When The World is At Your Fingertips…It Can Get Pretty Heavy

Screen shot 2013-06-25 at 1.11.25 PMHigh school graduates are under more pressure than ever to pursue majors they believe will lead to lucrative jobs in the workforce. As the frequency with which students deliberately choose “practical” majors increases, so does our culture’s overt dismissal and passive oversight of the set of disciplines known as the humanities. Particularly in the past few years, the importance of the subject matter, as well as the unique academic skill set acquired through its study, have become but faint whispers compared to the booming demands of society and the “real world” after college. Studying literature, philosophy, art and so forth lets students advance their ability to think and write clearly while gaining a deeper understanding of humans’ cultural, social and historic tendencies. We asked our Zintro experts with experience in education to discuss this shift in scholarly pursuits and consider what effect the change could have on the job market.

“Unfortunately,” Maria Sometti begins, “more and more students choose major subjects that potentially guarantee a better income in the future rather than [ones] of personal interest. As a result we have an overwhelming number of accountants, economists and managers compared to new names appearing in the field of arts and humanities. This leads to a certain imbalance of the job market, which, I believe, will sooner or later turn into a big international issue.”

Joseph Schmoke, an online for-profit colleges and educational services specialist, thinks “worrying about how a decrease in humanities majors will affect the job market is like worrying about a splinter when there’s a plague in the village.” He asserts that “The real worry is the push to get more and more students to major in a technical field of study [when] an individual should enroll in a field of study that is compatible with what, and who, [he or she] is.”

He explains: “Every study that’s been undertaken indicates that at least 50% of college students change their field of study prior to graduation- some more than once. This is a clear indication that the majority of college enrollees are selecting a major that is not compatible with their abilities and [or] personality. The result many times is an employee who ends up in a job that doesn’t fit him. This, I would venture, has a much greater effect on the job market than a lack of familiarity with the humanities.”

Following in a similar vein, David Waldron, an expert in the post-secondary, for-profit, education services industry, points out that “colleges and universities with the best academic delivery models require students to take general education courses, including humanities, regardless of their major. For example, I was a business major, but 35% of my course requirements were in general studies. I took courses in music, photography, art history, literature, environmental studies, etc. And even within my business major, I was required to take courses in social sciences.”

By Gabriela Meller


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