Being a liberal arts major hasn’t always held the same level of prestige as one you would find in the field of STEM; science, technology, engineering and math. Finding new students to enter into the field of STEM has been a hot topic for some time. The industry is constantly looking for new recruits to fill out positions, but with the shortage of qualified applicants there is an abundance of open positions on the market. For those that found their passion pulled into another direction, say liberal arts, it may seem that you’re limiting yourself to a low paying position with thousands of competitors vying for the same spot. While some of this may be true there are good things to consider about a degree in this area that outweigh the bad.
The liberal arts field is meant to be mind expanding and a boundary pusher. Creative thinkers flock to these types of degrees to find their niche in order to hone in on what makes their skills special and how they can market them to potential employers. As a creative thinker you already have something that a majority of employers are looking for, creative thinking skills. According to a recent survey from the American Association of Colleges and Universities they found that, “Employers want more colleges to emphasize five key areas: critical thinking, complex problem solving, written and oral communication skills, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.” In most, if not all, liberal arts programs this is something already developed into the curriculum. As an English major you’re expected to dissect complex works of literature and synthesize it into digestible papers that compare and contrast conflicting ideas. Critical thinking skills are highly valued among employers, and having practiced these skills for the majority of your undergraduate career shows that you have the necessary skills needed for a lot of these types of placements.
These thoughts were taken a step further in the article, “A Liberal Arts Degree Leads to a Career, Not Just a Job,” by Ellen McCulloch Lovell. It is her belief that the liberal arts area of study allows you to open your mind to new possibilities. Toward the end of the employment research she gives a final nudge to those possibly doubting the route they’ve taken in their programs, “It will “pay off” to master research methods and new knowledge, and learn to think beyond disciplinary boundaries, developing capacities for creativity and written and oral expression.” This is an important lesson to remember. Expanding your mind in school is what the process is all about, but you need to make sure it’s something that fulfills your goals as well.
Simply worrying about the bottom line of what happens after graduation is a valid concern, but shouldn’t be the only one. If you’re in the program because you think it’s easy, then it may not be right for you. You should always be challenging yourself, and looking for the greatest level of benefit to your intellectual capacity.
By J. Mason
Online Career Tips Editor