There is light at the end of the tunnel after all.
As parents and young people finally wise up to the fact that the return on investment for a college degree is often dismal — depending on your major — enrollment at some four-year institutions is floundering.
Now, as some universities face steep budget shortfalls, they’re faced with tough choices: evolve or die. One university in Wisconsin has decided it wants to live.
“The University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point has proposed dropping 13 majors in the humanities and social sciences — including English, philosophy, history, sociology and Spanish — while adding programs with ‘clear career pathways’ as a way to address declining enrollment and a multimillion-dollar deficit,” The Washington Post recently reported.
Campus officials have said that the school faces a $4.5 million deficit due to declining enrollment and lower tuition revenue, and has proposed adding or expanding 16 programs in areas “with high-demand career paths as a way to maintain and increase enrollment,” the Post reported.
Here’s what’s on the chopping block:
• American Studies
• Art – Graphic Design will continue as a distinct major
• English – English for teacher certification will continue
• History – Social Science for teacher certification will continue
• Music Literature
• Political Science
• Sociology — Social Work major will continue
And here is where the campus plans to grow:
• Chemical Engineering
• Computer Information Systems
• Conservation Law Enforcement
• Fire Science
• Graphic Design
• Captive Wildlife
• Ecosystem Design and Remediation
• Environmental Engineering
• Geographic Information Science
• Master of Business Administration
• Master of Natural Resources
• Doctor of Physical Therapy
Of course, cue the protests. But the reality is administrators cannot magically fix the budget problems without making hard decisions based in real-world logic.
As the Post points out: “The push away from liberal arts and toward workplace skills is championed by conservatives who see many four-year colleges and universities as politically correct institutions that graduate too many students without practical job skills — but with liberal political views.”
Finally, perhaps, campus administrators are beginning to realize it too.