Even if you don't teach psychology, you might want to pay attention to this post, as it pertains to many disciplines.
Florida's governor recently called public university presidents to a meeting, asking why they can't be sure graduates in their most popular majors will all be employed. His stated example is psychology, as reported by Josh Logue, in Inside Higher Ed. Please have a look.
It happens that psychology is a popular major everywhere, but most graduates in the field obviously don't become psychologists. The same could be said for a host of other disciplines, especially in the liberal arts, fine arts, humanities, and social sciences.
From the IHE piece:
The question of undergraduate psych major employability is a raw one in Florida. Last year, Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and current presidential candidate, suggested a psychology (or philosophy) major is likely to put a graduate behind the counter at Chick-fil-A. His comments prompted a speedy social media backlash from happily employed psychology majors. And several years before that, a state senator singled out psychology as undeserving of state support.
"When the No. 1 degree granted is psychology and the No. 2 degree is political science, maybe before we ask $100 million more of taxpayers we should redeploy what we have," State Senator Don Gaetz said. "That way we make sure we're not sending graduates out with degrees that don't mean much."
Such sentiments are not unique to Florida. You'll hear them during hearings of the Texas Legislature.
Leaving aside for a moment the well-reported reality that college grads in all majors eventually tend to get good jobs, and that most individuals will change careers repeatedly anyway, a larger issue is at stake—namely, who exactly should make this decision, the Legislature or the students themselves?
Admittedly, it gets complicated here in Texas, with mandated core curricula and statutes requiring history and government, not to mention extra appropriations to schools for producing grads in STEM fields. And yes, tax dollars are at stake.
But students choose majors largely because they find a particular subject (or teacher) interesting, allowing the intellect to flourish, in some cases for the first time. Why discourage this?
We are living in a time when some policy makers decry "big government," while questioning the wisdom of individual choice when it comes to his or her own future. Does government (um…that would be the Legislature) know best?
Curricula should change with the times, and nothing is permanent. However, Latin and Greek—once presumed to be staples of an educated mind—largely disappeared when students quit signing up. That should be the most important factor.