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More Washington students majoring in subjects that actually lead to jobs

For ages, Washington students majoring in somewhat less than useful degrees have heard judgmental snickering from family members, usually followed by a “What are you going to do with that?” But new college data shows that some of them have apparently been listening.

“It seems like they’ve woken up to the fact that majoring in like American poetry for lesbians is probably not the best degree to get,” joked KIRO Radio’s John Curley. “They’ve decided to do something else. Maybe they might not be happy, but at least they’ll have a job.”

The number of students majoring in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) has sharply risen both in Washington and nationally as well, reports The Seattle Times. And consequently liberal arts degrees in subjects like English, history, and philosophy are being skipped over.

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“I wouldn’t be surprised if this a direct response to the recession that we’re overcoming finally,” co-host Tom Tangney remarked. “If you like science, technology, engineering or math, why not major in them because you’ve got a job out there?”

“But the question we all have is: Are people majoring but not really loving those fields, and they’re just doing it for purely economic reasons?”

Washington students bypassing arts for engineering and science degrees

According to data from the Washington Education Research & Data Center, some of the highest enrollment increases went to mechanical engineering (up 132 percent), biochemistry (up 75 percent), and informatics, which nearly doubled its enrollment. Informatics is the science of processing data for storage and retrieval. With a description like that, one clearly wouldn’t have to worry about finding a job.

Both English and history departments meanwhile lost nearly half their enrollment.

“I was talking to my niece the other day, and she told me what she was majoring in, and I bit my tongue,” Curley said. “Because I wanted to say: ‘What are you going to do with that?'”

“I’m sure that enough kids who are starting off in college have heard enough people say, ‘What are you going to do with that?’ Or they have stories of their friends that now have jobs.”

Whatever the case, they’ll now be a little less nervous about hearing that dreaded question.

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