Over at Forbes.com

Majoring in an obscure language or esoteric subject doesn’t condemn a student to itinerant professorship or garrett living. See my latest post at Forbes.com:



3 thoughts on “Over at Forbes.com

  1. Thanks for the heaping helping of common sense, Will. As usual, your stuff is as refreshing as it is informative. As both a liberal arts grad and a father to two kids who are nearing college age, I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to assess the value of a major. Broadly speaking, I see two approaches. In one, the major offers a platform for learning direct skills a specific job or family of jobs requires. Engineering, business, pre-law, pre-med, and any liberal arts degree designed to lead to a teaching career in that discipline fit this category. Then there are indirect skills that are essential in just about any job but that aren’t necessarily going to appear in a job description (though they should), e.g. writing, critical thinking, speaking, organization, quantitative rigor. I can get behind any major that empowers its students with enough either direct or indirect skills, the latter of which are more commonly associated with the liberal arts.


    • Matt- Thanks for your comment. Interestingly enough, Amherst magazine arrived yesterday and listed the top majors for this year’s seniors. They were economics, English, math, political science, and psychology. I see all of these (and of course other majors the College offers) as home base, from which students can move in almost any direction. One thing I didn’t mention, but that you’ve touched on in some of your columns, is how fast things change in business and technology these days. That means it’s more problematic to learn a specific thing in college, since by the time you graduate the whole landscape may have evolved.


      • You’re correct that the rate of change is such that we all have to be nimble in ways our parents didn’t. A degree only marks the end of formal education. The informal stuff never ends, or never should end.


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