Written by Hira Vayani
Unemployment, easy, useless––these are some common words people use to describe a liberal arts degree. These ignorant statements, however, are only possible through language, which has been developed through culture––the core of liberal arts.
The reason this ignorance persists is that many people do not know what liberal arts means. Some people think those who pursue liberal arts have done so because they did not get accepted into their first-choice majors. Numerous students, however, have chosen these degrees because they can see the endless possibilities that a liberal arts education affords.
While the liberal arts may appear “easy” or “unnecessary,” this idea cannot be farther from the truth. The liberal arts permeates our daily life in our clothing, food, and history. Liberal Arts Dean Randy Diehl writes,
“More than ever, the liberal arts are essential to our shared humanity and to the health of a democratic society.”
Diehl’s statement says it all. Liberal arts is more than essays and books. It is the foundation of our governments, interactions, and belief systems––the things that make us human.
At the end of the day, all college graduates want to be employed. They want a job that will remain steady, fulfill them in some way, and provide financially. A liberal arts education already checks off the first two of these desires. Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines the concept of flow as a state of genuine happiness when a person is completely absorbed in their preferred activity. The passion that liberal arts students possess for their fields gives them a high chance of acquiring flow in the future.
Additionally, activism, education, research, politics, and so many more liberal arts career fields are permanent. Liberal arts-driven industries cannot be outsourced because they are not fields that can be replicated by people in other countries.
Will a Liberal Arts education provide, however? Money is, after all, important. According to 2015-16 career outcomes data distributed by Liberal Arts Career Services, 48% of students received full-time employment, while 25% of students decided to pursue further education. The rest were identified as special cases, such as the military or part-time employment.
The versatility inherent in a liberal arts education means that liberal arts students can fit into almost any profession.
An English major does not have to only pursue writing or education. They can work in communications. A psychology student does not have to earn a Ph.D. or pursue medicine. They can work in marketing. A government major does not need to become the next president or a lawyer. They can work in journalism, research, or analysis. There are so many opportunities, possibilities, and potential with a liberal arts education.
In today’s volatile political, economic, and social climate, a liberal arts education is more valuable than ever. We need people who understand and care about governmental institutions, current events, and policy. We need people who can observe the inequalities that persist in parts of the world and allocate resources to those individuals. We need people who are aware of and accept people from different origins. We need liberal arts.
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