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Cornell Students Not Happy About Culture of “Careerism” on Campus

Cornell Students Not Happy About Culture of “Careerism” on Campus

Some people care about getting a job?

Some Cornell students are unhappy about all those strange people on campus who are using their college experience to prepare for having a future job.

The Cornell Daily Sun reports:

Cornell Students Critique Culture of Careerism

“You’re a classics major? Oh, it’s your money. Well, have fun not having a job.”

These are the comments that Erial Zheng ’18 has grown accustomed to hearing since she switched from a biology major to classics in her sophomore year.

With the emergence of the College of Business and Cornell Tech in New York City, many students say they feel an attitude of careerism is growing among Cornell’s undergraduates. Critics might say Cornell is becoming more vocational, according to Prof. Charles Van Loan, computer science.

Even within the College of Arts and Sciences, the liberal arts college, the two most popular majors — economics and biological sciences — are pre-professional majors, noted Jen Maclaughlin, assistant dean and director for Arts and Sciences career development center.

For a growing number of students at Cornell, the undergraduate experience has become defined by attaining a prestigious career after graduation.


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It might seem absurd to most people that there be concern about such “careerism,” but it is a truly new phenomenon on the Cornell campus. Only a decade ago students really were focused on learning there, and they learned all sorts of subjects (“instruction in any study”). I went to graduation this past spring, and that has changed incredibly. Even traditional majors that were always seen as valuable on job market like, computer science and economics, now offer dumbed-down paths to fancy degrees simply for the sake of good job placement without the strenuous work. One can now study Econ without calculus or any difficult math. There are now multiple CS-type majors in multiple colleges with varying levels of easiness, whereas a decade ago there was only the true CS major in Arts or Eng that required real learning of advanced computer structures and theory. The hard work is now seen as too risky for students scared by a decade-long bad economy and an administration that caters to their desire for no-risk majors that sound impressive.

To you it may seem like those opposing “careerism” are the less prepared or lazy. My guess is they are the ones who are actually learning, while many of the others are coasting through on dumbed-down programs simply for the sake of a job for which they have no special qualification.