You’ve likely heard the term “Liberal Arts” tossed around. But just what are the liberal arts, and why are they so special? This article aims to outline the core principles of a liberal arts education and how it can benefit students post-graduation.
What are the Liberal Arts?
The liberal arts are comprised of four distinct categories: the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and formal sciences. The humanities include disciplines such as art, philosophy, literature, and language. History, psychology, economics, and law are considered social sciences. Some of the natural sciences are biology, chemistry, and physics. Lastly, mathematics, statistics, and logic make up the formal sciences. You may be familiar with some or all of these fields of study. In practice, a liberal arts education emphasizes some level of proficiency from each category.
Those who acquire a liberal arts education are commonly seen as sharp and creative problem-solvers. This can primarily be attributed to the scope of the liberal arts, which in turn, results in the development of a proficiency in communication and analytical skills. Furthermore, the multicultural nature of the liberal arts exposes students to new cultural perspectives towards people from a variety of different backgrounds. Problem-solving skills also stem from the unique learning environments available at liberal arts institutions. At big state schools, you will find large lecture halls crowded with hundreds of students, with a lecturing professor at the podium. On the contrary, classes at liberal arts schools tend to be smaller and more intimate, with an emphasis on professor-student interaction. Discussion-based classes led by a professor are not uncommon, and they teach students to converse and debate at a high level. These skills are highly transferable and extremely valuable in the workplace. Liberal arts students possess what are known as “general employability skills,” which allow them to be flexible in a competitive job market.
How Does a Liberal Arts Degree Affect Employment and Earnings?
The Association of American Colleges and Universities released a report in January that suggests that “by their peak earning years, college graduates who majored in the liberal arts are earning higher salaries (roughly $2,000 more a year), on average, than students who studied in professional and pre-professional fields such as nursing and business. The unemployment rate for recent liberal arts majors is 5.2%. The unemployment rate for liberal arts majors ages 41-50 is only 3.5%.” The report also found that 40% of students who completed a liberal arts degree went on to pursue a graduate degree, which further increased their earnings. A liberal arts education, conveniently, provides a student with the necessary skills not only to succeed, but also to excel in graduate school, which will lead to higher pay scales and open up more employment opportunities.
We hope that we have presented a compelling case for the liberal arts. At Truman, we find that some of our most successful alumni have benefited immensely from this style of learning. As such, we encourage you to read some of our featured alumni articles to witness the power of hard work, ambition, and the right education.