America’s education system seems to be getting more costly as time goes on. These days, it is rare that a student graduates from college without being thousands of dollars in debt. There are many different areas of study that a student can choose from, and each college has its own curriculum. But, even given the rising tuition costs, it is still worthwhile to pursue a liberal arts degree. Students who study in liberal arts schools are open minded and versatile. They are also more attractive to employers for hiring, and are more likely to progress within their careers.
Liberal arts students are also formed to be individualists who beat at their own drum. Although the cost of ding these institutions is rising, the opportunities one will get from this education post-schooling are worth the cost. Although college is meant to boost a person’s intelligence level, it also teaches a person life lessons, such as how to deal with diversity within society. Open mindedness is an important character trait to have in the ever-changing world that we live in these days.
These lessons are not evident in a person’s test scores; they are the intangible values that help contribute to a person’s growth. In “The Liberal Arts Are Dead” by Gerarld L. Lucas, Lucas states that, “College helped me throw away the parochial attitudes that would have been so easy to wrap around myself for safety, like a comfortable blanket. Yes, the blanket is warm and cozy, but it’s trap that separates us from the discomfort necessary for growth” (Lucas, par. 8). This quote from Lucas exemplifies the mind-set of a student who wants to expand his or her horizons.
By pursuing a liberal arts education, this is exactly what a student will be doing as liberal arts schools require their students to take classes outside of their major. Students at a non-liberal arts college can become masters in the area of their choosing; however, this technique does not make them a well-rounded being, those of whom are ready to handle the different types of people they will meet in the real world. From “A Student’s Perspective on the Liberal Arts”, an article from The Huffington Post, a liberal arts student gives her perspective on what she is gaining from her education.
As part of my liberal science education, I’ve had exposure to different cultures, ideas, and perspectives that give me more empathy and a deeper understanding of the people around me. Rather than being sheltered in the sterile scientific world of experiments and data, I have seen the messy, abstract part of life in classes” (Zimmerman, par. 7). This quotation is from someone who has had a direct experience with a liberal arts education. The student, Rebecca Korf, knows that because of the classes she has taken she has more empathy and a deeper understanding of the people around her.
These qualities make her an open-minded person. She attributes these newly acquired characteristics to the exposures she has received in her education. Rebecca’s education has made her able to handle the versatility she will see in society after he leaves school. In “The Liberal Arts Are Dead” Lucas describes being put into an uncomfortable situation at a gay bar. He writes about how uncomfortable he felt being put in a situation in an “alien world”, while he stood alone against a wall with his arms crossed, and how embarrassed he is about his behavior looking back on it.
He even mentions that because of his behavior, the people who invited him to the gay bar never spoke to him again. Lucas was ashamed of his close mindedness and lack of exposure to foreign ideas or people. A liberal education will prepare you for life moments like the one that Lucas faced. One should not put a price tag on learning how to behave properly in society. A liberal arts education teaches students to embrace diversity in society. In an excerpt from the scholarly article “The Landscape of the Liberal Arts”, the author Mark Roche explains the lasting value a liberal arts education has on a person.
As an end in itself, a liberal arts education contrasts strongly with the increasingly common notion of education as primarily a means to an end. A liberal arts education not only asks about higher ends and ultimate values, it is itself its own end. Becoming engaged with a range of disciplines and meaningful questions is an intrinsic good. (Page 6) Roche is explaining how the questions that liberal arts students are encouraged to ask, and made to answer will provide them with higher values. The values that liberal arts students possess are an intrinsic value that only people exposed to this education will have.
These days, employers are looking to hire people who have more to add to their company than just the skill set described in the job description. Although many believe that employers are looking for students who have managed to maintain the highest GPA in college, this is a farce. Employers have stated in studies done by the Association of American Colleges and Universities that students, who have received a diverse education at a liberal arts college, rather than a narrow, straight edge education at other universities, are the favorable candidates for hiring.
Since liberal arts students are more likely to be hired out of college, they will also have more time to grow within their jobs. This will lead to higher pay down the road, which can even out with the loans they may have incurred paying for college. In the article “Liberal Arts Degrees: They Really Do Pay Off” written by Anna Williams, it is mentioned how a person who obtains a degree from a liberal arts school can earn more in their careers. During the peak earning years (56 to 60 years old), American workers with liberal arts degrees actually end up raking in, on average, about $2,000 more than their counterparts. ” (Williams, par. 4). This proves that liberal arts degrees in the work force end up making more than others. Since these people are making more, that signals that they are in higher positions than others. There is more room for a liberal arts educated student to expand and become more successful over the course of the careers they have ahead of them.
