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. Continue reading
I know that’s a loaded question. But someone just asked me how her son should go about finding a job in this market with a liberal arts degree in English. The implication being that young job-seekers in the market today will be hindered if they have such an education. There are biases both for and against liberal arts degrees, so the answer could easily have been “It depends.”
Many people assume that liberal arts grads benefit from breadth of education, not depth. Indeed, most of those schools will argue that exposure to a larger variety of subjects like history, art and religion will imbue the student with a life-long love of learning and the social and historical perspective to understand and improve the world we live in. Mission statements often mention fostering the development of a whole person.
Critics argue that a broad education does not prepare the student for employment following graduation. That without training in a specific area or skill, it’s difficult to demonstrate potential value to an organization. Especially in this economy. When times are tough and hiring slows to a trickle, or stops, employers only look for candidates with demonstrated strength in very specific areas. To use a baseball analogy, they need power hitters, or pitchers, or great defenders. Not utility players. Liberal arts grads are seen as utility players. In a better economy, it’s not as tough.