The first comes from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, which found that black students are less likely to pursue lucrative majors than their white peers. According to the report, “African Americans account for only 8 percent of general engineering majors, 7 percent of mathematics majors, and only 5 percent of computer engineering majors.”
But they’re overrepresented in fields that don’t have high salaries: “21 percent in health and medical administrative services, compared to only 6 percent in the higher-earning detailed major of pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences, and administration.”
Finally, it noted, “They are also highly represented in . . . [the low-paying fields of] human services and community organization (20%) and social work (19%).”
“There’s a huge inadequacy here in counseling,” Anthony Carnevale, director of the center and the lead author of the report, told the Atlantic.
This seems pretty unlikely. Who doesn’t realize computer engineers get paid well? The real problem is that too many black students are getting a hopelessly inadequate K-12 education and by the time they get to college, their best bet is to major in a subject whose exams have no wrong answers and whose professors engage in rampant grade inflation.
Carnevale also argues that’s because blacks are concentrated in open-access schools that have fewer choices of majors. But this, too, is questionable. Plenty of open-access universities offer courses and majors in STEM fields.
The implication is that black students at lower-tier universities are actually less likely to graduate in STEM majors than those at higher-tier ones. Which is patently false. Indeed, the historically black colleges and universities, many of which aren’t selective at all, tend to have among the highest rates of graduating STEM majors.
And if you want to get a job in a lucrative STEM field, your chances of completing your degree are much better at a lower-tier school. But here’s the real kicker: A recent survey by the Wall Street Journal found that in “fields like science, technology, engineering and math, it largely doesn’t matter whether students go to a prestigious, expensive school or a low-priced one — expected earnings turn out the same.”
Madison, spending more than $17k per student annually, has added numerous programs (complexity) over the decades. yet, it has long tolerated disastrous reading results.
The full Georgetown report (PDF).