Liberal arts students are more susceptible to being hired out of college. According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities 93% of employers surveyed want job candidates who “demonstrate capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems”. All of these qualities are engrained into students during the courses they take at a liberal arts school, as mentioned previously. This shows that an overwhelming majority of employers favor these types of people working at their company.
The scholarly article “Integrative Learning: Making Liberal Education Purposeful, Personal, and Practical” written by Ann Ferren and Chad Anderson highlights a key factor of why liberal arts students are more likely to think critically than others. It states, “Research on the effects of first-year programs indicates not only better academic performance for students but also greater involvement with faculty and campus activities —both of which are important for integrative learning. ” (Page 34). Because of the small size of a liberal arts school, students have access to more resources.
Professors have office hours available for students that allow the student to have one on one time with their professors whenever they please. Students are able to understand what they are learning better because of this factor, which leads them to be able to think critically about what they are learning. Critical thinking allows for students to actually take away something from their education, and is a good quality to have when looking for a job after college. Even though the benefits seem clear cut, some critics continue to argue that a liberal education is not worth the thousands of dollars in tuition a year.
In “In Defense of the Liberal Arts” B. D. McClay summarizes this notion. She states: Conjuring the image of a thousand English majors working behind the counters of a thousand coffee shops, critics of liberal education demand to know what could possibly justify this outcome. Though the most popular major in America is, in fact, business, followed by the social sciences, nursing, education, and psychology-none of which are liberal arts subjects—it’s the useless liberal arts student, underemployed and deep in debt, that comes in for scrutiny.
Par 2) The Liberal Arts do put an emphasis on literature and old Shakespearean readings, and this results in a lot of English majors vying for a bachelor’s degree. There are some examples of people who have not succeeded after receiving a liberal arts education, as B. D. McClay points out in her article. I believe that these people did not put forth the necessary effort that it takes to be successful. I do not think that those who work in jobs, such as a Starbucks barista, are a correct representation of a liberal arts educated person.
A person is going to get out of their education what they want. A person has to actively seek employment and not settle for a job in which they are overqualified. The people who end up working as Starbucks’ barista, in my opinion, have not yet found their niche. Just because they may be working at Starbucks, does not mean that they have failed careers. The idea that a person can do whatever they want when they set their mind to it is ingrained in a person who receives a liberal arts education, but ultimately they will create their own career path after graduation.
Individualists created from a liberal education will do what they want with their life, and not feel the need to fulfill others expectations. A liberal arts educated person may have an edge over others in positions, like a Starbucks barista, that require social interactions with customers because of the exposures they have had in their education. From the article “10 CEO’s Who Prove Your Liberal Arts Degree Isn’t Worthless” by Jack Linshi, Michael Eisner, the former CEO of The Walt Disney Company, expresses the importance of literature.
Eisner received a liberal arts education and says it prepared him to perform well as the CEO of Walt Disney. He states, “’Literature is unbelievably helpful, because no matter what business you are in, you are dealing with interpersonal relationships. It gives you an appreciation of what makes people tick” (Page 1). This shows that even if a liberal arts educated person will still excel better than others, even as a Starbucks barista, which may be viewed as a simple job. This is because these students have been exposed to many different types of readings, which make them understand people better.
Liberal arts educated people do not fret in time of unemployment because of the way they have been taught to view life. We need more individualists in society who are living their lives to please themselves, no matter what others think of them. Kate Wintrol wrote a scholarly article titled “The Intrinsic Value of the Liberal Arts”. In this article she states relates a liberal arts education to an old Grecian story, “Because he had an extensive liberal arts education, Cicero had the ability to create a rich interior life and could draw on this source in his time of turmoil” (Page 132).
Liberal arts educated people do not necessarily need to perform well in their careers, if they choose not to, because they gain happiness from within themselves. The “intangible values” that a person gains while studying within a liberal arts institution can be enough for them. Liberal arts educated people do what they please career wise, but they are the ones who are intrinsically satisfied with their lives. Overall, a liberal arts education should not be frowned upon just because of its price tag.
There is a reason why a liberal arts education is costly. It is prestigious. Each student has strengths and weaknesses, but if a school can make those strengths and weaknesses less evident, then the product is a well-rounded person. Open mindedness is not a quality that everyone in the workforce has, and that is what makes liberal arts students unique. Versatility is an important factor to have when succeeding in a career. Having qualities that not many others searching for a job have, will benefit these liberal arts students in the long run.