Downright unsettlin’, higher education edition:

Instapundit had this quote the other day, from the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Alex Tabarrok:

In 2009 the United States graduated 89,140 students in the visual and performing arts, more than in computer science, math, and chemical engineering combined and more than double the number of visual-and-performing-arts graduates in 1985.

On its face, that’s downright unsettlin’. Upon further review, though, I’m not so sure. Yes, that’s an awful lot of “visual and performing arts” degrees. But…that paragraph implies that it’s a ridiculous number, compared to the number of computer science, math, and chemical engineering degrees.

And maybe it is. What exactly does one do with a “visual and performing arts” type degree?

On the other hand, what’s the nationwide demand for “chemical engineering” degrees? Why did Alex pick that, instead of civil, or mechanical engineering? Or just “engineering?” How do the foo-foo majors compare with engineering?

That’s not quite the point, of course. More likely, the point is: lots and lots of students are spending years and money on degrees for which there is no obvious demand and, even for the demand that exists, the pay mostly stinks.

Which brings me back to this paragraph, from earlier in Alex’s piece:

In 2009 the United States graduated 37,994 students with bachelor’s degrees in computer and information science. That’s not bad, but we graduated more students with computer-science degrees 25 years ago!

More computer science degrees in 1987 than in 2009? How does that make any sense?

(Posted by The TrogloPundit.)

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