kylemittskus wrote:Which is why I think the universities should be the lenders. They're the ones "selling" theater as a major. They'd be pretty quick to eliminate BS majors if they realized that certain programs were more likely to default on loans.
I agree with this. In fact, before the feds became involved during LBJ's Great Society/War on Poverty, most financial aid was from schools and from private individuals/charities that set up scholarship funds. Most were grants, not loans, though there was a moral obligation to contribute, if the recipient was able, at least as much as he or she received in aid, back to the school or fund or to some other form of scholarship. We should get the federal government out of loans completely - including guarantees - and leave it to the institutions and private donors.
tiger7610 wrote:The problem with that is then we are selecting for "useful majors" such as biology, engineering and business. I think that we will end up losing out as a society by reducing our artistic population. That being said people in those majors should be prepared to know how they are going to earn back their money, and should have a backup plan. And I know plenty of theatre majors who are in no danger of defaulting. This is kind of what is happening in medicine where people are being forced to specialize in order to pay off their loans, and thus we have a shortage of primary care physicians and a glut of radiologists for example.
Letting the schools or other private groups determine who gets the funds and how much would alleviate most of this -- if the Actors' Equity wanted to sponsor a theater scholarship, it could, for example. There would still be some scholarships for majors other than pure practical majors, but there would be fewer, and (probably) the courses would be more rigorous.
I think you'd still see a reduction in the number of majors, especially the ones that most people agree don't provide either practical skills or the sort of classical education that made the graduate capable of higher level thinking, but I think enough of those things like various 'ethnic/gender studies' would still find people willing to pay for them they would not disappear entirely. Those sorts of things, and liberal arts majors generally, would just not be the refuges for those whom it hurts to think that they are now.
It is important to remember that the liberal arts curriculum of the century between about 1875 and 1975 was itself a reform - a modernization of the more classically oriented curriculum that developed in Renaissance Italy as more practical (the wisdom of the ancients rediscovered, history, etc.) than the medieval curriculum of the early European universities which centered on theology and scholastic theology. (the law (mostly Roman law) and medicine branches of the medieval university curriculum continued longer, and are more or less reflected with modernization, but not revolution, really, in our modern schools of law (though those in the US are common law, not civil law (except in Louisiana) and medicine)). As an aside, the theology curricula changed mostly during the Reformation - the Protestants of course, but also the Catholic universities through the Counter-Reformation.
University curricula develop over the centuries to meet societies' needs, but they ossify. As they ossify, they cease to meet societies' needs and either they curriculum reforms or the stuff the society needs done is done outside the university. Until the late 19th century, for example, most science was done outside of the university. And, most engineering curricula were not started within traditional colleges, but in separate institutions often known as 'institutes' or 'polytechnic' or the like. West Point was essential an engineering school with military training, as were the Virginia Military Institute and the Citadel, all in the first half of the 19th century, and of course, this was the era that saw the creation of places like Renssaeler Polytechnical Institute. After Civil War, based on the 1862 Morrill Act, many of the various polytechnical institutes emphasizing science, technology and scientific agriculture were founded. Again, all outside of the traditional colleges.