The ongoing attacks on liberal education often imply that liberal arts graduates are destined for unemployment, or at best meanly compensated toil. It sounds right. Most of us didn’t get that kind of education in hopes of getting rich. But is it really true?
Why not try to find out?
Peter Ewell tells me that is just what is happening: “In partnership with the Association oif American Colleges and Universities , the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems is conducting a long term study of this topic using data from the American Community Survey (the replacement for the Census). The design is to look at earnings by major for cross-sections of age groups in ten year increments all the way up to "over 60." Our hypothesis is that although professional degrees produce an early bump in earnings right out of college, the advantage goes more to people who have honed critical thinking skills, often with a bump from a liberal arts major in the later years of a career. We will also be looking at graduate school impacts, because we know that liberal arts majors disproportionately go to graduate “school (think Biology to MD and Political Science to JD). “
The study is being funded by the Spencer and Teagle Foundations, God bless ‘em! The report should be out by early fall. Stay tuned.