The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board.
When we enrolled, we had already heard how Murray State is ranked in Forbes Magazine or how the city of Murray is considered one of the friendliest cities in the nation.
What we weren’t prepared to hear, however, is that art majors at Murray State have the lowest net return for the value of their degree in the country.
According to the article in theatlantic.com, out-of-state art majors from Murray State have an average net return of $-197,000 while in-state art majors have an average net return of $-147,000.
The data claimed that these are the lowest numbers for any college in the country.
If the numbers are as candid as the survey shows, a high school graduate will out-earn a Murray State graduate by $200,000 in 20 years.
The daunting results are in direct conflict with the University advertising itself as the best value for a good education.
The fluctuating value of a college degree today has been a topic of national discussion, and there are certain factors that the survey did not take into consideration.
The survey strictly reports numbers, without taking the earning potential of students before they step foot on Murray State’s campus into account.
What is the typical demographic of an art major at Murray State? Did students who graduated with a degree in art get a job related to their major? These are things beyond the consideration of the survey.
The survey also did not include self-employed graduates, which comprise a sizeable group in the art department.
The other question raised is whether the art departments of America are losing their value or just the art department at Murray State.
According to the survey, nine of the 23 worst reported net-return majors were art.
The Atlantic also published an article in September 2012, discussing how liberal arts, as both an institution and a program, is failing American college students. It stated that we should dismiss the idea of a liberal arts degree as a degree of value, and our resources would be better spent teaching effective entrepreneurship classes at public universities instead.
There is a notion that all majors are not created equal.
Students are faced with the decision to either study what they love or study something practical to make a good living or both.
Engineering and accounting are majors that boast promising career outlooks for graduates with high salaries. The investment in college is a question that students face no matter what they decide to major in.
Statistics are published every year about the lifelong value of a degree and whether the earnings of a college graduate make up for the years of debt.
While it is our right to know the projected values of our degrees, no college experience is the same for anyone.
The career path we go on and our financial success is manifested from our decisions, personal performances and ambitions.
To banish all art majors at Murray State to the same fate of hopeless and inevitable debt would be impractical, naive and a sweeping generalization.
The college experience is what you decide to make it, and these inaccurate self-reports should not discourage students to strive for a higher education.