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Is a Liberal Arts Degree Worth it?

Liberal arts is described as the areas of learning that cultivate general intellectual ability rather than technical or professional skills. Liberal arts is often used as a synonym for humanities, because literature, languages, history, and philosophy are often considered the primary subjects of the liberal arts.

A degree in liberal arts, or attending a liberal arts college is sometimes misunderstood, looked down upon, or viewed as a mistake. Some people think that it doesn’t prepare you for a career, thinking that students should choose a major that will land them a career like business or the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math).  A major where you can make the most money. Some people think that with a liberal arts degree, majoring in humanities, communication, art, or psychology, that you will be deemed unemployable, and it is a better idea to not go to college at all rather than perusing it.

I beg to differ. What about exploring your interests and pursuing your passions and doing what you love? Speaking from personal experience, attending both a large public university then transferring to a smaller private liberal arts college, I enjoyed my experience more at the latter, and I am still employable and currently employed with a great job. I ended up graduating with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Communications and minoring in Creative  Writing.

I am not the only one who feels that a liberal arts degree is well worth every penny. I spoke to Maddy Anderson, who graduated in 2013 and received a BS in Psychology from Eckerd College, a liberal arts college. She now works as the eLearning and Rich Content Specialist at 3M, a global manufacturing company that produces numerous products you come in contact with every day. Here is what she has to say:

At Eckerd I took a variety of different courses – from Pottery to Spanish. Each course I took benefits me in a different way, even if it wasn’t something in my major. By having a liberal arts degree I believe that I am able to look at things in the real world differently. I am able to think outside of the box and I can see many different solutions to a problem.

Specifically, my job (at 3M) involves the Energy, Electronics and Communication market segments. I work to develop, manage and improve training programs within these markets, from video content to entire eUniversities. The training I create helps 3M remain a leader in innovation.

I found that when looking for a job people were interested in finding out more about Eckerd College. I think that my unique stories about a liberal arts college, like travel opportunities and campus life, made me stand out in a group of interviewees. I think that gong to a liberal arts school has allowed me to communicate easier with new people and develop relationships in a work setting. 

While a liberal arts degree may not focus on the law of business or formulas for engineering, it does encourage students to work together, explore new ideas, keep an open mind, form their own opinions, work on their communication skills, to be creative and learn how to problem solve. Are these things not all important for a potential job candidate? I certainly think they are. Someone who can be a part of a team, communicate effectively,  solve difficult business problems and think of new compelling ideas seem like a perfect candidate to me.

The issue here isn’t whether your degree is liberal arts or something else. It all comes down to your experience. Employers are looking for where you’ve had an internship, previously worked or where you’ve volunteered. To me, if you have the experience on lock, your liberal arts degree will only help you, not hurt you.

I also have to ask the question, what makes an education, whether or not one in liberal arts, worth it? Is it simply your employment and salary that proves attending college was money well spent? Certainly I think that is part of it, you must be able to find a job and pursue a career and make money in the process. However, I believe there is more to it than just that. The experience, the friendships, the real world learning, personal growth, all take part in whether or not it is worth it. I think it is something to decide on a personal basis.

An education of any kind is always worth it.



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