, and told he could try to line up interviews himself, but the union would give him referrals too. So far he has gotten one referral, applied, and has gone to one job interview…And he was offered a job! That’s right. ONE INTERVIEW and he has a job. In Wisconsin, where construction is very slow in the winter. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

    Now, I think my son in law is an exceptional guy, so maybe other young people’s results will vary. But don’t tell me that working people can’t get family sustaining jobs because of the evil capitalists, or even because Obama has killed the economy. Not that these things don’t present obsticles. They do. But obsticles can be overcome.

    The biggest problem people have today is they get too invested in hating our economic system, when they should be trying to figure it out.

  • kerner

    I agree with DonS @4 And some of Bob@5, But Bob, things aren’t as bad as you think.

    One of my sons in law applied for an apprenticeship with the carpenter’s union. He had to take a bunch of standardized tests to be accepted (I guess everybody uses these, sg) and there were also personal interviews.

    After he was accepted, he was given a letter of introduction from the union, and told he could try to line up interviews himself, but the union would give him referrals too. So far he has gotten one referral, applied, and has gone to one job interview…And he was offered a job! That’s right. ONE INTERVIEW and he has a job. In Wisconsin, where construction is very slow in the winter. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

    Now, I think my son in law is an exceptional guy, so maybe other young people’s results will vary. But don’t tell me that working people can’t get family sustaining jobs because of the evil capitalists, or even because Obama has killed the economy. Not that these things don’t present obsticles. They do. But obsticles can be overcome.

    The biggest problem people have today is they get too invested in hating our economic system, when they should be trying to figure it out.

  • Micheal B.

    I love how un-politically correct the link that sg posted was: http://www.assessmentpsychology.com/iq.htm

    “bright normal, dull normal, mild retard, profound retard”.

  • Micheal B.

    I love how un-politically correct the link that sg posted was: http://www.assessmentpsychology.com/iq.htm

    “bright normal, dull normal, mild retard, profound retard”.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @19 Did you look at both links?
    If you had, you would notice that the average Patrick Henry student scores like the average Ph.D./M.D. So, yeah, they are pretty employable.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @19 Did you look at both links?
    If you had, you would notice that the average Patrick Henry student scores like the average Ph.D./M.D. So, yeah, they are pretty employable.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @17

    Do you want me to apologize for the truth, or admire the emperor’s new clothes.

    The highly able women who have profited from affirmative action for women are the ones driving the growing income gap. Fewer jobs good jobs at the top for men, because women who are married to high earning men are taking the jobs. As a consequence lower earning women must work to make ends meet. Also higher earning women are more likely to be married and stay married, whereas lower earning women are more likely to be divorced. No wonder women are less happy now than they were 30 years ago.

    I get really irritated when people complain that the truth of our situation isn’t what it was supposed to be when we re engineered society.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @17

    Do you want me to apologize for the truth, or admire the emperor’s new clothes.

    The highly able women who have profited from affirmative action for women are the ones driving the growing income gap. Fewer jobs good jobs at the top for men, because women who are married to high earning men are taking the jobs. As a consequence lower earning women must work to make ends meet. Also higher earning women are more likely to be married and stay married, whereas lower earning women are more likely to be divorced. No wonder women are less happy now than they were 30 years ago.

    I get really irritated when people complain that the truth of our situation isn’t what it was supposed to be when we re engineered society.

  • George DeMarse

    Good points in this article. We hear all this broo-ha-ha about colleges graduating “meaningless” majors–the severe shortage of STEM graduates–U.S. students failing math and science in international standards, blah, blah.
    Let’s face it–the U.S. will always have a shortage of STEM graduates if you listen to the political pundits and corporate suits. But if you listen to the STEM graduates, many aren’t all that thrilled with their “careers.” It’s hard, dull and long hours. Being treated like a commodity does not help.
    STEM is an “aptitude.” You either have it or you don’t. It is not a matter of “studying harder” or “better prep” as some pundits proclaim.
    Pay attention to Howard Gardner here. There are different “intelligences” that are at play that some people have more of than others. Our educational system needs to develop whatever “intelligences” students have–whether it be mathematical, language, musical, emotional, whatever.
    Can our education system manage it? Probably not. They will keep forcing math and science down the bulk of humanity’s throat.
    Better to have a great Beethoven than a mediocre, what’s his name?
    Vive la shortage de STEMe!

    U.S. Office of Personnel Management (Ret.)

  • George DeMarse

    Good points in this article. We hear all this broo-ha-ha about colleges graduating “meaningless” majors–the severe shortage of STEM graduates–U.S. students failing math and science in international standards, blah, blah.
    Let’s face it–the U.S. will always have a shortage of STEM graduates if you listen to the political pundits and corporate suits. But if you listen to the STEM graduates, many aren’t all that thrilled with their “careers.” It’s hard, dull and long hours. Being treated like a commodity does not help.
    STEM is an “aptitude.” You either have it or you don’t. It is not a matter of “studying harder” or “better prep” as some pundits proclaim.
    Pay attention to Howard Gardner here. There are different “intelligences” that are at play that some people have more of than others. Our educational system needs to develop whatever “intelligences” students have–whether it be mathematical, language, musical, emotional, whatever.
    Can our education system manage it? Probably not. They will keep forcing math and science down the bulk of humanity’s throat.
    Better to have a great Beethoven than a mediocre, what’s his name?
    Vive la shortage de STEMe!

    U.S. Office of Personnel Management (Ret.)


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