Friday, October 31, 2014

Mariah Halleck - Intern of the Month

Congratulations to Political Science major and History minor Mariah Helleck, who is AU's Intern of the Month for October.  Mariah completed her internship this summer serving with U.S. Senator Rob Portman in Washington D.C. Mariah offers this advice to students considering internships: "Even if it is something you are unsure of, just do it. Being on your own in the real world is a lot different than being alone at college. I think it's a growing and learning experience that every student should take advantage of." 

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Nice Case for Civic Literacy

Joseph Knippenberg of Oglethorpe University makes a good case at the Library of Law and Liberty website for civic literacy based on the idea that if you don't know how to do something, you can't do the thing. The issue is what knowledge is needed to be a self-governing citizen. Surveys suggest that the more people know about their government, how it works, its history, the arguments for and against it, the more likely they are to be engaged and active citizens. And it makes sense, because if you don't understand how our polity works, how can you participate in it?

After discussing one of the surveys which asked various questions about American history and government, Knippenberg writes that "one could question the “relevance” of these factual details for contemporary American civic life. Students might defend themselves by saying that they’ll never “use” this information. Perhaps not. In any case, if they don’t know it, they surely won’t use it, even if they need it. There’s a good argument for their needing it, and it’s this: In general, the more you know, the more active as a citizen you’re likely to be. In other words, the more you know, the more you’re likely to use what you know."

"I often contend that a liberal education is an education befitting a free human being, one who can think for himself or herself and who is as unlikely as possible to be, in effect, a “slave” to an ideology or a gull for a charlatan’s argument. Thinking for oneself, a prerequisite for this kind of human freedom, is no mere technical skill. It isn’t just about having a sharp, logical mind. It requires some content, some familiarity with the kinds of arguments people make and with the facts and narratives on the basis of which they make them. In other words, a liberal education that has as its goal self-government (in our case, “republican self-government”) requires some knowledge of the republic in which our self-governing takes place."

Highest Paying Majors?

Here is a summary of an interesting analysis of Census Bureau data done to find out which college majors earned the most and the least. The result? Median lifetime earnings of bachelor's degree graduates are higher across all majors than median earnings of high school graduates. But of course different degrees earn varying amounts, with engineering, finance, and science at the top end and art, music, and language at the bottom. But what is even more interesting is that "the range of earnings within each major is wide — about as wide as the spread ... in different majors. Put another way, a person at the 90th percentile for childhood education majors (where average earnings are on the low end) will quite handily outearn someone at the 10th percentile of computer engineering majors (where average earnings are at the high end). In fact, at the 90th percentile, people with only a high school degree outearn any college majors at the 10th percentile."

So, the article concludes, the "real message in these data is your college major is not your destiny. It takes some amount of grit to make it anywhere. Smart choices about which skills to acquire will get you some, but not all, of the way there." The article has some nifty charts and graphs. Political science apparently does better than history, and when graduate degrees are taken into account, the median earnings of people with political science degrees is higher than the median earnings of those with architecture or nursing degrees, which puts them just below the top earners comprised of engineers, scientists, construction services, and economists.