Colleges Defend the Humanities Despite High Costs, Dim Job Prospects

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by jeffisjeff, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

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    I think there is a lot to be said about your experience PRlady. I do think that although it may not be obvious, the skills one learns in whatever field of study can certainly carry over to a field that may not seem at all similar to what one studied on its face.
     
  2. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    Sadly, I haven't found that to be the case. I did try it though. My youngest son now reads voraciously, but his writing still sucks. But reading for pleasure and being able to compose eloquently are very different skill sets, so it's not surprising.

    I'll also say that I've found most people to believe they write much better than they do :shuffle:. I'm a professor and have published, and have even won writing awards. But I wouldn't call myself a good writer because I'm really not. There are very few I think who can actually write really well. It's a wonderful skill set if one has it. I just aim for basic competency :).

    Oh, and I do think you can teach someone to be a good writer. I also think entrepreneurship is teachable as well. These skills will come easier to some than others, but it can all be taught IMO.
     
  3. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    Oh I agree everything ultimately can be taught. But some students will have to work A LOT harder and longer at it to get the same results. ;) Which is why so many people speak of talent. But talent IMO is a combination of interest and natural ability. Mostly interest. :lol: I'm an introvert, so it would be more difficult for me to hustle and be an entrepreneur. Wouldn't be impossible, but I'd need to practice and find a good rhythm and balance so I wouldn't burn myself out.

    My piano teacher in high school also taught voice. (She majored in both at Juilliard.) One of her best students, an older woman, reportedly could barely sing a note when she first started. It took years and years, but she became a wonderful singer.
     
  4. snoopy

    snoopy Team St. Petersburg

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    ITA. My SO and I have this debate a lot. He is of the opinion anyone can fix any flaw and do anything, if they just apply themselves. While I think that is true in the main, some things are going to require a much bigger energy expenditure for some people than others. And IMO, in some cases, it will require such a level of energy that it makes that improvement or change impractical.
     
  5. Prancer

    Prancer Jawwalking Staff Member

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    I always held to the idea that good writers were devoted readers until I had been teaching a while and came across good writers who never opened books and voracious readers who couldn't construct sentences.

    I still think that for most people, the relationship is there, but it's certainly not a given.

    I agree. To write well, you have to want to write well, because writing well requires craft and diligence and a certain obsessiveness.

    So I think you can teach most willing people to write adequately and I think you can teach people who are willing to work at it to hone adequacy into something better, but the key to all it is the willingness of the student to learn, as is true of everything that is "taught."

    That which is not valued cannot be taught, including good writing, unless force is involved--and force does not produce excellence in most.
     
  6. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    Exactly.

    My music teacher also taught an 8-year-old (I don't remember how exactly old she was, she might have been younger) who could sing opera off anybody's pants. So yes, she was just as good as the older student, but it took her A LOT less time to get to the same level. :lol: Plus she had parents who recognized her natural ability very early on. The young girl could make opera singing a career, while it was probably too late for the 50-year-old. But it doesn't mean that the older lady couldn't sing opera. She could. It's a matter of whether you can be good enough fast enough to make it a viable career. As you said, whether the energy required justifies what you get out of it.

    Natural ability + interest = talent that is likely to lead to a career. Interest - natural ability = hobby. Natural ability - interest = going nowhere fast. Maybe a good party trick. :lol:
     
  7. DAngel

    DAngel Active Member

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    I think you can be given direction to develop that ability... With practice, you can develop your senses and be pretty good at it. People say that imagination/inspiration can't be taught, but I think even that can be developed and refined.

    I agree with all these. When people say things like "writing can't be taught", I wonder if they really meant success or greatness... Because you can definitely learn to be very good at something, but success/greatness is a different story. And really, while geniuses exists, they are few and far between. They are also very obsessive in their craft. (scientist like Newton and Einstein and the old masters like Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael come to mind)
     
  8. sailornyanko

    sailornyanko New Member

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    With private liberal arts schools accruing 100,000 USD debt for their students who end up in bankruptcy because their min wage jobs can't cut the cheese, perhaps they ought to start getting worried that their general studies degrees just aren't marketable to the average middle class college student needing a job when they graduate. Perhaps remodeling for an 8th time the student lounge room with 3D 90 inch plasma tv screens isn't necessary to get students a job after all!

