Defending Liberal Arts

Having an English, art or philosophy degree means you teach. You either search out a licensure program or continue going to school to have a higher level degree in your field. This is pretty much a quote from parents to students who plan on attending college in search of a liberal arts degree (mine included). You teach whatever you have majored in. In Andrew Bennett’s article “In Defense of a Liberal Arts Degree” he focuses on the positive attributes that individuals with a broader degree in the humanities can bring to a business work force. His information helps future students (and parents of students) see the opportunities before making such a large decision in a young adult’s life. Had this article been out in 2008 and I read it, I wouldn’t have wasted two years in Business Management.

One point Bennett makes on liberal arts degree is the inability to learn soft-skills quickly when it comes to the workforce. The soft skills learned while seeking a liberal arts degree are taught through personal analysis and discussion with peers. Degrees in science and mathematics focus on hard skill education. These hard skills can be self-taught or easily instructed for the right mindset in a professional environment. Hard skills don’t pull from personal experience gained in humanities or discussion based courses. Bennett also references a survey from the Association of American Colleges and Universities that provides that 74% of CEO’s want more creative minds in their companies. An understanding for diversity and culture provides businesses with a variety of individuals to reach a larger market of clients.

Bennett’s steps for getting a job as a liberal arts graduate seem legit. Reading this as an incoming freshman would help ensure a seat at the table after graduation. The first things he goes on is internships. Lacking experience in a field will keep you from getting a job against individuals who have a degree in that field. Bennett gives an outside view on understanding your degree. He has examples of how you can specify what you did in your degree,
“If you’re an English major, you didn’t just read contemporary European literature, you examined foreign cultures, explored different perspectives, and developed empathy for those worlds apart from you.”
He also pushes to feel the value of the degree you worked so hard for. The example he gives is writing 10-20 pages many times as an English major. By time you finish the degree, this seems like nothing, it is just what you do. But it is impressive. He shows how it provides communication skills and a creative mind. Most degrees don’t write those papers.

Adjusting a skill set to fit a job seems harder than it is. Personal reflection on details of a degree can expand the possibilities further than thought possible. Liberal arts degrees cover a variety of topics and gives students the opportunity to move those things around to fit the job market.

Using a liberal arts degree to apply for business oriented jobs seems like a silly concept. The article from Linkedin helps students see an alternative way of acknowledging the skills they learn in their degree. The honesty and background information on the author mixed with a professional feel shows that a mix between both worlds is a possibility.


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