The Liberal Arts and Humanities, Law School, and Careers for the Somewhat Unpractical Student

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76 Responses

  1. Will Truman says:

    There are definitely intellectual merits to what you’re talking about. I had at least some of the “small class advantage” by virtue of being in the Honors College which let me bypass a lot of the lecture hall courses. The HC is where my lifelong friends were made. It made a large school a lot smaller. I sometimes feel like it gave me the best of both worlds.

    And contrary to the bipartisan consensus, a lot of people aren’t meant for STEM degrees, wouldn’t enjoy it, wouldn’t do well, and shouldn’t go.

    Having said that, I’ll advise my daughter against the path that you took. Mostly because whether you’re majoring in something STEM or something else, I view college from an economic standpoint. The idea of spending all of that money without an idea of what comes next is just… anathema to me. It’s contrary to how I was raised and it’s been reinforced by the experiences of those around me. Some have gone on to success, others are trying to pay off tens of thousands of dollars in student loans while working a Verizon kiosk or something of the like.

    I guess my myopic killjoy attitude is that you can do a lot of the liberal arts learning on your own. The piece of paper that comes with the career stuff you really can’t.Report

    • NewDealer in reply to Will Truman says:

      Interestingly, I was raised a bit of the opposite. My parents raised me with the idea of education for the sake of education and the importance of academic mastery in a subject.

      I think both of them are relieved that I was not truly misfity enough to continue trying to be an artist but they see my MFA as something that I needed to do for personal development and a sense of achievement in that field.

      If I ever have children of my own, I would encourage them to study whatever they found fascinating but would also be honest about what a life in the arts can be like.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

        It’s interesting how different it is across family lines. There are class elements, political elements, and so on. One of the things I’ve noticed is that a lot of it seems to come down to a sense of economic vulnerability. The belief that even if you major in something that doesn’t lead to a career, that things will work themselves out. So you’re more free to focus on enlightenment, interests, and so on. I trace at least some of my family’s mentality on it to my father having been raised very poor and he and his siblings being the first to go to college. For them, college meant getting out of a particular trap. So you have to make the most of it. For my wife and her family, they were pushed away from the liberal arts due to her father’s overwhelming fear of vulnerability (being reliant on others, a husband, the government, etc.). Other segments of the family, however, just don’t seem to worry about it. Things will work themselves out. The kids are smart, competent, good, and so you shouldn’t close off avenues to their passions and intellectual development by forcing them – or nudging them – into a mercenary degree.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

          I see this even in PreK. I espouse a play-based approach to early childhood education. Some of the strongest pushback to this approach comes from people from lower socioeconomic classes and families of color. The underlying message seems to be, “Play? Are you kidding me? We’ve busted our ass to get to a place where we can have our kids in a private school. We have them here because we want to give them every educational advantage possible, advantages we and our parents before us were denied or could not access. And you want them to play? They can play at home. For free.”

          No one ever says that… not that way… but I have gotten that impression from parents and read scholarly pieces exploring the same idea. And it is kind of hard to argue against, to be perfectly honest.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Kazzy says:

            Yep. They could play at home for free. But they’ll learn better if they play too.

            If you want to argue against that perspective, I’d go to neurology and motivational psych for my backing. Then figure out a way to phrase those insights (many of which are commonsensical) in ways that don’t rely on a huge appetite for jargon. But I suspect you know more about those particular papers than I do :).Report

  2. Alex says:

    I’m a physics professor, and I think a lot of the calls to produce more STEM majors are ill-considered. It’s not the competition that I fear, it’s that a lot of the students in STEM are floundering. If anything, we should be saying to some of our STEM majors “Try something else.” For some of them it might be a different field within STEM. For some of them it might be business. For some it might be humanities or social science. For some it might be vocational training. For some it might be things that aren’t even on my radar. All I know is that if our science classes are full of people who can’t hack science, we should probably encourage some of them (for their own sakes) to try something else, and focus our attention on helping the rest succeed.

    However, while I agree that liberal arts education is important, one question worth asking is whether graduates of liberal arts colleges are successful in life because of what their colleges did for them, or if it’s because they were the brainy kids who were attracted to liberal arts colleges. The most likely answer is, of course, “Some of each”, but how much of each? If it’s primarily what their colleges did for them, then that has implications about what the rest of higher ed ought to be doing. If it’s primarily because they’re the sort who would go to a small liberal arts college, that should cause us to ask some questions before we encourage people at Mid Tier State University to major in humanities rather than business.Report

    • NewDealer in reply to Alex says:

      You bring up another interesting issue in your first paragraph. Many STEM proponents (especially the political ones) seem to think of intelligence as being something that can be applied in all majors. Simply this is not true. A good history major might not be a good comp lit major or a good engineering major.

