Are Liberal Arts Degree worth it?

by truthseeker 17 Replies latest jw friends

  • truthseeker

    An excellent article, which also refutes the idea that people only go to college to get rich and make money. Are Liberal Arts Degrees Worth Anything? by Jim Pollock

    For everyone who says that a liberal arts degree doesn't prepare you for anything, you'll find someone else who claims that it prepares you for everything.

    Who's right? Well, both, to some extent.

    The one thing that's pretty much certain is that right out of the gate, a liberal arts grad will tend to pull a smaller starting salary than his or her friends who majored in business or a technical field. Here are the numbers for expected starting salaries for various majors, as reported in the National Association of Colleges and Employers Fall 2005 Salary Survey: Liberal arts/general studies: $32,457
    English: $32,237
    History: $31,727
    Psychology: $29,861 Meanwhile, their former college roommates are living the high life with salaries such as the following, also as reported by the Salary Survey: Engineering: $49,636
    Computer sciences: $49,110
    Business: $41,233

    Given the evidence, why would anyone in their right mind opt for the liberal arts degree?

    I could tell you, sincerely, that it's not all about the money. But it might be better to lean on another cliché: If you do what you love, the money will follow.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I majored in liberal arts. And I'm a big fan of liberal arts education. I'm now in a business role, but I don't regret my undergraduate decision for a second. In fact, my broad education provides the foundations for just about everything I'm any good at in my work. Sure, it took me a few more years to get on a solid long-term track, but I needed to bounce around a little to find what I really liked to do.

    Liberal arts and 'life skills'I gained more life skills from my fine arts classes than anything else I studied in school. In a painting or sculpture class, you put your own, unique vision on the line and have to explain your vision to your peers. It's an order of magnitude more daunting than grinding through a finance exam--I know, I've done both. And it's the same in the corporate world. You can craft a solution on an existing model, or you can create something entirely unique. In some ways, the numbers bear that out. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, a number of lucrative jobs are compatible with a "less than specialized" liberal arts major. Here are the mean annual salaries at a few: Management: $87,090
    Real estate: $75,330
    Business and finance: $57,120

    As a point of reference, workers in architecture and engineering occupations pulled in a mean annual salary of $63,060. This is not to say that a liberal arts education is the key to riches, just that it's not necessarily going to hold you back if you eventually choose to pursue a path in one of these lucrative fields.

    Making a bet on yourself
    An analogy can be made to the stock market. A degree in a field such as engineering is like a blue-chip stock--an employer knows exactly what to expect, and the payoff tends to be positive and steady.

    A liberal arts degree is more like a growth stock. Long-term expectations are strong, but you are assuming some risk, in the form of starting a little lower on the ladder. In short, you are betting on yourself and your abilities. For a high salary, or whatever professional goals you pursue, you need to create your own opportunities.

    Taking the longer view, by far the more important single variable in lifetime expected salary is simply that you continue your education past high school, no matter what you decide to study. Up through graduate school, each level of educational attainment boosts your expected earnings, pretty much regardless of field. So knowing that, why not study something you're interested in?

    The trump card: Back to schoolThe professional world is so fluid, so rapidly changing, that overspecialization can sometimes put up walls rather than open doors. That's the great thing about going back to school after you've been in the workforce a while. More than ever, it pays to try a few different things, or even keep reinventing yourself throughout your career. A lot of attention is paid to starting salaries, but what matters most to your quality of life is your success and satisfaction 10, 20, 30 years down the line. Institutions of higher education recognize this new reality, and increasingly flexible programs enable professionals to gain the additional training they need, on terms most compatible with their lifestyles.

    Is that it?
    I held back on the squishy-soft stuff earlier, but I'll close by saying what I value most about my own liberal arts education is nothing short of getting the most out of life. I look forward to transcontinental flights for the time I'll have to conquer books I haven’t had the chance to read. When I'm planning business trips, I research the shows at local museums and try to sneak a visit between meetings.

    Sure, I'd enjoy those things anyhow, but the appreciation I gained during college is something I'd never have had the time to pursue otherwise.

  • jstalin

    I'm done with my undergrad degree and now I'm looking at a masters. I'm not looking for something that will make me more money, I simply want to learn. Degrees aren't always about career and money.

  • LuckyNun
    Degrees aren't always about career and money.

    Agreed. Although, in a college town, a Liberal Arts degree will only get you so far. Most Liberal Arts majors I know work as baristas. When EVERYONE has a college degree, it becomes almost as worthless as a high school diploma. What's the next step up? Around here, the only thing a Master's gets you is a MANAGEMENT position at the coffeeshop, so you can lord it over all the baristas with Bachelor's Degrees.

    I do admit, when you get insulted by a college educated barista, the insults are better.

  • CaptainSchmideo

    The Architectural Design Major says "I can design it!"

    The Engineering Major says "I can build it!"

    The Accounting Major says "I can keep track of the funds for it."

    The Liberal Arts Major says "You want fries with that?"

    The Pioneer says "I'll get to those toilets as soon as I finish the floor wax!"

  • stillajwexelder

    At my Alma Mater in the restroom above the bathroom tissue holder (toilet roll) was written " Liberal Arts Degrees - please take one"

  • sir82
    Degrees aren't always about career and money.

    No, no, no, no, no!

    Go back and read your October 1 Watchtower.

    People go to college because they are greedy money-loving b*****ds. That is the sole reason anyone has ever gone to college, going back to Timothy's days, as referenced in this summer's DC drama (re: the famous "Athens University MBA").

    Meanwhile, simultaneously, college absolutely positively does not qualify anyone for any job that exists anywhere in the world, as evidenced by numerous word-bites selectively quoted in said Watchtower.

    So, you have money-loving b******ds who are all going to college, only to find out after leaving, no one gives them a job except Wal-mart or McDonalds.

    And that's why you should go to Bethel instead, and be in high demand for a job after learning how to ink a press or stack books in a cardboard box.

  • littlerockguy

    I didn't finish up my liberal arts undergraduate studies. I went to vocational school and got an additional diploma to go next to my high school diploma and then only got through 2 years of undergraduate study at a hellaceously expensive private liberal arts college. I took upper level classes for my major when I was a freshman (I was an English major) and enjoyed it but ran out of money. My educational experience has helped me even though Im not making a fortune. I done the best with what I acquired and now work as a medical transcriptionist (college experience has helped me learn how to learn and thus I taught myself and perservered in learning extensive medical terminology to be able to type any kind of medical report from any medical specialty). I work in a large clinic and supervise 8 other medical transcriptionists in the department- 2 have a liberal arts degree- one in fine arts and the other in theatre and another has a degree as a dietitian.

    I do want to go back and finish up but now I dont know what I want to get it in and what for but I have many different interests. I would like to study literature and other stuff for personal development but I thought about moving into a different area of the medical/healthcare field.

  • Elsewhere

    If you are willing to starve for your art, then by all means get a Liberal Arts degree.

    Ok, ok.... I have to admit, I do know one woman who has done quite well with a Liberal Arts degree. She actually became a well-paid VP at a large bank... of course she was the daughter of the man who owned the bank she worked at.

  • littlerockguy
    Ok, ok.... I have to admit, I do know one woman who has done quite well with a Liberal Arts degree. She actually became a well-paid VP at a large bank... of course she was the daughter of the man who owned the bank she worked at.

    Yeah more often than not expensive private liberal arts colleges are great for kids of wealthy families who are heirs to a family fortune and don't actually have to make money on their own merits but inherit a position in a family business, etc.

  • DanTheMan

    My dad always said you go to college first and foremost to become an educated person. I agree.

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