Amherst College says that "Last year, for the first time since at least 2003, more Amherst seniors who took jobs did so in government or nonprofits than in the private sector," an article on the Bloomberg wire reports. Also commenting on the trend is the president of Harvard:
At Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, undergraduates are relieved that they no longer have to fight the temptation of high-paying Wall Street jobs, President Drew Faust said, in an interview in New York.
Something about that doesn't entirely ring true. It's possible that students are just trying to look at the bright side, or that they have absorbed enough anti-capitalist teaching from their professors that they actually believe it's better if high-paying Wall Street jobs don't exist. But the idea of a bunch of Harvard students running around sighing with relief that they "no longer have to fight the temptation of high-paying Wall Street jobs" is something that might tempt a critic of the Obama administration's economic policies to respond with a jest that Ms. Faust's predecessor as Harvard president, Lawrence Summers, now a top White House economic aide, is doing his best to make sure that undergraduates at Harvard and anywhere else are not tempted by such jobs for a long time. Mr. Summers himself succumbed to the temptation, earning $5.2 million a year for a one-day-a-week job at the D.E. Shaw hedge fund.
Seriously, there's a message being sent by Ms. Faust's comment. It's hard to imagine her reacting to a downturn in the education sector by saying Harvard students are relieved they no longer have to fight the temptation of jobs that offer lifetime job security and summers off. Or a downturn in the medical sector by saying Harvard students are relieved they no longer have to fight the temptation of jobs that offer the psychic income of healing the sick. Are Harvard students -- who in any event now receive much of their financial aid in grants rather than loans precisely to make it easier for them to resist such temptations -- such delicate flowers that they can't stand a little temptation?