Liberal arts education should be valued more

Jasiel Mendiola/The Cougar

A liberal arts education provides multi-dimensional knowledge that is vital in today’s world. 

There has been a push for STEM-focused education in recent years that has shoved the liberal arts to the sidelines. 

Society needs engineers, doctors and scientists but these roles are not created from just pure science-focused courses. 

Engineers need to learn how to collaborate with others, doctors need to learn how to be empathetic toward their patients and scientists need to ponder moral and ethical decisions. 

All of these skills are taught through a liberal arts education.  

Aside from strengthening a student’s critical thinking and communication, it offers transferable knowledge that provides a broader set of skills that can be used in any field. 

Microsoft president Brad Smith has emphasized the importance of liberal arts degrees in the world of STEM. 

When it comes to creating artificial intelligence technology, it requires more things than just code. 

Developers of self-driving cars are already struggling with ethical dilemmas regarding accidents. Whether to save the driver, passenger or pedestrian is not easily solved with a math equation. 

It requires a humanistic approach. 

Another concern regarding a liberal arts education is the return on investment. The 10-year salary for most liberal arts careers is $62,000 which is 40 percent lower than the average median of a 10-year salary for a STEM degree.

However, the 40-year salary from a liberal arts education rises close to one million which is 25 percent higher than that of a STEM degree. 

Concern over monetary compensation is valid since it arises the question of whether liberal arts graduates are adequately paid for their work. 

Teachers are one of the many occupations that are underpaid despite carrying one of the most essential jobs of teaching children who are the next generation. 

Gov. Greg Abbott has pushed for voucher programs that take money away from public schools to private ones. 

Money is leaving the public education system which affects not only students but teachers as well. 

More than half of teachers are planning to quit their jobs because of burnout and lack of support in their field. They are too many job openings available which leave the remaining teachers forced to pick up the slack from the empty spots.

It is safe to say that these teachers are not being paid for the extra work they are pushed to do.

Black and Hispanic teachers also have higher leave percentages which raise a concern about racial disparities in education and the type of schools that are struggling the most.  

With that in mind, a liberal arts education is not valued the same as a STEM education despite them sharing the same goal of creating a better society. 

Both are equally important to innovate future projects and advancements. 

The only difference between the two are their approaches. 

While one is more systematic and tech-heavy, the other combines several soft skills together to make sure the idea comes to life smoothly. 

Instead of putting these two fields against each other, academia should focus on combining their strengths to build a more inclusive future. 

The government should also put effort into making sure people who study liberal arts are adequately paid for the work they do. 

Uniting these two fields is vital for society’s advancements. 

Cindy Rivas Alfaro is a journalism sophomore who can be reached at [email protected]

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