April 22, 2010

Letter to the Editor: Bar graph misleading

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To the Editor:

Re: “Cornell Class of 2009 Grads Find Fewer Jobs, Earn Less Than In Previous Years,” News, April 19

I glanced at the cover of Monday’s Daily Sun and was dismayed to see a bar graph entitled “Starting Salary for Cornell Grads by School.” Not only does this chart point out that my fellow architects and I will be getting paid far less than other Cornell graduates next year, but it does so in a graphically irresponsible manner. The problem is that the bottom of the graph has been chopped off without indicating a new baseline value. Believing that the x-axis of the graph is zero, we get the impression that students in AAP earn a mere quarter of what one might earn after graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences, and only 8 percent of the starting salary of engineers!

The fifth-year architecture students are stressing out about theses right now, and this visual affront on our livelihood is unfair. My best friend nearly cried when she looked at the graph and I had to explain to her that the situation is not as bad as it may seem. We can expect to earn about $37,000 next year, which is more than half the starting salary of our rivals in Duffield Hall. And although we are doomed to a low-paying career, it is clear that there will always be a need for our graphic skills.

Timothy Liddell ’10