Liberal Arts Catches Up Eventually

Last August I posed the question “Are liberal arts degrees worth it?” and that post has been the most popular of the last two weeks (three months later).  I’m assuming that Liberal Arts majors are the ones reading the post, so to those of you who are, you’ll be happy to hear that I found more information.I didn’t do my research well enough when writing the original post.  I just found an interesting interview with Ed Koc of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).  NACE gathers data from colleges and employers and publishes some very comprehensive reports on the job market, the value of certain degrees over others, popular majors, and other interesting tidbits.  You do have to be a NACE member to get to all of their data, but much of it is found around the Web.

The relevant quote from the interview, which was addressing joblessness in recent graduates:

Most of the liberal arts fields are not doing particularly well. They tend to fall towards the bottom in most years. However, once they get into a career path, some longitudinal studies have shown that these majors do well enough after 10 years that they’ve really caught up to a great extent to the more technical degree majors.

This follows my point about liberal arts degrees being a long-term strategy, rather than a near-term guarantee of employability and wealth.  Technical degrees (computer science, engineering, math and accounting are the top four) have historically been a solid short-term bet.  But it’s nice to hear someone else say that liberal arts degrees catch up.

I’d be interested in a study on people who either build hybrid degrees, or graduate with one degree and internship experience in another area.  For instance, someone who gets a liberal arts degree but has a side business building websites.  Or someone with a math degree who writes children’s books.  Maybe I’ll work on that next . . .

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One response to “Liberal Arts Catches Up Eventually

  1. As someone who has been in the workforce for a number of years, I personally like people who can think and show a breadth of interests and new ways of thinking. If you major in something like Geology or Urban Studies or History – to see the world differently and get new perspectives — you can easily counteract your employablility by getting an internship and showing real world drive. Outside of highly technical fields, I believe that most of what you do at work, you learn on the job and it’s about showing that you will drive to do that.

    I also love the idea of seeing that people in the technical field are multi-dimensional. When I went back to Business School for an MBA, I found that there were a lot of people from traditionally technical fields (engineers, programmers, etc) who were multi-faceted people who were more interested in running businesses.

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