It’s easy to stereotype CMCers – we’re all Econ-Gov-IR-Econ majors. Not many small liberal arts colleges have such esteemed economics programs and bro-tank production schemes. But when the jokes about working for Goldman and generic EDM go too far, thinkers like us tend to question — is CMC really so full of Econ majors?
As Professor Keil would say, “Ze way to interpret zis graph is, ‘30.3% of the graduates from the class of 2012 received either a single, dual, or double major in Economics.’ Anyone who thinks these should add up to 100%, GO STAND IN THE CORNER!”
If your first reaction was anything like ours, we thought that seemed low and that Pomona should stop stereotyping us unfairly. There are still plenty of other majors floating around. I guess we just don’t see them at our secret weekly econ. major meetings. [They must be hiding out in the weird empty space inside of Bauer (think about it — circular shape? Please), or that big building that stands between Green Beach and the Scripps pool. (Roberts something?)]
But, as you may notice, a few of the other “Top 15” majors also include “Economics,” such as Economics-Accounting or Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. So if we combine these majors together and look at the change over time, we get the following graph:
These percentages seemed closer to what we expected: Last year, 46% of students had the word “Economics” on their diploma. In 2009, a year we’ve previously recognized for being heavy in finance, accounting, business, and consulting, that number was close to 48%.
As some of you may remember, in September 2007, CMC Alumnus Robert Day “pledged a $200 million personal gift to Claremont McKenna to create the Robert Day Scholars Program. This was the largest recorded gift to a liberal arts institution, the largest gift in the field of finance and economics, and among the top 20 largest gifts ever given to a college or university.” But correlation does not imply causation.
While some argue that the RDS gift has pulled students away from other majors and towards economics, others argue that it has freed up funding that can be used for other departments. But it’s possible that prospective students could have chosen to come to CMC specifically to major in economics because the department had received such a sum. Another factor driving “practical” majors could have been the staggering unemployment, or ubiquity of “cliff” metaphors dominating news on the economy.
If you break up the majors and look at them over time, you still see a jump in Economics majors after 2008:
Even two years after our “proposal,” however, the administration still seems reluctant to formally change the college’s name to the “Kravis Day Trade School for Economists and People Who Want to Study Other Things Good Too.” Rather, the Economics department may be simply ‘too big to fail.’ We won’t draw conclusions as to whether the trend in economics majors is negative because it crowds out other majors, or positive in allowing CMC to specialize — that’s for you to decide.
3/11 – 3:40pm “Top 15 Majors at CMC” Graph was updated so that it displays all 15 most popular majors of 2012.