What’s a College Major Worth?
By Ben Wildavsky
Ever since I read about the Chinese Ministry of Education’s decision to phase out college majors that don’t give graduates marketable skills, I’ve been pondering the parallels between China’s higher ed headaches and those of the United States. Both countries have pushed hard to send more students to college, on the theory that building human capital will advance individuals’ prospects in the labor market while simultaneously promoting national economic growth. Yet both now see a distressing number of college graduates without jobs. That’s in part because the skills they possess often don’t seem to match those that employers — at least those that are hiring — want from new recruits. So is China doing the right thing? And should the United States follow suit?