      Everyone should have to take a broad base of classes to get a well-rounded education but I don’t think you can magically turn people into STEMers.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to NewDealer says:

        If you can’t, lord help everyone!
        Rhetoric, Grammar, Logic apply across disciplines.
        You don’t need to be the best at everything,
        but someone who can’t hook up a deerzapper
        needs more knowledge in science.

        I expect everyone ought to know what everyday household chemicals are toxic at reasonably acquired doses, which are hallucinogenic, etc etc.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Alex says:

      I fear that the emphasis on STEM is simply an attempt to account for current changes in labor, industries, and the economy. I often think that we may simply reach a point where we’re going to have many, many people who can’t find work, because there just isn’t as much demand for work. For whatever reason, the prevailing wisdom is that STEM fields are going to boom and that is where we should put our eggs… but I don’t know if I’m buying it. Given what Alex says here about the inability of many people who are attempting to pursue those routes failing to do so, I’m not sure that STEM is going to be the cure to fix what ails us.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

        For the reasons that Alex discusses, I think hard-science stuff is pretty self-limiting. Lots of people can’t do it. So it’s not like an overflow of people with, say, education degrees. I knew a lot of physics majors in college. I know almost nobody who graduated with a degree in physics. And they were smart people.

        (On the other hand, the “T” of STEM includes a lot of majors that most anyone can do. Those are the ones I would worry about getting too flooded.)

        So yeah, STEM isn’t going to fix what ails us. I do still think we should be encouraging it, because more people can do it than are doing it (more people here used to do it than do it currently, excluding imported talent), but on a subset of the population.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

          We should improve our STEM programs, including better identifying which students should be in the programs. And we certainly should give all students a stronger base of STEM skills. But we shouldn’t simply convert most of our existing programs into STEM programs, as I’ve seen some folks (not here) calling for.Report

          • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

            We should improve our STEM programs, including better identifying which students should be in the programs.

            I will take this for STEM, and raise it to (traditional) college in general.

            I’ve seen some folks (not here) calling for.

            Yeah, some people really do have a fetish.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

              I’m curious… when looking at applications, do schools look at majors? I know that different colleges within a university system often have different application criteria. But does a physics major fill out the same application as an English major? Are they held to the same standard? Perhaps they should not be. And perhaps changing majors should be harder than it is.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                I’m not sure I follow, so pardon if I’m not answering your question. Some selective schools may want some sort of “personal statement” about what you want to study and get out of the school (I’m guessing here, I went to big state school). My university didn’t care, though I had to apply to my college within the U separately. The Honors College apparently didn’t hold my major against me (I was one of two people in the Honors College that was coming from the College of Industrial Technology – a very unusual combination).Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

                Here is what I mean…

                If I apply to State U and indicate I want to be a physics major, do they put more weight into my science and math scores? Do they say, “How well will this student do as a physics major at State U?” Or do they say, “How well will this student do at State U?”

                If it is the latter… if they generally apply similar standards to all applicants regardless of major (again, speaking of folks within the same college… I know that at my undergrad the school of ed was easier to get in than the school of management), then I think there might be room for improvement by doing something other.

                If a university says, “You’re generally bright enough to attend here but you don’t have the chops for physics. We’ll accept you, but only into these programs because we don’t want to churn out sub-par physics majors,” that might be a preferable system.

                This would be a step towards better identifying students for the right programs, fine-tuning from the current system of simply identifying students for the right schools.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                If a university says, “You’re generally bright enough to attend here but you don’t have the chops for physics. We’ll accept you, but only into these programs because we don’t want to churn out sub-par physics majors,” that might be a preferable system.

                So Joe applies to the University of Deseret and wants to be a physics major. UD is just looking at his general transcript and whatever else they care about without much regard for whether he’s going to major in physics of physical education. However, to major in physics, he will at some point have to apply to UD’s College of Natural Sciences. The CNS may look at his transcript and say “no.” At which point, Joe either needs to consider Deseret State University or a major that’s not in CNS.

