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China's Short-Sighted Move to Eliminate Less Lucrative College Majors

The Chinese Ministry of Education will eliminate fields of study from which fewer than 60 percent of graduates get jobs.


The latest twist in the debate over the purpose of a college education comes from China, where entire fields of study will be eliminated because they don't lead to jobs. The Chinese Ministry of Education announced last week that college majors from which the employment rate for graduates falls below 60 percent for two years in a row will be downsized or axed completely.

The Chinese government hasn’t announced which majors could be on the chopping block, but according to The Wall Street Journal, some schools are already cutting programs in areas of study—Russian, for example—that don’t directly prepare graduates for the country’s manufacturing sector.

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A World Without English Majors? Why Colleges Should Tell Students About Job Prospects Before They Commit

The U.K. wants to require schools to disclose employment data by college major.

Recent college grads still looking for full-time employment—or faced with the prospect of moving back home to live with mom and dad—are probably cursing their English and philosophy degrees. But while they're sending out resumes and getting rejected, in May there were 2.6 million unfilled jobs. The problem is that many of those positions are in science and tech—fields that most grads simply aren't prepared to enter. Now officials in the United Kingdom are proposing an interesting solution to the mismatch between majors and job prospects. They plan to require colleges to collect data about the employment and salary prospects of each degree. That way, majors with a poor employment track record will be "named and shamed" and the degrees with the worst records several years in a row would eventually be axed.

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A College Degree in Three Years? Why America Needs to Get on Board

Three-year degree programs save money and help students get on with their lives, but American students aren't signing up. They should be.

You'd think that given the spiraling cost of college, American students would jump at the chance to finish up school in three years instead of the typical four. With a three-year accelerated degree, parents have to fork over less cash for tuition and room and board, the family's loan burden is lighter, and students can get on with their career plans earlier. How does this not make sense? But despite the best efforts of both public and private universities to promote accelerated programs, students are sticking with the four-year college tradition. That's too bad because a three-year degree is a smart idea that we should be adopting.

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According to the court system, brain scans aren't quite yet ready to be used for lie detection, but a University of California Irvine School of Medicine scientist named Richard Haier believes that the answer to one's optimal career choice could be divined from peering inside his or her skull.

By comparing brain scans of 40 people (taken with magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI) with their results on a battery of tests that measured skills such as memory, spatial reasoning and analytical abilities, researchers were able to map mental faculties.

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According to a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (pdf), you are what you major in. More specifically, what you choose to study influences your political beliefs and civic behavior later in life.

Researchers at the Fed looked at students who chose to study economics in the years 1976, 1986, and 1996 at four universities: Florida Atlantic, Purdue, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Among their findings: The more econ classes a person took in college, the more likely they were to be a Republican. Students who majored in business were less likely to engage in time-consuming activities, such as voting in the 2000 presidential election, or volunteering for a cause.

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