The Daily Need

Is a liberal arts degree worth it?

With debt from student loans nearing or, by some accounts, surpassing the amount of debt from credit cards in 2011, there’s been a lot of talk lately about whether a traditional liberal arts education is worth the cost. The 20-somethings who fill the ranks of the Occupy Wall Street movement, for example, have been ridiculed for their gold-plated fine arts degrees, which can cost as much as $100,000. Rick Scott, the Republican governor of Florida, has derided public funding for anthropology and other humanities disciplines as a waste of taxpayer money. “I want that money to go to degrees where people can get jobs in this state,” Scott said in a radio interview earlier this month.

Very few people would disagree with the notion that government should invest more in what are known as the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and math. Given that traditional jobs in processing, sales, marketing and other types of back-office operations are either being out-sourced or replaced by technology, it would certainly seem beneficial for Americans to become more familiar with the sciences. Research on the quantitative value of a liberal arts degree is mixed — some studies say engineers earn a lot more money, others say the difference evens out over the long run — but at the very least, knowing how new technologies like Siri work can only be a plus on your resume.

That said, several experts are pushing back on the idea that diverting public funds from the liberal arts to science and engineering departments will make America more competitive in the long run. Michael Crow, a science policy analyst and president of Arizona State University, wrote in Slate last week that the role of public universities should not be purely vocational.

“The objective of public universities should not be to produce predetermined numbers of particular types of majors but, rather, to focus on how to produce individuals who are capable of learning anything over the course of their lifetimes,” Crow wrote. “Every college student should acquire thorough literacy in science and technology as well as the humanities and social sciences.”

In support of his argument, Crow offered an interesting hypothetical: “Inspired engineering, in other words, could come as a consequence of familiarity with the development of counterpoint in Baroque music or cell biology. Or even the construction methods of indigenous tribes.” To the educational pragmatist, this scenario might seem far-fetched. How might a background in polyphonic melodies inform the design of, say, a bridge or aqueduct? If Scott or any other jobs-minded governor is looking for ways to cut the fat out of the public education system, the study of melodic counterpoints in post-Renaissance music would seem to be a prime candidate for the chopping block.

Except some of our most revered, influential innovators — and, not incidentally, job creators — took their inspiration from disciplines that are arguably even more obscure than music. Steve Jobs, who was neither a computer programmer nor a hardware engineer, famously told graduates of Stanford University in 2005 that one of the most influential and lasting experiences in his brief tenure at Reed College was his dabbling in calligraphy.

“It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating,” Jobs said. “None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life.” Ten years later, his knowledge of serif and sans serif typefaces came rushing back to him as he designed the first Mac. If he had never dropped in on that calligraphy class, Jobs said, “personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.”

Jobs also famously spent seven months after dropping out from Reed trekking across India on a spiritual journey. Walter Isaacson, his biographer, recalled in a recent interview with “60 Minutes” what Jobs said when he returned from India: “The main thing I’ve learned is intuition, that the people in India are not just pure rational thinkers, that the great spiritual ones also have intuition.”

India, of course, is now regarded, along with China, as one of our main upstart competitors, training mass numbers of engineers and computer programmers who will soon usurp American workers on the world stage. If, according to one of our most honored, iconic businessmen, intuition is among Indians’ greatest professional strengths, should Americans cultivate intuition as well?

That question, of course, raises another: How does one cultivate intuition? It’s a nebulous quality, perhaps as much nature as nurture. But a good place to start might be a strong liberal arts education — with roots in philosophy and the study of literature, for example — that teaches students how to be creative, critical thinkers, gives them a broad base of historical knowledge to rely upon when solving problems and, as Crow argues, equips them with the tools to continue assimilating new knowledge throughout the courses of their lives.

After all, advocates of the humanities argue, it’s precisely because technology is fundamentally transforming our world that we should teach students to be broad systematic thinkers capable of absorbing the bounties of knowledge that arise from new wellsprings of discovery in fields like genetics, artificial intelligence and robotics. Plus, once artificially intelligent machines like Watson take over jobs in even advanced fields, like medicine, the jobs that will remain will require creativity and problem-solving, not just the rote memorization of specialized knowledge or proficiency in technical skills.