                That’s how I think it generally works. It’s by university (whether or not Joe gets in to UD) and then by college (whether or not he gets into the CNS).Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

                Got it. I really didn’t know how it works. I actually originally applied to BC’s School of Arts and Sciences, since I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I went in as undeclared. I transferred to the School of Education after a semester once I cemented that was what I wanted to do. Had I stayed in A&S, I suppose I could have chosen any major I wanted, which presumably could have led me to choosing one (Chemistry) I wouldn’t have been particularly good at.Report

              • I forgot that some colleges put arts and sciences together. It’s one of those things that baffles me.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

                Heh… we had a School of Nursing, School of Business, and School of Education in addition to A&S (for undergrad, at least… there were other graduate programs). A&S seemed largely to be everything that didn’t fit into one of the other three, which were all vocational schools.Report

              • NewDealer in reply to Kazzy says:

                It depends on the school in question.

                My school was undergrad only and had one application but I am sure they able to generate diversity in fields based on personal statements, the kind of after-school activities people did, etc.

                At large universities, there would be different schools and people would click a box. Sam would apply for the College of Arts and Sciences, Molly for the College/School of Engineering, and Phil for the School of Business, etc.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Kazzy says:

                CMU does not do this. you have like five different colleges there, that you apply to. and the College of Science is a LOT easier to get into than the College of Computer Science.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Alex says:

      Before the explosion in business schools and business education, lots of liberal arts people had great careers in business because they could write among other things.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to Alex says:

      Fucking hell. I hacked all the classes to bits. I’m still not cut out to be a physicist, because I can’t tell you why a pressure cooker cooks at 250 degrees under 15psi. Ya know, simple stuff. (by the way, you got the solution to that one? love ta hear it! I think it has something to do with the water inside not being compressible under pressure…)

      The math was easy. But the math isn’t where real physics is, anymore.

      Physics and Math programs recruit kids with fabulous analytical skills. And then they get out to the real world, where numerical methods and approximations are king.Report

  3. KatherineMW says:

    I think that the job prospects in the STEM field are somewhat overstated, speaking as a student who achieved a BSc in molecular biology with a year of work experience from co-op, failed to get more than one interview much less any jobs in that field, and is currently doing an MA. You’re not guaranteed to get a job no matter what you study; neither are you guaranteed not to get a job if you study the arts.

    But I don’t really like the idea of people starting university completely directionless because they don’t know what they want to do with their lives and just see university as the next step in “what you’re supposed to do”. I think it’s valuable to pick your degree with some knowledge of what you want to do with it. If you’re committed to being a writer, or to working in theatre, and you take English or Theatre, then that makes plenty of sense. If you strongly want to work in a museum or gallery, and you take Art History, ditto. But spending four years of your life and $20,000 or more on tuition alone to study something just for fun seems a little shortsighted, or at least highly privileged.

    The problem with the liberal arts degree is that we don’t live in the 18th or 19th century anymore where you needed to go to a university to learn the liberal arts. We live in a world where information, of all kinds, is probably more accessible than it every has been before. If you just want to learn about something interesting, you don’t necessarily need to go to university for that. (If the purpose of a liberal arts degree is not learning about the specific subject, but learning critical thinking and how to construct an argument and debate different points of view, then our high schools are failing us and we should be focusing on how to improve them, because those are things everyone should learn in high school.)

    (As a related point – I don’t think STEM majors should be required to take English Lit, as they were at my university, but they should certainly be required to take a few courses in the humanities or social sciences in order to make sure that they know how to write. There’s far too many undergrads, and all too many people writing peer-reviewed papers, in the sciences who don’t know how to write well. This is a necessary skill for anyone in any kind of academia, not an optional one. Teaching the effective use of language is one area where the liberal arts are completely undervalued.)Report

    • I think that the job prospects in the STEM field are somewhat overstated, speaking as a student who achieved a BSc in molecular biology with a year of work experience from co-op, failed to get more than one interview much less any jobs in that field, and is currently doing an MA.

      It is simply astounding how many supposedly intelligent people can get the STEM thing backwards. These are hard majors. You attract people to them by having good-paying stable employment opportunities as a result. It takes a significant amount of time to move between even nominally related specializations: spending some years past graduation learning to do HIPAA compliant database design doesn’t prepare you to do real-time control software for state-of-the-art medical imaging systems, or vice versa. Provide the job opportunities and the students will follow. Push students into a pipeline that has no jobs at the end and you get… unhappy underemployed graduates.

