These degrees may have gone cold in Pennsylvania's higher education system
Fear for the future of the cartography major.
The new head of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education was ominous in his remarks on Thursday regarding the future of the 14 universities he oversees. Chancellor Frank Brogan said that in the face of rising costs, shrinking enrollment and declining subsidies, the system needs to reinvent itself.
Toward that goal, Brogan plans to examine what for generations has been the foundation of a liberal arts education: Programs in which the prospects of obtaining a post-graduation job are as dim as the light of a 25-watt bulb.
The cost of a college education has skyrocketed in recent years. As a result, many parents are questioning the wisdom of spending tens of thousands of dollars only to have their children emerge after four years of rigorous study with a degree that they consider to be — not to use too academic a term — useless.
Brogan appears to be rightfully concerned that parents have begun to steer their kids away from expensive majors that lead to nothing more lucrative than a job manning the cash register at a Famous Footwear. If kids aren't majoring in such programs, a university's reason for offering them dramatically diminishes.
Still, Brogan should proceed cautiously before making any dramatic cuts. The benefits of many majors currently offered at the system's universities might not be immediately obvious, but they certainly exist.
Let's hope Brogan sees the wisdom in keeping:
• Cartography majors
Having been well-educated in map-making, none of them should ever get lost on the way to their local unemployment office.
• Furniture design majors
They're able to design and build an assortment of ornate end tables; the stockpile later can be burned for warmth after the heat is shut off because the bill isn't paid.
• Fashion merchandising majors
Who better would know which of the gently used clothes available at the thrift shop will provide pajama-like comfort for those cold nights sleeping under the highway overpass?
• History majors
They can provide far greater detail on the origins of the restaurant chain that employs them than, say, someone with a cartography degree. “Good evening, my name is Walt, and I'll be your server tonight. Did you know that the first Applebee's opened in 1980 in Decatur, Ga., and was called T.J. Applebee's Rx for Edibles & Elixirs?”
• Philosophy majors
They can bring intellectual gravitas lacking in most soup kitchens by paraphrasing French philosopher Rene Descartes while quieting their growling stomachs. “I eat, therefore I am. Say, buddy, are you gonna finish that roll?”
• Archaeology majors
Compared to others who insisted on pursuing dead-end majors, people possessing this degree are much more adept at digging through Dumpsters for food.
Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt falls flat in finale loss to Miami
- Absenteeism high on first day back after Peters Township teacher strike
- Body found in Allegheny River in Harrison
- 3 police hurt in shooting near Colo. Planned Parenthood clinic; gunman loose
- Indiana County school employee allegedly showed 2 students an inappropriate photo
- Chief justice revokes Feudale’s senior judge status
- Steelers plan to use smart pass rush against Seattle QB Wilson
- So Many Questions: ‘Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce’ actress says breaking up is rarely easy
- Steelers notebook: Linebacker Timmons hoping for contract extension
- 5 hospitalized when family’s SUV runs off Route 51 in Rostraver
- School lunch group hopes to revise rules it calls impractical, too restrictive