Certainly, we should all become more acquainted with the sciences. Understanding how artificial intelligence works, for example, will be fundamental to succeeding in the next economy. When Siri replaces the personal assistant, being able to work with Siri might be a good skill for a job seeker to have. But Jobs, the man who created Siri, took his inspiration for the sleek design of his products from the importance of simplicity in Buddhism. Perhaps a curriculum designed to create the next Steve Jobs would combine courses in software engineering and business administration with, say, a seminar in eastern philosophy.

 
SUGGESTED STORIES
  • thumb
    The admission arms race
    From ProPublica, an in-depth look at the ways in which colleges can pump up their stats.
  • thumb
    Home-grown terrorism
    The story of the Boston bombers is still unfolding at high speed, but counterterror officials believe the brothers were Islamic extremists.
  • thumb
    Boston reading guide
    Need to play catch up? Here's a full list of resources for more on what's going on in Boston.

Comments

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VPTWFPJZ2X7X66CTLG2FD3IABY Torrey Runner

    I have a Ph.D. in biochemistry from a Big10 school. I’m making $42k. I wonder if the STEM plan works either.

    I wonder if anyone informed Pfizer that they shouldn’t be cutting their research spending by billions of dollars. Then again, who ever said that large pharmaceutical companies look at the long term when it’s the quarterly balance sheet that matters most to stock holder.

  • K Germaine87

    Torrey I have a BA in English and make as much as you do working at a college. I’m in the lower end if my pay bracket because of the changes to payroll structure for educational institutes recieving federal grant and loan money. I should be pulling closer to $50k… Go figure. Lib arts are not worthless.

  • http://twitter.com/dougdechow Douglas Dechow

    Yes. RT @PBSNeedToKnow: Is a liberal arts degree worth it? Some are coming
    out in defense of a strong liberal arts education: http://t.co/xjWyGgYB

  • Jay

    I have a MS and BS in Metallurgical Engineering from a major midwest university financed by the GI BILL which got me my first job which lasted 4 years, until I became a control systems ENGINEER IN AN OIL COMPANY; discarding what I had learned in college and relying on the the 6 months of USAF Electronics training which then served as the basis of  my career knowledge – ‘growing up’ with the computer revolution for the next 45 years until I retired. Is there a message there somewhere ???

  • http://twitter.com/jerryhamilt Jerry Hamilton

    A liberal arts degree is worth it if you can afford it and if you have another Degree to complement it! Seems like allot of energy wasted to earn 50k a year, Maybe. Truck drivers on average make 50k to 65k a year, and the field is short 120,000 people?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JM3Y47ASALI36VGXTV7BVYZSCQ MahenjoDaroen

    Same here…BBA in Computer Information Systems, make $33K as a Network Administrator. STEM degrees are not the gold mine that they are being sold as.

  • AvalieS

    Ah-h-h, long before STEM took the stage, I acquired a Bachelor’s in Mathematics.  Taught but little pay, could not live off it.  Took some accounting and worked in that fields, okay–some $.  But, no BA or BS in acctg but no one wanted that at the time.  I was where I could get a Masters in Liberal Studies and did so.  It was the most rewarding experience in education.  If an employer is looking for an employee who does not wear blinders, this is it.  As a result, I look at things in a different light.  I had the propensity for logic, no I am much more investigative on a topic.  I can carry a conversation on many topics as a result of the LS classes.  I wish I had encountered those classes earlier than I did.  I have an indepth background and experience but am unemployed due to grant funds being routed elsewhere.  My continued unemployment is perhaps due to being over experienced rather than overqualified (I was told by a prospective supervisor when I had no masters that I couldn’t be hired because I would have his job in a year.).  The insecure in a hiring position view me as competition, not the situation for me.  I don’t shove people out of their position.  All I can say is that many have passed up the best thing in their career!

  • Brian Willis

    I have read several articles on the Chronicle of Higher Education that say liberal arts majors, on the whole, make less money but report being much happier with their jobs and life situation. Go figure.

