The New York Times reports today on colleges that are trying to make themselves less worthless when it comes to returns on the investment of one's higher education. How're they doing?

Some of the methods described here do not include making their students answer super sexxxy questions like the University of Awesome Chicago, which, while it will certainly not help students unless they're trying to get jobs as copywriters, will definitely ratchet up admissions applications. So good for them! But that doesn't really seem aimed at making a college degree more useful when you get out in the real world, which right now, as it's been noted, they mostly aren't.

The ideas, broken down into quality:

  • Good Idea: Toss Philosophy!"The University of Louisiana, Lafayette, is eliminating its philosophy major." Because philosophy is good and important to know and can help you think about situations that may help you frame the context of something or whatever but to spend the final two years and a near-majority of your studies talking about Kant? Given exceptions, I also wouldn't hire a Philosophy major on principle, because I'm pretty sure they'd be enormous gasbags. Philosophy is best studied on one's own time. When you don't have other assholes around you to make you a bigger asshole.

  • Potentially Decent Idea: Trying to Justify Being An English Major to Potential Employers. There's a class at UT Austin called "The English Major in the Workplace." Hopefully they will teach you to not talk about being an English Major! And also, to express the fact that your ability to articulate shit can far surpass the four other mouthbreathing desk monkey recruits outside your interviewers' door.

  • Potentially Bad Idea: Michigan State is abandoning classical studies. If you have the patience to sit through some of these mind-numbingly boring "classics," you probably have the patience of a cast iron pan, and would probably make an excellent office drone.

  • Potentially Awesome/Awful Idea: Guarantees.
  • THOMAS COLLEGE, a liberal arts school in Maine, advertises itself as Home of the Guaranteed Job! Students who can't find work in their fields within six months of graduation can come back to take classes free, or have the college pay their student loans for a year.

Genius. On one hand, a college can lose a significant amount of scratch this one. On the other, Who doesn't like a good bet? And this is a win-win-win for students. If they get jobs, they get jobs, which, in this case, is actually the least desirable situation possible. Why get a "real" job when you can get a year of your student loans paid off OR have an excuse for arrested development when you come back and take your school up on the free classes they offered! It's like, if it's around, I'll smoke it.

Notably, Times writer Kate Zernike, who obviously went to Smart School, stuck that baby right in the lede. The problem, however, comes down to this:

There's evidence, though, that employers also don't want students specializing too soon. The Association of American Colleges and Universities recently asked employers who hire at least 25 percent of their workforce from two- or four-year colleges what they want institutions to teach. The answers did not suggest a narrow focus. Instead, 89 percent said they wanted more emphasis on "the ability to effectively communicate orally and in writing," 81 percent asked for better "critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills" and 70 percent were looking for "the ability to innovate and be creative.

Employers ostensibly care about college, when in all actuality, they don't really care about college, they're simply looking for good candidates, and they won't know who those candidates are until they get in the door! And if you don't come from an Ivy, you have a worse chance of getting in the door than people who do, unless, like the way 100% of employers who employ people will sometimes hire employees through: your "in." Which you can't work on while you're at college. So college is still basically worthless, and you should start networking the shit out of most jobs now.