      The scary thing about the number of engineer graduates China produces isn’t the number of graduates. It’s that China works hard to provide engineering jobs for those graduates.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to KatherineMW says:

      I don’t think STEM majors should be required to take English Lit,

      As a STEM major who is proud to have a BA rather than a BS, I disagree completely. Being trained rather than educated is being shortchanged.Report

      • KatherineMW in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        But why English Lit specifically? It isn’t something that interests everyone (even people who might enjoy reading the classics on their own), and it doesn’t inherently make you a better writer. I think STEM majors should take some humanities or social sciences courses, but I don’t see any necessity in being picky about which ones they choose.Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to KatherineMW says:

          Any courses that requires a significant amount of both reading and writing will work. That makes English Lit a good choice.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to KatherineMW says:

          Lots of reasons — common cultural background being quite useful all on it’s own.

          But primarily? English Lit because you have to read and analyze — read and understand. Which is a critical life skill.

          Especially in science and engineering, when grasping that what someone just wrote probably wasn’t what they meant, or had imbedded assumptions you have to tease out, is important.

          Seriously — half of of my job as a software engineer is taking “What the customer says” and finding “What the customer meant”, because they aren’t even in shouting distance half the time.

          Strangely, reading Moby Dick and analyzing the snot out of it and coming to the conclusion that people read a LOT of stuff into it that the author never meant, except maybe subconciously? Same skills.

          Short of actual in-the-field experience, nothing beat English classes for interpreting, you know, the English language when it came to my job.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to KatherineMW says:

      Did you apply to Pitt? they’re always always looking for low-tier biology folks.Report

  4. KatherineMW says:

    As a separate point – I think there’s an additional reason why STEM majors may get more respect than liberal arts majors, aside from possession of applicable skills.

    Science faculties – and the more so the ‘harder’ science you go – select for the best students. In my first-year chem and math courses, it was quite clear that the difficulty level was deliberately set to drive the weaker students out of the degree. In, the first calculus course I took, our prof specifically informed us on the first day of class that about a third of the students typically failed. The point isn’t for everyone to get through; the point is for the students with the best combination of determination, hard work, and aptitude for the subject to continue pursuing a degree, and for the others to find something that they’re better suited to.

    This is not at all the attitude of arts faculties; in fact, based on discussions I’ve had, it’s anathema to them. Unless you skip your classes, spend the semester drunk or asleep, or have a personal crisis of some kind, it is nigh-impossible to fail a humanities course. Notwithstanding the last paragraph of my previous post, there are people out there with BAs who can’t write a coherent essay. And I suspect employers know it, and this influences what credentials they are and aren’t interested in.Report

    • aaron david in reply to KatherineMW says:

      I would say that this is basically correct, and I think is part of the reason for the renewed focus on STEM. Yes, those are jobs that are in high demand, but at the same time, they are quantifiable skill sets. The humanities on the other hand seem to have fallen into the “everybody is a winner” category from too many schools, and that is not something that employers really want to deal with.

      I also agree with you about writing. Far too many graduates cannot write a coherent sentence, and that goes for all majors at this point.Report

      • dhex in reply to aaron david says:

        “Unless you skip your classes, spend the semester drunk or asleep, or have a personal crisis of some kind, it is nigh-impossible to fail a humanities course.”

        blame not all the professors – it’s unhealthy for your non-tenured job to fail people, even if they’re plagiarizing their asses off. students – or in most cases, their parents – understand the transactional nature of their relationship to the university and lobby accordingly.

        this may change as having a “tougher” reputation becomes beneficial again as a way of separating (at a glance and based on stereotypes) the illiterate ba holders from the gud spellurs.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to KatherineMW says:

      “This is not at all the attitude of arts faculties; in fact, based on discussions I’ve had, it’s anathema to them. Unless you skip your classes, spend the semester drunk or asleep, or have a personal crisis of some kind, it is nigh-impossible to fail a humanities course. Notwithstanding the last paragraph of my previous post, there are people out there with BAs who can’t write a coherent essay. And I suspect employers know it, and this influences what credentials they are and aren’t interested in.”

      I wish my sister would do a guest post on this. She’s a prof at a major midwestern university, and there have been so may times where she will fail a student because after reviewing their final paper she found it copied verbatim from something on the internet, or recognized the language from a book she owned, etc. Invariably, the family of the student always sues the university to get them to revise the failing grade, since they’re paying customers or some such thing. I gather that it’s not always so cut and dry that the university stand strong in defense of the failing grade.Report

  5. I am totally the wrong person to ask your paragraph’s last question.

    I chose medicine right out of high school and entered a six-year combined BA/MD program in pursuit of that career. I did this not because I had a deep and abiding love for medicine, but I wanted a career I would find intellectually challenging, that would give me some sense of making the world better, and would be sufficiently remunerative and stable. (Were I to contribute something to the symposium it would be about this kind of program, but I’m a wee bit sketchy about further eroding my already-flimsy pseudonymity.)

