Editorial: A step behind

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Lehigh perpetuates the mindset of constantly yearning to be one step ahead.

As an institution, we aim to be a step ahead of competing colleges through our programs, facilities and technology.

As students, we strive to be one step ahead in learning from the best and brightest and preparing for our future endeavors.

As future employees, we yearn to be one step ahead of one another, competing with fellow students for a limited number of spots in the glamorous world of perceived success.

Upon the common goal of trying to get ahead, a group of students are consistently a step behind.

Every semester, business students and engineers alike fill career fairs to the brim, easily getting lost in a sea of frantic students waving their resumes in the air, praying to stand out among the hundreds that surround them.

Simultaneously, a group of College of Arts and Sciences students watch in defeat as the “all majors inclusive career fair” continues to fail to meet its aforementioned promise.

Consistently, Lehigh boasts student employment at companies such as “The Big Four” consulting firms, or global technology companies, such as IBM and GE.

As networking days for the business school pile up, the number of arts-based tables at career fairs and events are consistently scarce.

There is an evident disparity between the abundance and value of opportunities provided to CAS students as opposed to business and engineering students.

These disparities are especially evident in the job placement statistics following graduation. Within the six months following graduation, CBE students show an 85 percent job placement and engineering students, 73 percent, while CAS students see only 48 percent placement. 

Oftentimes, CAS students seek graduate school as the immediate next step, but there is a proven correlation between the lack of opportunities presented and the lack of jobs filled upon leaving Lehigh.

The issue at hand is not the fault of Lehigh alone. It is the independent nature of professional atmospheres in both business and science fields to groom their future employees throughout the entire college experience. It is a different issue entirely when Lehigh fails to provide a third of its student body with the same opportunities as it does the other two.

College of Arts and Sciences students have continuously proven to be the least lucrative upon graduation. While it is typical of jobs in creative and research fields to pay less, this also relates to the lack of opportunities that are presented to students throughout their time at Lehigh.

The peak time of year for business and research-focused jobs tends to be in the fall, where there are concentrated networking opportunities, career fairs and more. Yet, in the spring, which tends to be the most popular time for arts-centered jobs, the on-campus opportunities are drastically decreased. 

As CAS majors scramble last-minute for the opportunity for an interview, searching for internships to fill breaks and summers becomes more of a gamble than a calculated thought process to best fit career goals.

On average, starting salaries for CAS students leaving Lehigh are anticipated to be a minimum of $20,000 less than graduates from the other two schools. In order to get a foot in the door to more lucrative, long-term opportunities, CAS students arguably prove an even greater need to develop a portfolio of experiences to make themselves more desirable to the job market.

Lehigh’s environment aims to groom its students for the real world, ensuring equal opportunities for all of its students, but CAS students are often forced to question if these opportunities are distributed equally, and in turn if Lehigh has the same desires of success for its liberal arts students as it does its students on the path for more traditional monetary success.

As the Lehigh community continuously strives to get ahead, we must also acknowledge that this goal applies to all students. Until we allocate resources equally and ensure the desire to see all students see success upon leaving Lehigh, a portion of our students will continue to be left a step behind.

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5 Comments

  1. Welcome to the real world where in a capitalist system in which we have prospered, the jobs go to those that prepare themselves best while in college. Generally the Engineers & Business majors take a more demanding curriculum that the Arts & Crafts majors. The business world knows that & seeks those that come from that higher level of discipline.

    If you want to party 5 nights a week by taking gut courses & preparing to become a journalist or sociology professor then don’t whine that Lehigh isn’t doing enough to find you a job. The facts are that the Business community not Lehigh determines who they want to interview.

    You should have gone to a liberal arts college if you didn’t want to adnmire the Engineers & Business majors for having better career options & salaries as you all would be on equal footing.

  2. current student on

    Why allocate resources equally? If someone builds a farm in the Sahara Desert and someone else builds a farm in Florida, should they be given equal budgets? Of course not, as one has almost no chance at success and the other has a much higher chance at success.

    We can apply the same logic to CAS, CBE, and Engineering. When someone chooses Women’s Gender and Sexuality, or Africana Studies, or English, they know what they’re getting into. When I choose Finance, Chemical Engineering, or CSB, I know what I am signing up for.

