As a student in 2021, are you looking for an academic major and, ultimately, a career path that can significantly impact society as a whole? Have you thought about the liberal arts? If you're unfamiliar with a liberal arts degree program, here is a quick overview:
A typical liberal arts degree program is interdisciplinary, covering topics within the humanities and social, natural, and formal sciences. While there are variations in particular subjects included from one university to the next, the liberal arts spectrum generally covers these fields:
Now that you have a general understanding of liberal arts, we can catapult past the antiquated mindset of concentrations covering engineering, medical, or law as top options and uncover opportunities for other majors that can reshape the world. With the increasing popularity of the liberal arts sector, creative thinking is taking the forefront.
That type of thought-process might sound too obscure for some, which is why there are several misconceptions and interpretations of what liberal arts might entail and its usefulness. Many might believe that the skills imparted by a liberal arts degree are too abstract or inapplicable to the real world. Conversely, degrees in liberal arts teach you how to critically think and find creative solutions to fix problems — that is a valuable skill in every facet of life!
While we can go on about the number of reasons picking a liberal arts degree is an excellent idea, below we've listed three significant benefits, possible majors to choose from, and careers that correspond.
A liberal arts degree will provide you with the soft skills employers want. According to the World Economic Forum, critical thinking and problem-solving top the list of skills employers believe will grow in prominence in the next five years. So even if you have an impressive resume, you still have to collaborate with others, communicate in a team setting, offer creative solutions, challenge conventional thinking, or adapt and improve any given industry changes. A liberal arts education can equip you with the soft skills you need to succeed during and post-university.
Societal impact. A degree in liberal arts will help you understand many of the issues not just your organization may face but ones global societies encounter as well. It teaches you to be empathetic toward matters you may not have experienced by exposing you to the study of people. For example, when you take courses in any humanities discipline, you use different methods to learn about individuals, groups of people, and yourself. Through this examination, you develop an appreciation of others and learn to entertain various viewpoints. These skills can help you as an employee to create rapport with teammates by embracing diverse perspectives. Looking to be a future leader? These degrees provide decision-makers with a broader, more varied range of ideas to better run business and governments and react to challenging situations. Sounds pretty great, huh?!
Positive employment outlook. If you're faced with concerned parents asking, "What are you going to do with that degree?" tell them not to worry! Liberal arts education has stood the test of time, and employers look favorably on that background. Even back in 2013, 80% of employers said that all students should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts. So while your earning potential may not start as strong as someone with, say, a nursing degree, earnings data from PayScale shows that many liberal arts majors achieve high mid-career incomes that close the gap with more traditional majors. Additionally, the skills you'll develop in your liberal arts major will help you become a better employee by making you an expert collaborator, solution-based in your approach, and someone who can share and interpret complex thoughts with coworkers and leadership. This gives you an advantage when looking to score a promotion or move into a different position altogether.
Because a degree in liberal arts translates to countless different careers, the options are endless! Below are only a few of the opportunities that exist if you decide to take this path.
History major (social sciences)
Psychology major (social sciences)
Linguistics major (humanities)
Earth sciences major (natural sciences)
Mathematics major (formal sciences)
Degrees in the liberal arts sector set you up for a lifetime of learning, evolving, and empathizing while allowing you to work in a wide range of settings to impact people and the world profoundly. So if you're considering embarking on a liberal arts journey and are looking for more benefits and reasons why or how it could be the right choice for your future, check out A Practical Education: Why Liberal Arts Majors Make Great Employees.
Research and resources:
Haidar, H. H. (2021, February 15). What Is A Liberal Arts Education. Top Universities. https://www.topuniversities.com/blog/what-liberal-arts-education
Whiting, K. W. (2020, October 21). These are the top 10 job skills of tomorrow – and how long it takes to learn them. World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/10/top-10-work-skills-of-tomorrow-how-long-it-takes-to-learn-them/
Hart Research Associates. (2013). It Takes More Than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success. Association of American Colleges & Universities, 10. https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/it-takes-more-major-employer-priorities-college-learning-and#:~:text=Few%20think%20that%20having%20field,the%20liberal%20arts%20and%20sciences
The Best Universities For a Bachelor’s Degree. (2020). College Salary Report. https://www.payscale.com/college-salary-report/bachelors#explanatory