Site Ranks BC’s ROI For English, Humanities
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 3, 2013 02:10
Are you considering a major in English? According to a new survey published by Affordable Colleges Online, Boston College is one of the best universities in the country for English majors in return on investment.
BC’s English program was ranked sixth in the survey, which used data from PayScale.com’s “2013 College Education ROI Rankings.” The schools that ranked in the top five were Harvard; the University of Pennsylvania; University of California, Berkley; James Madison University; and California Polytechnic State University.
Return on investment (ROI) is a measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment. In this survey, “the ROI represents a net return on investment after the opportunity cost and cost of investment have been taken into account,” according to the website.
The opportunity cost is the potential income that would have been earned had the student worked for four years after high school instead of attending college. This is based on the median pay for a high school graduate.
PayScale calculated the ROI based on data collected from graduates who completed the website’s employee survey. The data only includes employees who possess a bachelor’s degree, are employed full-time, and who receive an hourly wage or annual salary.
“We calculate the current 30-year median pay for a bachelor’s graduate of 2012 from a specific school by summing up the median pay for bachelor graduates who graduate between 1983 and 2012 from that school,” the website stated.
The median ROI was then calculated by subtracting the cost of the investment and opportunity cost from the 30-year median pay.
Thus, the 30-year ROI for a BC English major was $803,600, which accounts for an estimated $218,900 cost of investment (i.e. tuition and fees, room and board, and books).
Professor Suzanne Matson, the chair of the English department, viewed the ranking as a testament to the department’s success in preparing students to contribute positively to the workforce.
“[English] develops a potential employee who is intellectually flexible, can think on his or her feet, and can analyze complex problems,” she said.
Courses like Studies in Poetry and Studies in Narrative train the department’s 600-plus majors to become literate and critical thinkers, skills that Matson believes are crucial to the success of employees in any field.
“The English major can be highly individualized,” Matson said. “There is a lot of room to move within the requirements.”
According to Matson, the major allows students to explore their own interests across academic disciplines. “Studying literature brings interdisciplinary approaches together,” she said. “Through texts we explore social, cultural, historical, philosophical, and aesthetic questions.”
Last fall, Matson received an email from someone in the human resources department of a financial services company. “[She] was specifically looking for English majors because her applicant pool wasn’t producing skilled enough writers,” Matson said.
She believes that employers demand employees who can communicate, think at high levels, and write well.
In 2008, Matson spoke about the importance of an English major at a forum for potential BC students. She told them, “In our changing times, when the career options available to new graduates are unpredictable, and people’s paths are apt to veer one way and then another during their working lifetimes, the English major is among the most practical of foundations.”
Matson believes the University’s new minor in Medical Humanities stresses the interdisciplinary nature of English. Associate professor of English Amy Boesky is the minor’s director.
The program’s website reads: “Students explore health and health-care practices through multiple disciplines, including literature, theology, history, and philosophy, as well as natural and social sciences. From each vantage, humanistic and cultural approaches to medicine and the body are emphasized.”
“[English] gives people the foundation to work in a variety of environments … with an analytical and critically conscious mind,” Matson said, and Affordable Colleges Online agrees.
The website reads, “Many graduates of English and humanities disciplines use the foundations of research, data analysis, argumentation (written and verbal), and communication to springboard into any number of professions, including law, business, journalism, and digital media, among others.”
Matson said that the individualized nature of the major along with the foundation it creates prepares students well for a variety of jobs.
“[English] gives [students] the foundation to work in a variety of environments … with an analytical and critically conscious mind,” she said. “An English major can gain a competitive edge coming out with superior writing skills.”