    But, somewhat ironically, I made this decision because I love the humanities. I spent all of my free time in school going to movies mainstream and obscure, hanging out at the art museum, reading novels for the pleasure of it, getting the know the local theater scene, etc. I knew I’d always be able to finance my love of these things with my less-beloved but enjoyable-enough profession. I do have some regrets that I may have missed some of the really wonderful instruction in the humanities that a liberal arts degree would have afforded, but that was the calculation I made.Report

  6. Google “STEAM,” which puts the Arts back into it.Report

  7. zic says:

    Many people still seem to think of artistic talent as being innate over something that can be learned and developed through education and practice. This is not true. There might be something to an artistic nature but no artist emerges fully developed like Athena from the head of Zeus or Aphrodite from the Cyprian sea.

    This delighted me. Having spent my adult life with artists, most particularly jazz musicians, I’m constantly amazed at the perception that they ‘don’t work,’ and it’s ‘natural talent.’

    It takes an incredible amount of hard work and dedication to master something to the point that others see what you do and claim it’s ‘natural talent.’ It never is. Never. It’s Larry Bird, spending all day, day after day after day, shooting until he can hit the hoop no matter where is from the half-court line on. It’s the five or six days my sweetie puts in shredding songs full time; playing them over and over, exploring the potential, for a two-hour gig; the forty-plus hours it takes him to write a band arrangement for a three minute performance by the 30-odd members of his school band. The five sweaters I’ll knit completely before I finally settle on a set of instruction to write in my next design.

    If it looks easy, it wasn’t.

    I hope you’ll find opportunity to help people working in the arts; New Dealer. While it’s not the best-paying branch of law, there’s a definite need, particularly in IP law.Report

    • Michelle in reply to zic says:

      I do believe that some people have certain talents that others aren’t blessed with. But it takes a heck of a lot of work to hone that talent, and it’a always in process.Report

      • dhex in reply to Michelle says:

        one must keep in mind that plenty of people are acquainted (often via family) with artists/”artists”/artistes! whose dedication and hard work are devoted largely to excuses and resource-siphoning.

        well, that and youtube.Report

      • zic in reply to Michelle says:

        I don’t mean to minimize talent, or perhaps aptitude would be a better word.

        But productive creativity is 1/10 inspiration and 9/10 perspiration.Report

        • Kimmi in reply to zic says:

          eh. for some people. I know a guy who can compose something, and have it ready for production (aka get someone to learn it well enough to play it) within 12 hours.

          Most composers can’t pull that off, they have to edit their work too much.

          This isn’t to say he doesn’t work hard.Report

  8. Kazzy says:

    “My own personal journey is rather typical. After finishing undergrad, I went abroad for a year.”

    Is it really typical to go abroad for a year after graduating college?Report

    • greginak in reply to Kazzy says:

      In a certain class, yes it is .Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to greginak says:

        It might also be a generational thing.

        Way back when I was that age, it was actually pretty common – even for those that came fro lower-middle class families. (Backpacks, hostels, taking s**t wage jobs washing dishes in France to get airfare home, etc.) Those that just couldn’t even afford oneway airfare back then usually didn’t go to four year universities.

        I have the sense that due to the comparative cost of airfare, internet allowing people to experience things and people remotely, and probably a few other factors it just isn’t the thing it used to be.Report

    • Alex in reply to Kazzy says:

      I suspect that for some liberal arts college types, it is. Partly because they tend to be from more economically privileged backgrounds (though there are exceptions) and partly because of a more exploratory mindset and approach from those backgrounds.

      Me, I went to a big university for undergrad and went straight to grad school afterwards. I knew what I wanted to do, so I did it. Taking a year abroad would have been a detour.Report

    • NewDealer in reply to Kazzy says:

      I taught English abroad so I was working and paying rent.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to NewDealer says:

        Oh, I assumed as much (that you were working); I know some folks simply travel for a year (or more) but didn’t make you for the type -nor- the type who would find that typical.