    Not against liberal arts degrees (I did a hard science degree though), but General Studies degrees costing 100,000 USD is ridiculous. Schools should offer marketable classes in these degrees like business, journalism or teaching skills so that their graduates can become foreign language teachers or work in an office doing graphic design related jobs or other marketable skills. Several schools have already gotten rid of women's studies departments from lack of students, either universities evolve or they will have to reduce classes and department sizes or risk going out of business.
     
  9. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Do you think anyone can just take a few courses and do that? This is a pervasive problem in the US, no appreciation for the arts and how difficult they are.
     
  10. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    The fields you mention aren't necessarily "marketable skills". For example, there are very few jobs available in journalism or graphic design. Most students who enter those fields freelance at first, or work part-time without benefits.

    The degreed fields that are in demand in the US right now include petroleum engineer, computer science, software engineering, mining & mineral engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering, actuarial science, pharmacology, and geological engineering. Some of those majors have nearly 100% employment. However, they're obviously not a fit for everyone. All are highly math-oriented.
     
  11. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    I'm hoping to switch careers to graphic design, but I know how to code. Most graphic designers do not (they don't teach it at schools usually, you have to teach yourself), and I've already heard jokes about how the ones who know how to code are going to be the ones employed. :eek: So, woohoo?

    And yeah, engineering is definitely not a great fit for everyone. My coworker is studying for the MCAT, and she's dedicated 1.5 months to just physics. Some of the stuff she's doing, I have not seen in about 10 years, and I would rather shoot myself than study it again. (Keep in mind we're both hard science majors.) Alf however, he thinks it's the most natural thing in the world. That's why he gets paid the big bucks, because nobody else wants to do it. :lol:
     
  12. DAngel

    DAngel Active Member

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    Are you talking about web design? Otherwise, I'm not sure what graphic design have to do with coding...
     
  13. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah. Design schools don't have different departments for "web design" and "print design," it's all under "graphic design" and then you can be print or web. Print is obviously the go-to at schools because it's how you learn the basics.

    From what I've heard from many graphic designers, most of the work is in web now, not print.
     
  14. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    But, you still have to have the design skills. Page design, is page design. Yes, web pages are more technically challenging, because they are interactive. But, you need to have an understanding of balance, eye direction, etc.
     
  15. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    Oh of course. I never said otherwise. But in addition to all those skills, if you know how to code, that gets you in front of the line nowadays.
     
  16. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I can see that. I wouldn't know where to start, creating a website.

    There is a part of me that mourns the old days when graphic design was strictly art. Ink jet/laser type was just not acceptable. Type was done photographically. The resolution was incredible. Photos were retouched on 8" X 10" (or larger) chromes, by airbrush artists. What they were able to do was amazing. There is an element of touch and feel that is missing in computer generated "art". Though, I have had to conform. I am relatively good in Illustrator. Hate InDesign! Hate text boxes! I don't think anyone from my generation can relate to them :lol:. And I am sure that there are many, like you, who are good at both design and coding. I have seen far too many "graphic designers" who know how to use a computer, but know nothing about page design, color, balance, font choices, spacing, kerning, vertical spacing.

    We just finished my daughter's save the date cards. The photographer did them. The photographer, himself is excellent. But their designer....:yikes:! Even the retouching was poor. I had them send me the raw photo and I did it myself. Can you imagine that they didn't even take out a tag that was hanging down from my daughter's fiance's shirt? White against blue denim - hard to miss! The font choice was too delicate for the photo, and because it was supered, you couldn't read it.
     
  17. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    :lol: Yeah I don't do stuff by hand, although it is enjoyable when I do sit down and do it. It's just that it takes so much time, and everybody wants stuff done yesterday!

    I'm doing freelance print design work for a wedding venue. Not mine, a local one which is more traditional. I do things he doesn't ask me to, like Photoshopping out photographer's assistants and extra lighting setups in an otherwise awesome shot. :p I charge by the hour and he hasn't complained yet!

    I even had to add the tilde in "quinceaƱera," because if the ad is going to go in the Latin Bride and Groom magazine, it had better be spelled right! :rofl: People sometimes think graphic designers are just Photoshop monkeys, but you really do have to know a lot of general things to be good at it.

    I'm not an expert in type, but :yikes: on supered type on a save-the-date card! Are you going to do the invites yourself? It would drive me crazy if someone else did them and they were bad!
     
