By Dixie Somers
In today’s educational system, the term liberal arts refers to subjects like social or physical science, mathematics, literature, humanities, and the arts. It does not include technical or vocational programs. While many people feel that a technical degree is better for graduates entering the job market, the reality is, there is some advantage in a degree from a liberal arts college as well.
Background for Graduate Degrees
A degree with a major in one of the liberal arts fields is an excellent background for those planning to go after a master’s or doctor’s degree. It provides a well-rounded knowledge base in a variety of subjects. Many graduate schools actually prefer this. Their intent is to teach all the specialized subjects themselves. The liberal arts degree becomes a foundation on which to build an area of expertise. For example, someone who is interested in entering the educational field may go after a history master’s degree in order to teach the subject more fully.
Aside from the specific subject knowledge in most majors, liberal arts students will no doubt be much better at oral and written communications than their counterparts. Being able to communicate effectively is a critical job skill that employers like to see, especially in prospects who are expected to advance through the ranks and into management. These same fundamentals that enable one to communicate effectively also can carry over into interpersonal skills. Employers prefer individuals who are good at team building and who can manage others with compromise and delicacy.
Critical thinking is vital for effective problem solving. By the time students finish a liberal arts program, they have been exposed to the type of studies that require the use of analytical thinking. This becomes an important skill that can be used in both the job market and in graduate school.
Because of the requirements most liberal arts schools have for graduation, students will be exposed to a wide variety of subjects. This gives them a diverse background they can carry with them into the next phase of life. An example is the requirement of a foreign language. Even though one may never visit a country in which that language is spoken, learning it increases their overall knowledge base. In addition, there will likely be requirements in fields like history, social studies, religion, and others that will provide diversity in their education.
Most people will go through numerous phases in their careers. They may not stay in the field in which their degree was earned. A liberal arts degree, because of the diversity, critical thinking, and communication skills that students develop, will help in all stages of life.
Dixie Somers is a freelance writer. Find Dixie on Facebook.