The Value of a Liberal Arts Education
Students with a liberal arts education are prepared for today's evolving world of work. Liberal arts graduates are attractive to employers because they have developed the skills necessary to adapt in an ever-changing workforce. Yet many individuals do not understand what a liberal arts education is, why it is appealing to employers, or how students can prepare for careers related to liberal arts.
The liberal arts provide general knowledge and develop intellectual capacities. A liberal arts education prepares students to work in a variety of jobs, whereas other types of education enable students to develop professional or vocational skills for a specific job.
Thomas University offers the following liberal arts programs:
A liberal arts major provides a student with broad knowledge about the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. With assistance from an academic advisor, students have the option to tailor their major to best suit their individual needs and abilities.
How Do Employers View a Liberal Arts Education?
Many employers know that a liberal arts education prepares students for successful careers. In 2000, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveyed employers across the country to determine what they look for when they hire new employees. The survey showed that employers tend to focus on finding graduates with the right skills rather than the right major. The majority of employers surveyed indicated that a new employee with the right skills could easily learn the specifics of an industry.
The survey also showed that employers desire transferable skills, skills employees take with them to any job, such as written and verbal communication skills, the ability to solve complex problems, to work well with others, and to adapt in a changing workplace. These transferable skills are characteristic of a liberal arts education. For details about the National Association of Colleges and Employers survey, go to the NACE survey press release.
An AT&T survey also found that liberal arts majors advance more quickly to middle and senior management positions than their colleagues who pursued other fields of study. This survey reflects what many employers already know: A liberal arts education equips graduates with many of the skills they need to be successful. These graduates become employees that are ready to learn.
How Can Liberal Arts Students Prepare for Careers?
As students pursue a liberal arts education and prepare for a career in a variety of industries, they can take these steps to make themselves more marketable to potential employers:
Students can meet with their advisors to brainstorm about possible careers options. They can conduct informational interviews of people in jobs of interest and ask about the skills they should develop and opportunities to develop them. These professionals might know about internship opportunities to help students learn more about a particular career and other related professions.
A liberal arts education can also provide an excellent foundation for students who wish to pursue graduate study in health care, law, business, or other fields. Graduate schools look for candidates who will succeed in graduate-level study. Candidates with a liberal arts background are appealing, because they demonstrate an ability to learn and succeed.
The value of a liberal arts education goes far beyond its economic value. Liberal arts graduates are equipped with the skills to become valuable community members. They understand problems, generate solutions, and communicate those solutions to others. In many ways, a liberal arts education is education for life — it prepares graduates who can adapt and thrive in an ever-changing world.