  18. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    I will have the invites done. But, will choose the font, the sizes and bolding, the word break, the type justification, the card stock. There will be no photo on the invite. The thank you notes will come from the photographer, so those I will do. I will also stay on top of the book layout. I will do the menus for the wedding tables, if I can find a nice card stock. Michaels has some nice paper, but most of it is 8" x 10". I'd rather use an 8.5" x 11' and do two up.

    I don't necessarily have an issue with supered type, though my final design did not have it that way. It was more that the photo was take outside in January, in a rustic location. The type was very delicate, didn't go with the feel of the photo and was too light on a busy background. Had they chosen a heavier, more appropriate type, it could have worked. I also would have done a tinted strip behind the type, to give it more definition. What I did was use 2/3 of the card (right side) for the photo, then put a royal blue background on the rest of the card. Did the type in white, on the left side, justified right (along the photo), with a drop shadow and did a filigree border on the far left side that mimicked the filigree on my daughter's engagement ring. Then another 2 pt. white rule border, set 1/8" into the photo.

    I have an amusing "by hand" story. 15 years ago (or so), when I got my first computer (a Mac tower!). I decided I needed to take some computer graphic classes, just to learn how to use a computer. So, I did. The teacher had no real experience in art direction (I was an AD for a big NYC Ad agency), but she knew the computer. This was a computer graphics class. One day I was bringing a logo design I had done for our skating club, to the printer. I put it in my book and brought it in with me, because it was hot out and I didn't want to leave a mechanical in the car. Back then we did mechanicals with rubber cement, which softens in the heat. A few of the students were asking if they could see what was in the book. so, I said okay. They were looking at some of the line drawings I had in there and they asked how I did them. I said freehand. There used to be a drawing program called Freehand (Aldus, I thinK). They asked how I got the line weight differentiation in Freehand. I said, no, not the program I drew it freehand with a rapidograph. They were stunned! Two of them looked at me and said "You can draw?" I looked at them and said "You can't?" It never occurred to me that a graphics/art major would not be able to draw. I have a BFA, I painted, drew, sculpted, etc. I had color theory from professors who studied with Joseph Albers.
     
  19. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    I got my cover stock from Kelly Paper and had my printers use that. :) Michaels probably wouldn't have enough stock of anything, whereas I bought a ream of Howard Linen and printed EVERYTHING from it.

    LOL, it's actually an ongoing joke at Art Center that graphic designers don't know how to draw. :shuffle: It's the illustration majors that do.
     
  20. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but I was a fine arts major back in the early '70s. There were no computers. There was no point in being an art major if you couldn't draw/paint/sculpt. I did minor in marketing, simply because I knew I wanted to eat after I graduated. knew I didn't want to paint or illustrate for a living. Though I did a lot of illustration for layouts/story boards for client presentation.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2013
  21. DAngel

    DAngel Active Member

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    :rofl::rofl: Thanks for sharing your story Cruisin :)


    It's kinda true though, isn't it? :shuffle:
     
  22. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

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    The graphic design program at my college (Kent State) was set up so that students didn't touch a computer until they were juniors, at least when I was there in 98-02. They had a separate major for illustration. I was a minor student in graphic design — called visual communication design — and majored in journalism information design, so I only took about a third of their classes. I wish I'd done their 5-year BFA/MFA program, but instead I was journalism track and got a BS.

    We had to do many projects by hand. In my typography class, we drew the letters a O H in five different fonts. :yikes: They gave us pre-printed type and we had to cut it out and assemble it on a page with studio tac, use t-squares and blue line markers to align everything, then photocopy it to assemble a final book. It was hard. I don't think I would've gone into design if it wasn't computer-based. Typography almost made me quit the minor (didn't help that it was a 7:45 class) but I learned the most from it by far.

    Actually, I wish I would've stuck with coding ... I remember liking BASIC and taught myself HTML in high school (1994-98) and I would've been much more employable in that field. But the field was too new to have a web design program in schools, and the one computer science class I took was so confusing to me that I withdrew from it. I took one class for my minor that was a both design and programming, but it matched designers with CS majors to program the pretty sites :lol: they taught a bit of ASP and Perl and :confused: :confused: :confused: ... wasn't meant to be, unfortunately for my career track!
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2013
  23. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    That was the stuff I loved! Loved the color and design projects - creating a Bezold triangle and other optical illusions, with Color Aid paper. All mechanicals were done with blue lines, back in the day. They were all black & white with photostats (to size) of the art (illustration/photo) in position. There would be a tracing paper overlay with color specs written on it. If areas needed specific PMS colors and were outlined, you cut ruby or amber liths (trapped in the line). The printer assembled all of the elements in a negative. Then you were sent color proofs. These were a set of clear overlays of process colors printed individually - a magenta/cyan/yellow/black overlay. You could then have them adjust the color by intensifying or lessening a specific color. those were the days - sigh!
     
