More and more, college students are focused on finding a spot in the workplace over “developing a meaningful philosophy of life.” That comes from a recent New York Times article, which probes into the choices that colleges are making on cutting and adding new programs to reflect demand and students’ desires amid a tight labor market.
The piece highlights how traditional liberal arts degrees — like English — are being tailored to help students find jobs. “Even before they arrive on campus, students — and their parents — are increasingly focused on what comes after college. What’s the return on investment, especially as the cost of that investment keeps rising? How will that major translate into a job?”
Although many students are focusing on their careers earlier and earlier, the article cites an Association of American Colleges and Universities survey that showed an overwhelming majority of employers are concerned with jobseekers’ skills (critical thinking, oral/written communication, creativity/innovation, etc.) rather than simply the degrees they earn.
A telling quote comes from Katherine Brooks, director of the liberal arts career center at the University of Texas. “There’s this linear notion that what you major in equals your career. I’m sure it works for some majors. If you want to be an electrical engineer, that major looks pretty darn good. … The truth is students think too much about majors. But the major isn’t nearly as important as the toolbox of skills you come out with and the experiences you have.”