What does liberal mean?
You’ve probably heard the term “liberal arts” tossed around in the media lately. Politicians have tossed the term around, too. In fact, over the past several years there’s been an ongoing conversation in the United States about the value of a liberal arts education. Is a liberal arts education still valuable in today’s society? Can students who major in the liberal arts really get a job?
In this post, we’ll take a look at what the liberal arts are all about, and what it means for you when choosing a college and a major.
What are the liberal arts? The liberal arts are the foundation of education at most four-year colleges and universities in the United States. The liberal arts expose you to a breadth of subjects (such as English, history, philosophy and social sciences). A liberal arts education doesn’t just focus on preparing you for a single job or career. Instead, it helps you develop important skills that are transferable to any job or career you may have.
What skills do liberal arts colleges teach students? Students at liberal arts colleges and universities develop critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills. Students also acquire a broad knowledge of the liberal arts and sciences, which can help students understand the context of situations they encounter in life and in the workplace. In addition, liberal arts students often gain intercultural skills and learn about exercising ethical judgment and integrity.
A recent report by the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AACU) found that 93 percent of employers say that “a demonstrated capacity to think critically, community clearly and solve complex problems is more important that a [candidate’s] undergraduate major.”
Do liberal arts graduates really get jobs and make money? In any major you choose, it’s important to gain experiences throughout college that will make you more desirable by employers, such as participating in internships and taking on leadership positions in campus organizations. Those experiences, along with your college degree, will help you land a job when you graduate.
In addition, the recent AACU report found that people who majored in the humanities or social sciences actually make an average of $2, 000 more per year during their peak earning years than their peers who majored in professional or pre-professional fields.
How can a liberal arts education benefit you? Today’s job market is changing rapidly. In fact, many jobs that exist when you start college may not exist by the time you graduate. In addition, jobs that don’t exist today may be created by the time you graduate.
The skills you learn through a liberal arts education are transferable to nearly any industry, and to any job you may have in your lifetime—even jobs that don’t exist yet. In addition, a liberal arts education teaches you how to learn, so you can be a lifelong learner and get up to speed quickly in any job you have.
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