40k is overly optimistic for a liberal arts major, not just ITE, but pre-recession as well. I went to a t-20 university and the career center's statistics reported, before the recession, that liberal arts majors on average made 20-30k. The average starting salary for a history major was in the early 20k. Engineers on the other hand made 70k+ starting while business/economics majors made on average 55k starting. The lack of demand for liberal arts majors really just shows how completely useless the degree is, but it should be expected since you don't learn anything useful. Maybe people will start responding to demand and major in real subjects, but I doubt it, not until it is too late anyway. I just hope the JD doesn't head in the same direction as the BA.
1. My experience differs from 'economics = 55k starting' and 'engineering = 70k starting'. I have a BA in Econ, earned 40k at my first job. My g/f has BS in EE, is making just over 40k right now. Many people on TLS have had better experiences but I just wanted to point out that it is not a foregone conclusion that these degrees = big bucks.
2. Re: bolded part. Lib Arts ARE useless. But hoping for people to stop doing them is kind of the same as hoping for more people to get JDs. If you push them all the libarts lemmings into business/engineering/nursing, etc., then those jobs suddenly become less lucrative as well.
1) I was emphasizing the vast difference b/w econ/business/engineering majors and liberal arts majors, even at top 20 undergrads, and noting that someone with a liberal arts degree from a top 20 undergrad can't get a remotely decent paying job. I'm sure that there are comparable differences at lower-ranked institutions. I was not saying that "these" degrees are necessarily objectively "money-making" on their own, but that they are comparably far more lucrative. Also, it is probably harder for someone who went to a worse undergrad to start out at making 55k with an economics/business degree. On average people at my school placed into firms like Lehman Brothers (lol), Deloitte, Ernst Young, and Pricewaterhouse because they recruited a lot of students there.
2) There is an excess demand for science majors right now, i.e. nursing, engineering, etc. (Business is obviously on a downturn like law at the moment.) We have enough excess supply of liberal arts majors relative to demand and excess demand for science majors relative to supply to allow for a shift to the latter fields without decreasing market salary all that much, at least until we hit what is pareto optimal.
It can also be contended that the fact that there is a HUGE excess supply of JDs relative to demand, that it is definitely more optimal for the rational individual--while providing for a more socially optimal outcome--to pursue a science degree than to pursue a JD. Also, liberal arts majors tend to work jobs that require no particular skill sets, jobs that any other major can properly perform, and perhaps more productively. You are right that if the supply of science majors increases, market salaries will decrease; but at the same time perhaps you can get a pareto superior outcome if people start pursuing science while knowing that there will stratifications among those w/ different skill sets. For example, the best scientists will get the best jobs, while those with lower skill sets will end up with jobs previously allocated for liberal arts majors. While the average salary for scientists will be lower because some will have to look outside of the field, perhaps their increased productivity at jobs previously allocated for liberal arts majors will make them better off salary-wise because of an actual shift in the PPC than if they started off as liberal arts majors in the first place. This is just supposition though, but I do think that it is probably better for the rational individual and society to have an excess supply of science majors relative to the number of science jobs available rather than having an excess supply of liberal arts majors. This is because the other jobs that liberal arts majors take do not, in general, require any particular skill set, and I think that the training real majors provide can make you more effective in any job you undertake.