Friday, October 28, 2011

The death of the Liberal arts education curriculum.

Recently, Michael Crowe, President of Arizona State University argued for the maintenance of traditional liberal arts courses. He did so in response to Florida's Gov., Rick Scott, call for reductions in state appropriations for particular academic disciplines so that public universities can focus resources on producing graduates in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and math. although I am a proponent of a liberal arts education, I am unable to agree with Mr. Crowe.

Over 40 years ago I graduated with a Bachelors degree in psychology from a well-rounded liberal arts program.  I have no doubt that it made me a more complete person with a better understanding of the world around me. However, I went on to get a doctorate, which is how I earned a living. The realities of present day society are different than they were four decades ago.Getting a bachelor's degree in psychology, sociology, or English literature is not going to pay for an apartment in a major city, let alone student loans that have grown immensely.

My youngest daughter obtained a degree in mechanical engineering and in 2000 had no difficulty getting a well-paying job in Boston. She met other young woman her age who had liberal arts degrees from some of the finest universities in America. Many of them worked as "executive assistants" earning 60% of what she did. Before people get $50,000 or $100,000 in debt for their college education, they need to think about how they are going to pay it back. I think it is a shame that many of the courses that I took and enjoyed will no longer be offered. But the times change and what worked 40 years ago does not work today.

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