To be “relevant” to students, some colleges are dropping unpopular classics and philosophy majors and pushing career prep, reports the New York Times.
The University of Louisiana, Lafayette, is eliminating its philosophy major, while Michigan State University is doing away with American studies and classics, after years of declining enrollments in those majors.
And in a class called “The English Major in the Workplace,” at the University of Texas, Austin, students read “Death of a Salesman” but also learn to network, write a résumé and come off well in an interview.
Students and their parents want a return on their degree — in dollars and cents, not enlightenment. In 1971, 37 percent of UCLA freshmen said it was essential or very important to be “very well-off financially,” while 73 percent said the same about “developing a meaningful philosophy of life.” In 2009, 78 percent identified wealth as a goal, while 48 percent were after a meaningful philosophy.
Business has been the top major for 15 years. Now students also are turning to health fields, environmental science and bio-anything. Chinese and Arabic are hot, while French and German are not.
Employers surveyed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities take a broader view:
. . . 89 percent said they wanted more emphasis on “the ability to effectively communicate orally and in writing,” 81 percent asked for better “critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills” and 70 percent were looking for “the ability to innovate and be creative.”
I majored in English and Creative Writing.