Assistant Village Idiot looks at education from a biological perspective.
In evolutionary biology, there is a concept of conspicuous display of resources, even wasting resources (especially among males), to advertise that one has good and to spare.
In the next paragraph she applies that to post-secondary education:
I wonder if something similar hasn’t been increasingly at work in liberal arts college education.
Then she makes a point that, I think, shows the naivete of youth:
On an individual level, a degree one finds enjoyable, rather than one that is geared toward income, announces that the bearer has such talent that they can find remunerative work anyway.
In this economy, we are finding that this assumption is simply untrue. Yes, in the 70s people could find jobs outside of their educational niche. That is no longer commonly true. Yes, there are a few people who have done that. By and large, though, people are working in what they were educated in. That’s a problem when you have lots of English majors and too few nurses.
Perhaps the issue isn’t one of naivete of youth, but of lack of awareness on the parts of those who are steering the young. What do we who came of age in the 70s say to the entering freshman of the oughts or teens to give them an accurate sense of the struggle the workplace can become?