Art Students Should Fair Better Despite Higher Unemployment
Reading current standard media output on graduate employment and education may give some the idea that campuses these days are a theatre of war, some kind of donnish Stalingrad. Two opposing towers, the sciences and the humanities, constantly under siege and facing each other across no-man’s land: the former college green and remains of a library, littered with rejected papers, propaganda cartoons stating “why you should study cinema”, and graduates’ dreams. Careful; a deadly witticism may have your name on it.
This may be an exaggeration, but in what way? Whenever graduate education is discussed in the media, the only thing one walks away with is a feeling that subjects are fighting each other for students and Inca gold, or at least should be. Employment figures are the main cause of this sentiment. Although such figures are hugely important, employment studies, such as the latest from Georgetown University, hint at this through the powerful argument that is minimalist statistics, statistics and statistics. And media reporting takes the meat instantly.
Researchers never intended this, but this is how such reports are read and disseminated. In the United States, the measured unemployment rate for Bachelor graduates is 9%. “Is college still worth it?” the latest report asks. It apparently “depends on your major,” for, they say, “not all degrees are created equal.”
The study, taken in 2009 and 2010, found that architecture grads have the highest unemployment rate, 13.9%. Then, what the study temerariously calls “non-technical majors”: arts at 11%; Humanities and Liberal Arts, 9.4%; Social Science, 8.9%; and Law and Public Policy 8.1%.
After this, mathematics and computing grads vary depending on their specialties, with information systems grads at 11.7%. For computer science its 7.8%; mathematics 6.0%, and then 5.4% for healthcare and education grads. Psychology, business and engineering rates are around 7%.
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The effects of economic downturn are here, hence the large percentage for architects. And the report doesn’t chastise majors, nor use it as a weapon for such arguments; but one could see how it will be a weapon for others. Everyone knows that, according to the most erudite commentators, an arts degree is “useless”, and here is more proof. Studies have been showing this for a while now, so certain subjects must be ridiculed, and possibly thrown into the gladiator pit while the “useful” subjects watch. This use of the term “useful” is so pervasive that talk is even made of hierarchical “use” of subjects. The Georgetown study has come into the discussion already.