Friday, December 16, 2016

Research Blog #10

The Overspecialization of Education

The increasing cost of college tuition is causing the demands of the job market to significantly influence the aim of higher education. Employers are demanding graduates that specialize in a specific set of skills. As a result, enrollment numbers are plummeting for liberal arts programs that have historically provided college students with a broad range of knowledge. There is a limit to the benefits of this trend towards a specialized education. Individual college students that are specialized to an extreme degree will forgo the opportunity to learn a broad range of useful skills. This paper seeks to establish the drawbacks of an overspecialized education by discussing the educational theories of John Dewey, David Meens, and Adam Smith. Going forward, the aim of higher education seems to be trending towards producing a workforce rather than developing well-rounded members of society.

Works Cited
Cappelli, Peter. "Why Focusing Too Narrowly in College Could Backfire." The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, 15 Nov. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.

De, Nikhilesh, Minna Kim, Chloe Dopico, and Nick Huber. "Rutgers Unveils 4-year Plan to Improve School of Arts and Sciences." The Daily Targum. The Daily Targum, 20 Sept. 2016. Web. 09 Dec. 2016.

Dewey, John. "Democracy And Education." (1916): HathiTrust. Web. 9 Dec. 2016.

Malone, TW, RJ Laubacher, and T Johns. "The Age Of Hyperspecialization." Harvard Business Review 89.7-8 (n.d.): 56-+. Social Sciences Citation Index. Web. 9 Dec. 2016.

McCreadie, Karen, and Adam Smith. Adam Smith's The Wealth Of Nations : A Modern-Day Interpretation Of An Economic Classic. Oxford: Infinite Ideas, 2009. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 9 Dec. 2016.

Meens, David E. "Democratic Education Versus Smithian Efficiency: Prospects For A Deweyan Ideal In The 'Neoliberal Age'." Educational Theory 66.1/2 (2016): 211. Publisher Provided Full Text Searching File. Web. 9 Dec. 2016.

Neal, Micki, Carla Fletcher, Melissa Shook, and Jeff Webster. Balancing Passion and Practicality: The Role of Debt and Major on Students' Financial Outcomes. Rep. N.p.: TG Research and Analytical Services, 2012.

Root. "Specialization." Investopedia. N.p., 27 Mar. 2015. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

Smith, Adam, Edwin Cannan, and Max Lerner. An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. New York: The Modern library, 1937.

Williams, Terri. "Enrollment Down at Colleges of Arts and Sciences - GoodCall News." GoodCall News. N.p., 02 July 2015. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

Woodhouse, Kellie. "Colleges of Arts and Sciences Struggle with Deficits as Enrollment Declines." Colleges of Arts and Sciences Struggle with Deficits as Enrollment Declines. Inside Higher Ed, 4 June 2015. Web. 09 Dec. 2016.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Literature Review #5

Image result for the wealth of nations

Citation :
Smith, Adam, Edwin Cannan, and Max Lerner. An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. New York: The Modern library, 1937.

Adam Smith wrote this famous book in 1776, in which he proposed many of his economical theories. One of his most famous theories proposed in the book is his specialization theory. Smith proposed that the division of labor would contribute to exponential economic growth over time. However, Smith did warn that there was a limit to the benefits from specialization. Many of the theories proposed by Adam Smith in this book are still relevant today.

About the Author:
Adam Smith was a Scottish philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. He is best known for this book, The Wealth of Nations,and for his theory of the invisible hand.

Key Terms:
Specialization (division of labor)
The Invisible Hand
Practical Education

“men are much more likely to discover easier methods when the whole attention of their mind is directed towards that single object than when it is dissipated among a great variety of things”

"The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur”

“He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become”

This book is hands down my most valuable source. This book is really the foundation for modern specialization and is written by perhaps the most influential economist in history. Adam Smith's proposed limit to the benefits of specialization provides excellent support for my argument.

Research Blog #9 Argument/Counter Argument


Colleges are focusing their attention more and more on specialized educational programs. This increased specialization in higher education is damaging to individual college students. In fact, too much specialization stifles an individual’s intellectual growth.

