September 15, 2019
Majoring in Liberal Arts: The Pros and Cons
Majoring in Liberal Arts: The Pros and ConsSource: The Burgundy Zine
Liberal Arts is a field of study provided at both two year and four year colleges alike that allows students to dabble in a variety of interests through the degree’s heavy reliance on elective credits.
The flexibility of this degree can be alluring to students as they continue to explore themselves and flesh out their passions, but it doesn’t come without its fair share of criticism, either.
Who’s Majoring in Liberal Arts?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 387,000 associate degrees earned in 2016-2017 were in liberal arts, outnumbering any other undergraduate field of study.
Females earned 61 percent of the one million associate degrees issued in 2016-2017 and 84 percent of them majored in liberal arts.
What Can You Do With a Liberal Arts Degree?
Since liberal arts covers a broad range of study, the degree can be applied to a variety of careers. 65.8 percent of liberal arts graduates are employed full-time, while the remainder are working part-time, seeking a job, or not actively looking for a position, the Hamilton Project reports.
11.1 percent of liberal arts majors have become elementary or middle school teachers, 3.7 percent are managers, and 3.2 percent are currently working as first-line supervisors or sales representatives.
Of these three positions, those who are employed as managers earn $84,333 annually, the teachers’ salaries average about $52,708 annually, and first-line supervisors or sales workers are averaging $47,939 annually.
However, the power of a liberal arts degree is most evident in its transferability. Students who transfer into a bachelor’s program with an associate’s degree are more likely to complete the program, according to Hanover Research.
72 percent of students who transfer with an associate’s degree already under their belt complete their bachelor’s degree, compared to the 56 percent who dive into a bachelor’s degree without an associate’s.
Liberal Arts: The Pros and Cons
Liberal Arts: The Pros
Majoring in liberal arts allows you to find yourself while still progressing towards a college degree. Through taking various electives, you can gain experience and a better understanding of an interest to decide whether you could see yourself specializing in that field for a living.
It fosters a well-rounded and balanced education, giving students the opportunity to study the arts, sciences, linguistics, mathematics, and humanities all under one umbrella of a degree.
Again, liberal arts degrees are highly transferable. After testing the waters in STEM and the arts in a variety of courses over two years, students can hone in on those skills at a four year college.
Developing Professional Skills
Although the liberal arts degree doesn’t focus on one profession, it develops skills that are valued by employers in a variety of fields.
Employers value the skills developed while earning a liberal arts degree, Hart Research reports. According to their survey, 74 percent of employers would recommend studying liberal arts to young adults in order to prepare them for today’s global economy. 94 percent of employers say it’s important for colleges to provide this type of education.
82 percent of employers agree that students should take civics classes and learn about international cultures and 32 percent say that students should acquire a broad range of knowledge in liberal arts and science, regardless of their major.
Liberal Arts: The Cons
No Professional Focus
While employers agree that it’s important to be educated in a broad range of subjects, only two percent of business actively recruit liberal arts majors, according to Hanover Research.
That’s not to say you won’t be hired due to only having a liberal arts degree. Rather, employers aren’t going out of their way to seek out liberal arts graduates.
By all means, don’t let your degree hold you back from submitting a job application, as your skills are valuable in the professional realm.
No Job Market Preparation
Many liberal arts graduates have difficulties translating their skills into an application that would align with a job’s requirements.
However, this isn’t necessarily the graduate’s fault, or even the degree’s.
“A liberal arts education doesn’t traditionally include job market preparation,” Hanover Research says. “This can hinder job market entry as liberal arts graduates may be unable to connect their education experiences to job requirements.”
The argument that job market preparation should be offered at colleges, regardless of major, could also be made. This would include developing skills in networking, resume writing, job hunting, interviewing, industry searching, and career research.
A liberal arts degree is a wonderful major for students who are still bouncing between various career options and students who intend to transfer into a four year college.
Although liberal arts majors do find work in many different fields upon graduating, some argue that the lack of a professional focus and job preparation leaves graduates unprepared to enter the working world.
However, many employers do agree the skills developed during the course of a liberal arts degree – particularly in civics and ethics – are valuable in young professionals, regardless of their chosen field of study.
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