LETTERS: Arts and humanities much riskier than STEM student loans | Letters

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bad investment

The United States has $124.4 billion in outstanding student loan debt, affecting 9 million borrowers and their families. In recent years, it has been reported that “69% of students have taken out student loans”.

Arts and humanities majors have the highest default rates in the country — 14% to 27%, depending on the type of institution. STEM majors have the lowest default rates. Business and career majors are lacking at slightly higher rates than STEM, but at lower rates than arts and humanities.

I doubt anyone in the academy would reject the value of including the arts and humanities in a college education, but many of these majors have declined in both relevance and professional application. The arts and humanities must review what they teach and realize that – if they are to encourage students to specialize in their field – they must clearly connect the dots to viable careers that allow students to both earn their lives and pay off student debt. Until then – until substantial progress is seen – further investment in areas where default rates are rising would, in my view, be misguided.

In fact, I think some of these majors should be subject to sunset review. It is essential that the academy prepares its students well for the careers of the future. At the same time, we need to realize that we now live in a global marketplace and no one institution can afford to be or effectively deliver everything to everyone.

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