    Believe me, Lehigh could throw all the resources in the world at business school students and we still wouldn’t have GS, MS, JPM, PWP (ironically), or Evercore recruiting directly from Lehigh by the time I get my first job. These things take time, active alums, and donations. These are not an “increase in opportunities” provided by the school, but more so from those who care about Lehigh and can contribute.

    I’m not about to start paying more or ever donate anything just so we can prop up a failing college at this University. Why would anyone attend Lehigh for anything besides CBE, Engineering, or an interdisciplinary program? Many cheaper schools, easier to get into, with better programs. They should spend 20k, not 70k, a year to make 20k a year.

    These students aren’t struggling to make money because Lehigh doesn’t provide them with a decent education in their field (though it is likely better at a LAC), it is because their field has nothing to go into, hence the lack of opportunities.

    And do these students who get too stressed out to write a few pages on some BS gender studies theory really want to be doing work as difficult as the CBE, IBE, CSB, etc. students? Because if they want those rewards, they better start working a little harder in math, programming, and get ready to have so many interviews, case competitions, and projects that you won’t have the time to be waking up at 12pm and falling asleep at 7pm (yes, I know students who sleep over twice as much as I do and rock nearly perfect GPAs in CAS).

    Buzzfeed and Huff Po can only take so many “writers” – shoula studied something more rigorous and applicable if you want to chase that bread $$$.

    • Robert F Davenport Jr on

      I was not able to read this before my later post. Despite probably irritating several people, much truth in what you write. There is much value in any degree from Lehigh although its true value depends on the graduate. The day may be gone when major corporations can be led by high school graduates but I believe graduates with some degrees that are viewed as “questionable” by some will become corporate heads. The effort required to do so may be made on the back end rather than on the front end.

  3. Robert F Davenport Jr on

    Pet peeve time. When mnemonics are used they should be defined unless they are totally obvious. Unfortunately this may not be found in a style book but I feel journalists should care enough for their readers to do it as a courtesy. IBM and GE are probably exceptions t my rule but that may change for GE in the future.

    That CAS stands for College of Arts and Sciences is fairly obvious and the full name is used before the mnemonic. I would like to see something like: College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). I translated CBE as College of Business and Education but I looked up other possibilities: CBE – College of Business and Economics (various schools) and CBE- Center for Business Ethics (various schools) among over fifty others. My guess is CBE – College of Business and Economics.

    I was a Civil Engineering graduate, what is the current mnemonic for that college?

    I think that if adequate thought was given to the questions posed in the editorial the creators could have come up with and may have actually come up with appropriate answers. My guess is that companies are actively looking for people to hire and are looking for interns in specific areas in order to get a head start on the “best” people. I assume that intern slots are limited and highly competitive. In many cases companies are not looking for liberal arts majors although certain liberal arts students may have desirable attributes or abilities. As an example, I was hired as southern railroads were integrating their management ranks; engineering graduates were preferred but minority graduates with any degree were welcomed but that was for permanent hiring not internships. Although the offer was permanent the position was as a trainee for a significant time period.

    My youngest son’s experience may be informative. He was a recent College of Business (COB) graduate who had several internships of various lengths, one of which about ten weeks long and was paid. The shorter ones were with local entities and were probably organized through the auspices of the business school. The long one was competitive for GE where I have heard that about fifty were accepted of whom three were later offered positions.

  4. “It is a different issue entirely when Lehigh fails to provide a third of its student body with the same opportunities as it does the other two.”

    It is not Lehigh that provides the networking opportunities for the students, it is the companies that pay big bucks to come to campus and subsidize all of the events (workshops, conferences, etc.) with the hope of recruiting Lehigh’s finest to their firms. In addition, many or most of these events are arranged and co-sponsored through student-run clubs and organizations such as Lehigh Consulting Group, Lehigh FinTech Group, Investment Management Group, etc., through the efforts of the students themselves, not the university. Business and engineering are skills that are in high demand, therefore it stands to reason that more money is spent by companies recruiting these students. Also, it should come as no surprise that employment outcomes are determined more by what you study than by the college you attend, since, for now anyway, we live in a capitalist society and the rules of supply and demand still apply.

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