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« Another Unwinnable War | Main | The Value Of Sunsets »

What's The Value Of A College Degree?

A recent survey indicated that most people graduating from college are not proficient in English.

Of course, as usual, they break it down by race. But what would interest me much more is how it breaks down by major. How do engineers compare to science majors compare to English majors? How about "Womens" or "Ethnic Studies"?

Especially sad, I suspect, might be the results for schools of education, and journalism. But they don't show them.

Posted by Rand Simberg at December 16, 2005 10:10 AM
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I can't address the comparison, but I can say that the best engineering students are definitely proficient in English. Here at Virginia Tech, the University espouses a "writing across the curriculum" approach. Instead of teaching the students to write well in English courses, the major departments are expected to teach them to write well in the major courses. In Aerospace Engineering, our students write lab reports and project reports in several courses. I get the "space" students for the entire senior year, and I give them a variety of individual and group writing assignments. Part of the teaching is to provide them with feedback on writing assignments and require them to revise and resubmit (which means I do a lot more reading than I want to do). Much of the writing is quite rough at the beginning of the year, but for the most part all of their work is satisfactory to excellent by the time commencement rolls around.

Speaking of journalism, one of my colleagues just stopped in the office to tell me a joke:
God decided to end the world tomorrow, and sent angels to tell the major media outlets.

The Wall Street Journal ran the story on the front page, with headline World Ends Tomorrow -- Markets To Close Early.

The New York Times ran the story at the bottom of the middle column on page 16.

The Washington Post went with World Ends Tomorrow -- Women and Minorities Hit Hardest

Posted by chris hall at December 16, 2005 11:01 AM

I'd like to know how many English majors are proficient at math or science, but I suspect I know the answer already.

Posted by Larry J at December 16, 2005 12:55 PM

I'd like to know how many English majors are proficient at math or science, but I suspect I know the answer already.

Before I knew any better, I was an English major AND an Education major who also made it through to Calculus II. I now work as a software developer. Just before I graduated, the Dean of education told me--in somewhat insulting terms, that even though I was one of the best minds he had seen for a long time, he didn't think education was the field for me. I didn't have the right 'attitude engine'. After reading some of Gatto's work, the pieces started to fall into place for me.

Let's just put it this way--I did my student teaching semester at a public high school in Miami, and the whole time I couldn't shake the feeling that I was participating in a monstrous crime upon these children.

Posted by rycamor at December 16, 2005 09:38 PM

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