        But I still think that is an atypical path. Many folks, who do not come from or anticipate having economic stability, any time spent not cultivating a long term career to help secure that seems like time wasted. I’ve admired friends who did similar type things, but always came back to feeling like I couldn’t risk my career path to pursue such flights of fancy. In reality, I probably could have… but I didn’t have that internalized mindset.Report

        • A Teacher in reply to Kazzy says:

          I also see a lot of people lament that year off of school as making college problematic to come back to. This may be a strong case of Your Mileage May Vary.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy says:

          American society never looked favorably at youthful experimentation much either. In Europe, Latin America, and elsewhere it was expected that people in universities would have a flirtation with radicalism and Bohemianism. I think since American colleges were mass phenomena much earlier, even in the 19th century university education was more common in the United States than elsewhere, American university education was more about careers than experimentation.Report

          • trumwill mobile in reply to LeeEsq says:

            That’s a really good point, Lee. Going back to the 19th century and you get the land grant act (agricultural and mechanical) and a surprising number of schools started out as normal schools (teachers).Report

    • A Teacher in reply to Kazzy says:

      When I suggested to my mother that I wanted to do a semester abroad during my senior year of college she actually demanded to see my drivers liscense and then demanded to know where on it was the name Rockerfeller. Needless to say I did not get much support for a semester abroad.Report

  9. Lyle says:

    Honors colleges have existed at some state schools for over 45 years. I was in an honors college at a major state university, and it allowed me to put together a major in geophysics which was not really offered as such. (I started with physics, and delete the quantum mechanics, in favor of mineralogy, petrology and the like.) I also took advanced humanities courses in stead of the offered basic course, such as both terms of music appreciation that the university offered, and east asian history, 2/3s of the schools secular bible course (a public school so the bible was taught as literature, as well as a medieval history course).
    So if your grades are good enough you can typically take advanced courses over the intro ones. (Back then you could also take a test and just skip the class). I actually made Phi Beta Kappa with a science degree, the major obstacle for most was the 2 year equivalent language, but I had 4 years in high school, with 2 of them with a native speaker, so I placed out of the first 2 year sequence.
    So its possible to get some humanities in with STEM, mine was good enough to get me into a top geophysics graduate school.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Lyle says:

      I went to Robert D Clark at Oregon, and the big advantage I remember is that even as a freshman my classes were all of a dozen or so students, and very geared toward group discussions on the readings. I would highly recommend it over the mega-seating, Thunderdome classroom lectures my fellow dorm mates had to endure.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to Lyle says:

      Wow. we gotta lot of physic majors around here.Report

  10. Slade the Leveller says:

    I began my college career as a Mechanical Engineering student at IIT. After 5 semesters of screwing around, I left before they could kick me out. I then went to a smallish Catholic college and got a degree in History. Following that I got a M.A. in American History. Not much work available in that field, then or now. So, I did what I needed to do and got a job working in a factory, where I stayed for 10 years. And now, I’m working as an accountant while pursuing a B.S. in that field. (And boy is business school easy!)

    All of this roundaboutness leads to this point: No education is wasted. My liberal arts degrees made me a better thinker and writer, 2 invaluable skills in any age. I can follow a science discussion because I had some education in that, as well. And best of all, at parties I’m not a crashing bore because I’ve not done the same thing my whole life.

    So, in answer to your questions in the last paragraph, in order: Let them pursue what they want to pursue; Nope, did it myself, and I’m a better person for it; I recommend to my kids to at least take a couple of business courses, it’s great practical education; There are some, you just have to look for them. They’re usually small and less risk-averse than Fortune 500 companies which our hypothetical Art History graduate would find stultifying anyway.Report

  11. James K says:

    I agree with you, we shouldn’t be focusing higher education on purely economic concerns. I would say more, but when my Symposium post comes out, it will explain more.Report

  12. Kumodini Jain says:

    A good article.Since I have given the entrance examination for Symbiosis School of Liberal Arts so I would enlighten you the details of it.Liberal Arts is a subject which can give new direction. As far as the subjects goes… Economics,Business Studies, Media Studies, Sociology, English, Psychology, or Political Science & Public Policy are the main subjects. It’s a very nice place to get it started and the institute also offers 4yr graduation is Liberal Arts. However,she has to qualify Symbiosis Entrance Test (SET) to get there. SET is the common entrance exam for the undergraduate courses in the university. Basic Maths, Logical Reasoning, General Knowledge and Englishbased questions are generally asked in SET. You can register online for SET. For any help see,