Phi Beta Cons

Liberal Arts Students Earn Less?

The sky is falling!  The Wall Street Journal ran an article titled “Parents’ Fears Confirmed: Liberal Arts Students Earn Less” that appeared to assert that students going to a liberal arts college will be economically worse off than peers at “research universities.” 

Woe unto them, until you read the subtitle of the article:

“Students at elite liberal arts colleges don’t make as much early in their careers as those who attend highly selective research universities” 

…and look at the study itself:

“The Journal compared median earnings 10 years after students enrolled at the most selective liberal arts colleges in the country to median earnings for students at the most selective research universities.”

While taking out six-figures to study navel gazing at a liberal arts college is not sound advice, don’t put Shakespeare away just yet (although some of those schools are voluntarily doing that).  The data do not control for factors like graduate school or major. 

This is classic correlation, not causation.

On a side note, there’s hope that I can finally publish my study, “Kinesiology Majors Have Bigger Biceps.”


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