College students are turning away from degrees in the liberal arts and Marc Vogl says we are all the poorer for it.
The U.S. Department of Education reports that bachelor's degrees awarded in Computer Science rose by 62,000 in the last ten years – an increase of 144%. The number of students graduating with History degrees fell by 23,000, or 35%.
The numbers are also rocketing up for degrees in engineering, natural resources, and math; and are in free fall for those majoring in English, foreign languages, religious, ethnic, cultural and gender studies.
One interpretation is that students who went to college after the 2007-2008 recession were acutely aware that their college degree – their very expensive college degree – needed to set them up for a high paying job. And the money, over the last 10 years, has been in the energy, pharmaceutical and tech sectors. Nothing wrong with that on the face of it.
But, in aggregate the story of a workforce - much less a generation – that is oversupplied with STEM majors and under supplied with Humanities majors worries me. And, if you care about hyper partisanship, polarization and how our Democratic institutions will survive if we can’t find common ground, then you should worry too.