Is anybody else out there concerned about the popularity of vocational college degrees?
I’m talking about degrees like sports management, film production, park & recreation, information technology, homeland security and communications. And, of course, the biggest vocational major of all – business.
Vocational degrees have always been around. Until the mid 1960s, there was a balance between vocational degrees and liberal arts degrees. Since then, however, the liberal arts have been getting pummeled. Today 64% of college students are enrolled in vocational degrees.
The Decline of the Arts & Sciences
Since the 1960s, physical science majors have dropped by 60%, English only attracts half as many majors and history and foreign language have fared even worse. Some universities are kicking less popular foreign language offerings to the curb.
If you want to read a wonderful book that explains why we should care if young Americans are spending their college years learning to be fire safety specialists, landscape architects, IT guys and marketers, I’d urge you to read a wonderful book that just came out in paperback: Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids – And What We Can Do About It by Claudia Dreifus and Andrew Hacker. Or at least visit their website: High Education?
What College Classes Are Important
I pulled my copy of Higher Education? off the shelf yesterday after I visited the website of the American Council on Trustees and Alumni, which for years has decried the fact that so many colleges and universities are allowing undergrads to skip out on classes that should be in any core curriculum.
ACTA released its annual report card this week that attempts to measure whether colleges are requiring their young charges to be well-rounded before they leave with their diploma. To receive an A on the ACTA report card, schools must require undergrads to take classes in at least six of the following seven disciplines that the council believes should be in any core curriculum:
- Foreign language
- US government or history
- Natural or physical science
While ACTA surveyed more than 1,000 colleges and universities, only 19 actually received an A. I guarantee that you’ll be surprised at what schools didn’t make the list. I shared the names of these 19 schools, and had further to say on this subject, at my college blog at CBS MoneyWatch. Please take a look here:
What Do You Think?
Do you believe that I’m off base for suggesting that a student’s time in college should be devoted primarily to learning how to think, write and reason rather than learn a trade? I think the former abilities are vastly more valuable when grads are looking for jobs and they will make them more thoughtful citizens. I’d love to hear what you think – just use the comment box below.
Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes college blogs for CBSMoneyWatch and US News & World Report.