A counter-argument would be that specialization is benfitical to college students. In his essay, Democratic Education Versus Smithian Efficiency: Prospects For A Deweyan Ideal In The 'Neoliberal Age, David Meens argues that specialization is beneficital to college students in todays economy.
“The principle that economic efficiency depends upon ever-increasing specialization means that any country pursuing democratic equality goals of universal general education and the equal treatment of students in a shared environment will thereby become less efficient and therefore less competitive” - David Meens

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Research Blog #8 Case

I have found dozens of cases to support my argument. The website "" has been a very useful resource. Below is an excerpt from one of my main cases from 2016:

"I went to college because my high school was a college-prep school. What else was there to do after high school? Go to college. That was my option. I was never informed of other options or careers that didn't need a college degree. I wasn't prepared for a community college to offset some of the cost while I made up my mind. So I ended up a music performance major (because I can be anything I want to be!) and a private 4 year college. Thankfully, I wised up and left before graduation; however, I still have 40,000 in student loan debt... one of these loans is over 20,000 on a private loan with a 8.6% interest rate.

Gina chose her major based on her passion for music performance and incurred thousands of dollars in debt. This is a common theme among Generation Me college students that are unaware of the financial consequences of their choice of major. Rising tuition costs should cause students to carefully choose their major by measuring their projected earnings against their projected debt.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Research Blog #7 Frame

Academic Frame: 

My academic frame is based off of the external and internal factors that influence a student's choice of college major. The main external factor being the job market for a certain degree, which can be measured using different methods of analysis. The main internal factor being self-interests or passions.

While the privatization of higher education continues to increase the cost of college tuition, choosing a practical college major becomes more and more important. In order to prevent themselves from falling victim to student loan debt, Generation Me will need to shake the bad habit of making decisions based solely on personal interest and begin to focus their attention on the external factors when choosing their major. It is important that high schools and universities educate students and allow them to make informed decisions when deciding their future.

The article, "Balancing Passion and Practicality: The Role of Debt and Major on Students' Financial Outcomes", offers a framework for making informed college major decisions. In my paper, I will use their "debt-to-income" tool as an example of how students should be choosing their major based on the job market.  In the article, researchers of higher education in Texas use this tool to measure median income of college degrees against the debt that the average student must accumulate in order to achieve this degree. Using this tool, or a similar method of analysis, could save thousands of college students from falling victim to student loan debt.

Unfortunately, research shows that today's college students, Generation Me, are more likely to make decisions based on their own self-interest. Both the article, "Generation Me: Influences of A Students' College Major Choice", and the book, "Generation Me: Why Today's young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled - And More Miserable Than Ever", will be useful for explaining how today's college students are making decisions.

Research Blog #6 Visual

This is a graphical representation of the results of a survey conducted in 2012 at nine public universities. In the survey, researchers asked roughly 1800 students who influenced two of their biggest decisions: which college to attend and what to major in while attending college. As you can see parental influence was significant in determining which college to attend. When students were asked who influenced their major, the most common answer was,  "myself".  In my mind, what makes these results so compelling is that "myself" was not actually  an option on the survey.  Students who answered "Other" were given an open ended section to specify what they meant. Of the nearly 1800 students surveyed, 488 of them answered "Other" and then answered "Myself."

While the privatization of higher education causes tuition to rapidly increase, one would expect external factors, such as "Career or Earnings Goals", to be more influential in determining a student's college major choice. However, the results of this study suggest that internal factors, such as personal interest, are the most influential factors.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Literature Review #4

Generation Me: Influences of Students' Choice of Major

Citation: George-Jackson, C.E. (2012). Generation Me: Influences of  Students’ Choice of Major. Project STEP-UP. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Summary: This article written by Casey George-Jackson summarizes a study that was conducted in 2010. In the study, George-Jackson surveyed over 1800 undergraduate students in nine large public universities asking them to identify who influenced their college major decisions the most. The article provides the results with data to back up her findings.

Author: Casey George-Jackson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development at the University of Louisville. Her research examines factors impacting participation in the STEM fields, including students’ initial choice of major. She also investigates postsecondary financial awareness and readiness, including the impact of differential tuition policies on underrepresented students and their families.

Key Terms:

major differences by gender - how gender influences a student's choice of major

major differences by race - how race influences a student's choice of major

major difference by class - how class status ( i.e. Freshman) influences a student's choice of major.


"While parents may most influence the decision to attend college, students' choice of major can be influenced by a number of factors, and most prominently by students' own interests and attitudes towards fields of study."(Page 4)

"Of those who answered Myself... 56.6% were female, 42.2% were male and 1.2% did not specify their gender." (Page 3)

"First major: my parents, current major : myself" (Page 4)


This article will provide me with important data to build my case. This study shows that parents and a student's own interests play the most important role in deciding a student's college major. The study was done as recently as 2010