The Monday Muse: On Liberal Arts

Haaaaaappy Monday, readers! It’s time once again for our weekly, uncensored, inner monologue. Today, let’s examine the continued importance of a liberal arts education in a world obsessed with vocational skills and career-specific degrees.

As of late there seems to be a massive push in the education system. A push that is shepherding students toward STEM degrees (science, technology, engineering, math). There’s no arguing that these are growing fields that offer plenty of employment opportunities to students who can excel in those areas, but it seems like educators are trying to shove everyone into an area that remains an enigma for many. The techno/science industry is growing (as are the number of jobs), but that doesn’t necessarily mean we should flood the job market with an overflow of STEM graduates.

The problem is that pursuing a degree in liberal arts has recently gotten a lot of undeserved flack for being useless fluff.

It is not useless fluff. Society seems to have decided that philosophy, sociology, literature, etc. are useless because they are not directly translatable to specific kinds of work. However, these fields cultivate exactly the sorts of skills that are universally necessary. It may not lead students on direct paths toward ultra-specific careers, but the study of liberal arts produces well-rounded intellectuals. These individuals are capable of fusing knowledge and creativity, often with the opportunity to explore several fields of work while discovering practical applications of their studies. Though their path may not be hyper-specialized, liberal arts students are able to translate their work in different job markets with ease.

Many companies actively seek out talent with individual and critical thinking skills (both traits of a liberal arts student). Not to mention communication skills, comprehension skills, language skills, and job transference skills… According to an article on usnews.com (link posted below) “the return on investment may be less obvious, but hiring managers seek liberal arts-related skills”.

Also, being that liberal arts institutions are generally smaller, they provide more bang for the buck with smaller class sizes and a less distracting learning environment. Many are private institutions and even the smallest programs have shown their strength through powerful alumni. Recently, the liberal arts program at Sweet Briar College faced closure due to misappropriated funds and a vastly misguided board of directors. The small but mighty army of alumnae took it upon themselves to save the school, calling upon their collective areas of expertise to build the #savingsweetbriar empire which recently celebrated victory when it took possession of the keys to the school.

So, yeah, liberal arts, man… Don’t underestimate the power of knowledge. So many paths veer off the course of a degree in liberal arts and it’s important to give it its due. And seriously, don’t be pushed around by advisors or educators that try to convince you that your studies should only take you on the path to your career. It’s not for everyone. So study what you love and make the most of it.
See you next week, Cactus friends!

A

http://www.usnews.com/news/college-of-tomorrow/articles/2014/09/22/there-is-value-in-liberal-arts-education-employers-say

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