Liberal arts degrees are not useless, despite some messages from media outlets and society as a whole, and students who attain them are not doomed to irrevocable poverty.
There is a lot of pressure on college students when it comes to picking a major. Parents tend to want their children to succeed in careers and often encourage them to pick certain college majors that will lead to profitable salaries. In addition, many want their children to receive a degree in a growing career path to be nearly guaranteed a job offer shortly after graduation.
Students who graduate with non-technical degrees face higher unemployment rates after college matriculation, according to an Oct. 11, 2012 Forbes article. On the other hand, students graduating with degrees in health care, business, science, technology, engineering and math have consistently higher, more stable employment rates and salaries in their career fields.
Potential salaries within a career path should always be a factor to students when choosing majors, but money should not be the only consideration. Liberal arts students are likely to make less money upon graduation, but that does not mean their degrees or jobs are worth any less to society than more technical career paths.
Science and other technical fields are important to the world, but they are not everything. Where would we be without artists, writers, philosophers, historians, politicians and psychologists? Arts and social sciences are important. They create culture, analyze historical events and help us cope. They make life more bearable. We need people to fulfill these jobs. We cannot function as a society saturated with only science graduates. We need people with arts degrees, too.
Both professions deserve equal admiration, contrary to society’s assumption that an engineer should be valued more than a writer. It is even possible that without the journalist reporting on the profitability of the engineering field, students never would have set out on that career path in the first place.
According to a Jan. 27, 2012 Fox Business article, liberal arts graduates’ wages tend to “outpace” technical career salary earnings within 10 to 20 years. Some of these graduates in technical career paths may find their particular skills quickly outdated. On the contrary, liberal arts students may develop more universal skills, such as writing, that are beneficial in many careers.
The point is not that arts degrees are particularly lucrative, however. The point is that no matter what your passion is, there is a way to make a living from it if you are willing to work hard. Students should not merely consider salary earnings first when picking a major, but instead should attempt to find a degree that allows them do something they love or are passionate about. Often, liberal arts degrees focus on so-called “soft skills” such as communication and problem solving, many of which are attractive to potential employers in all kinds of fields. Liberal arts students may not necessarily have the most set-in-stone career paths as other technical majors. However, this flexibility may give liberal arts graduates the wiggle room they need to segue into all kinds of different job opportunities.
Arts and social sciences are necessary components of a society obsessed with information, media and personal growth. These careers are not “worthless,” although they may be somewhat less lucrative than their technical and business counterparts. For passionate students who want to work hard for what they love, liberal arts degrees are not only emotionally fulfilling but practical and versatile in the changing modern job market.