Degrees for liberal arts to be filled liberally
If you have been paying any attention to the national debate over the state of the post-college job market, you’ve likely heard that majoring in the liberal arts is a poor choice.
Don’t let the rhetoric work you into an existential funk. The broad area of study your liberal arts major has given you has actually left you qualified for many jobs — jobs that don’t require you to stand behind a register.
When you receive your diploma, resist the urge to turn it into stationary for thank you notes. Your diploma’s potential for getting you a job far outweighs its crafting potential, so save your subversive decoupaging and coaster-making for another medium.
People have always questioned the practicality of a liberal arts degree. The problem is that many people fail to recognize the benefits of the education. Liberal arts majors often have coursework that spans several academic disciplines.
Some people would argue that liberal arts majors end up learning a lot about little, and that this leaves them unqualified for many jobs. However, the exact opposite is true. The broad area of study afforded to liberal arts majors allows them to see the big picture. This is a skill that will help them in any work environment.
When tasked with finding the solution to a difficult problem, the liberal arts students’ analytical skills kick in and they start collecting the information they have gleaned from other academic disciplines. By the time they have found the solution, the non-liberal arts major is still on Wikipedia frantically researching social dynamics, or in a checkout line with a version of Rosetta Stone.
Furthermore, liberal arts degrees are good for our culture. We are going to need an army of liberal arts professionals to make sense of the recession, just like we need artists to encourage and pleasure us.
However, with the for sale signs popping up in front of many liberal arts department buildings it’s time for a little departmental self-evaluation.
Liberal arts departments need to tailor the curriculum to better meet the needs of today’s job market. Many of us will find ourselves working as free-lancers until we are able to find a stable job.
Professors need to realize that if such instruction isn’t given, students will start leaving for other departments. The pressure from parents to “find a good job” will be too great for some, and they’ll cave to popular sentiment. If this occurs it will be a great loss for liberal arts departments.
Daniel Renfrow is an anthropology junior and may be reached at [email protected].