With a 7.8 percent unemployment rate and an average $25,000-per-student debt load, one of the first questions college hopefuls should ask when choosing a school is, "Will this institution teach me the skills I need to actually get a job?"
Not all college curricula is created equally, a fact highlighted in a new report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), a D.C.-based higher education policy nonprofit.
In its fourth annual study, "What Will They Learn?," ACTA combed through the curricula at more than 1,000 major institutions to see whether students were required to study seven of the most basic subjects: composition, U.S. government or history, economics, literature, college-level math, science and intermediate-level foreign language.
Institutions were then assigned a letter grade––from A (6-7 courses required) down to F (0-1 courses offered).
As a nation, the results were less than stellar. Just 21 institutions could boast an A score, and most offered fewer than four courses.
While topics like U.S. History and economics might only give a boost to graduates in specific career fields, you would think colleges would be really pushing career-boosting subjects like foreign languages.
About 14 percent of the institutions required an intermediate foreign language course and less than 40 percent required a course in literature. Math was even more lacking, with one in three requiring students to study at the college level.
“This study shows that while students, parents and taxpayers are paying a lot, they’re not getting a lot in return,” Anne D. Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, said in a statement.
Some Ivy Leaguers like Harvard and Yale cost more than $200,000 over a four-year period, yet scored a D by ACTA's calculations.
Among the top 21 performers in Acta's study, standouts included Baylor University (annual tuition: $31,000); the City University of New York (annual tuition: $5,584 in-state); and the University of Georgia (annual tuition: $9,472 in-state).
Luckily, the most popular subject offered, science, is also one of the more lucrative focuses out there. Of the highest-earning college majors released by PayScale last month, more than half required some element of science.
Here's a full list of the top 21:
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