  24. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    I've never done ANY of that, although it sounds fun! At least I have drawn fonts by hand. Still not terrific at them, need more practice. :p
     
  25. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    It was more "hands on". I really wanted to be an architect, but back then - women just didn't do that :(. Then life got in the way.

    I love t-squares, circle and oval templates. I still have lots of them. All of my templates have tiny bits of masking tape on the underside. So that the template edge doesn't sit on the paper. When using a Rapidograph (non-clogging India ink), the surface tension created by the contact would smear the ink. Masking tape lifts the edges up. The challenge of doing a box with rounded edges - doing the lines and connecting them with 1/4 circles and not seeing any distortion. Very steady hands! :lol:

    When we did outline type with a color inside, we had to cut amber lithes, by tracing the type with an x-acto knife, and peeling away the film that was outside the type. I don't think I ever used a scissor, when I was working. Used an x-acto for everything.
     
  26. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    Cruisin, you're going to LOVE this video! John Mayer seeks out a traditional sign-writer and glass gilder in the UK, David Adrian Smith, for his new album cover! He works by hand and the pencil sketches are so jaw-droppingly gorgeous! :swoon:

    It brought tears to my eyes. The world ain't so bad if there are guys out there like him working so diligently (and BY HAND) to make such beautiful things. :)

    http://youtu.be/XdfreJmK9R4
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2013
  27. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    I think it was encouraged by the supportive families and friends of students who loved philosophy and history. Philosophy in particular is very esoteric and someone who has a passion for it and an understanding of the language it entails will very likely get a doctorate degree and seek out teaching positions or the few others jobs that philosophers can do. It's not that different from a love of any purely academic subject. My brother was a mathematician and mathematics professor. Nothing that he studied had any real application prior to the computer age, but he knew by the age of 19 that math would be his life. His field was topology (sets and sub-sets) and he has a picture on his wall of a line with two dots. It represents years of study for him, although no one understands why, and he feels his life was well-lived and his work satisfying. I'm sure it was easier for him studying in the 60s and 70s, when education costs were so much lower and scholarships easier to get. But scholarships are still out there and those with an academic passion can find a way to pursue it.

    It's a different thing to just get an undergraduate degree in history or some other social science because one doesn't know what else to do with oneself. Undergraduate degrees in almost anything aren't worth much these days, post-graduate work is often required to compete effectively in the marketplace.

    And would-be teachers often study the social sciences. A friend's daughter majored in history and somehow got through despite being a terrible writer. She's gone on to get an education degree and just got her first teaching job at an international school.
     
  28. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Amazing! Incredible to see an artist, of that calibre, at work! I used to do a lot of silk screening and etching - loved it! Been a long time since I did that. I did etching on metal plates, so it was a different technique.
     
  29. PRlady

    PRlady Smoking

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    In the really old days, the fascinating stuff cruisin and vesperholly and anita describe above would never have been taught in a college. Even BFAs/MFAs are relatively new. A college education meant the classics, literature, history, philosophy, maybe a modern foreign language. No social sciences, until economics made the Oxford curriculum in the late 19th century. Possibly botany and human physiology, two of the earlier sciences taught in that context.

    Everything else was a trade. Even now I think majoring in graphic design or communications is -- pardon me -- too narrow for the kind of grounding one should have in the broader culture. Even though those majors are actually employable, and I was not.

    Obviously I am a relic and an impractical one at that, but I would probably go back to insisting that American students, and anyone else whose native language is English, study Greek and/or Latin for two years to qualify for a BA.
     
  30. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    My BS did not require a foreign language at all; but I have 6 years of Latin from Middle School and High School. I bet my SAT score got a boost from it (but maybe not, because I used to be a voracious reader.) As much fun as it was to translate the Aeneid, I really wish I had taken Spanish.