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Ten Reasons to Pursue the Liberal Arts
Oct 05, 2010
These days, college students are typically encouraged to go into fields like business or the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math). As a result, many people have forgotten the value of a broad-based liberal arts education. Read on to learn how studying humanities and the liberal arts can enrich your life - and your career.
1. Get Prepared for Any Career
It turns out that the liberal arts may offer the best vocational degrees out there. A recent study by the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) found that few employers think that new college grads are prepared for the workforce. Why not? Since so many students are pursuing specialized degrees, they lack the broad-based skills that are necessary for entry into any career, such as analytical reasoning and creative problem solving. The best place to get those skills is in the liberal arts.
2. Become an Information Specialist
Liberal arts students do a lot of research. But unlike research in science and technology, which tends to be in a lab, humanities research requires time in the library or on the Web utilizing other resources to track down information. In the 21st century 'knowledge economy,' there are few things more important than being an information expert.
3. Think On Your Feet
In one way or another, all students spend most of their time thinking. But liberal arts students spend an exceptional amount of time learning to connect ideas and think creatively. This ability to think quickly can help you navigate almost any challenge thrown your way.
4. Go Global
As the world is becoming more globalized, so is education - and the workforce. Liberal arts degrees require foreign language study, which can prepare you for everything from working in international business (try Chinese) to offering translation services at a local nonprofit (Spanish might be useful here).
5. Get Interdisciplinary
One of the great strengths of a liberal arts education is its multidisciplinary approach. Not only will you be required to take classes in several fields, each class will draw from many different disciplines - for example, literature students often study Freud, a psychologist, and art history students typically study Roland Barthes, a philosopher and semiotician.
6. Communicate Effectively
Nothing makes a better oral and written communicator than the hours a liberal arts student spends reading and writing. Not only will you learn to express your own ideas effectively, you'll also become an expert at understanding - and interpreting - others. These abilities are invaluable in both the workplace and everyday interactions.
7. Win That Argument
Effective communication isn't just about writing a good memo. With most of their class hours spent critiquing books, articles and each other, humanities students are also excellent debaters. A liberal arts education will teach you to mount - and defend - a very persuasive argument.
8. Be a Team Player
In the AAC&U study, employers listed the 'ability to collaborate and work in diverse teams' as one of the most important learning outcomes of a college education. Liberal arts students learn to work collaboratively through years of team projects and peer review.
9. Become a Good Citizen
Are you politically active, or interested in getting involved with your community? Research has shown that Americans with college degrees are more likely to vote. And liberal arts studies in particular teach the critical thinking and communication skills important for civic participation.
10. Expand Your Horizons
Want to explore your academic roots? Read the classics. Learn more about current events? Study political theory. Become versed in arts and culture? Take an arts or literature course. Liberal studies can expose you to new (and ancient) ideas while revealing more about the world around you.