  • K Germaine87

    If you enjoy your work and make a decent living ($50k is extremely comfortable if you live a life free of pricy trappings and pretensions) a lib arts degree is FAR from ‘wasted time’. I’m 24 and earn a very comfortable wage using the logic, reasoning, and creative problem solving/research skills I gained along with my English degree. Now, I went to a state school and busted my rump to keep a full academic scholarship while working two jobs and coaching youth sports. I am a firm believer in making the most of every minute of your life. So no, I did no waste any time nor any energy on a useless degree. I conquered life and enjoyed ever moment of it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=836024348 Dennis Sweitzer

    There certainly is a message: 
     ”Blessed be the flexible, for they shall not be broken”I daresay you used a lot of things you learned from your Metallurgical degrees: perhaps most of all, how to think like an engineer (and least of all, the lists of memorized facts).  

  • http://www.westmont.edu/institute CHoeckley

    Here’s a simple and clear case for a liberal arts education: http://www.westmont.edu/institute/college/docs/#

  • Zeppo

    The unemployment rate for people with math-based degrees is about 4%.

  • Zupe

    We live in a Professor-ocracy.

  • Joshmo

    Philosophy and Religion, Arts and Humanities is why I make 117K

  • http://twitter.com/MomaliciousMe Mom

    How many idiots do you know with degrees?  Companies need to dispense of arbitrary requirements for bachelor degrees being a condition of hiring.  People feel obliged to get these worthless degrees because they fear they won’t get hired without them. There are plenty of capable people who can do the jobs without the degree and probably with less a sense of entitlement.  Diverting funding won’t help.  Changing employable requirements will.  

  • Ann

    “Less a sense of entitlement?”  Because you went to college?  Wow.  What’s that code for, that working for peanuts if you can’t code will make you noble?  Please.  Most people actually want to be able to afford food and shelter, so they’re going to take the path of most rewards, but where on earth did this idea slave wages should be appreciated just because one isn’t really interested in math and science?  We used to VALUE people who either worked with their hands or worked with their minds on a different level than the average code monkey or actuary.  Now, somehow, we’ve let certain politicos brainwash us into believe it’s MORAL to pay these people 3 slugs and a burros because that’s “all they’re worth.”  And to be frank, I know a lot more mentally agile and acute English majors than I do Computer Science majors.  The latter can be a little rigid and intractable in their problem solving ability.  They know one thing but they’re not intensely agile when face with cross-disciplinary problem solving. 
    And as far as a “sense of entitlement” is concerned, that starts with the parents, not with the career choice, “Mom.”  If you feel that strongly, good, it’s about time parents do.  So lead the charge and instill a sense of civic responsibility, courtesy and humility in your children.  Entitlement comes from having everything handed to you growing up, from never being made to take the consequences of or apologize for your mistakes, not from your vocational or career path.

  • jan

    I’m imagining a world without art, music, and an ability to communicate effectively.  Its barren and ugly.  

  • Proftom

    Something happens in a college classroom besides test and lectures. Ideas bounce around inside minds. Dots within subconscious minds get explored and reexamined in ways unimaginable to metropolitan common sense. 

    The practical sciences don’t provide all the answers. They challenge mnemonic skills but they can’t explain intuition or inclinations. The best job you will ever have is the one you invent yourself. Based on your passions, and your own ideas. The job you daydreamed about 10K during your college classes. 

    Nah, liberal arts classes are the best investment in your self you will ever make. 

  • mja717

    if you want to solve the worlds problems, you NEED TO KNOW (play on words) the psychology, culture, religion, history, language, geography and all the different dynamics of each society, that’s exactly what a liberal arts degree will do for you!

  • Anonymous

    There is a lot of antipathy between those NOT college bound and those who are. I work with many machinists who are mechanical GENIUSES, but can barely formulate a complete sentence. People have WIDELY varying skills and strengths. More respect  and compensation must be given to the manual laborers of our society, who actually make NEW wealth for our country, and don’t just TAKE someone else. We’d manufacture more in the U.S. if we actually respected manufacturing

  • jackbenimble

    Every time the government raises available financial aide of various sorts by $1 the Universities capture this money by raising tuition by $0.95.  The net effect is that the financial aid is a huge subsidy to Universities but does nothing to help poor students and destroys parents and students who don’t qualify for the financial aide but still suffer the tuition increase.

    The government should get completely out of the business of interfering in the education market so that tuition prices can fall back to reasonable levels.  When people are then paying for their OWN education, the government won’t have any business telling them what to study and taxpayers won’t feel any need to complain that their taxes are being spent on worthless anthropology degrees.

  • Anonymous

    The government has an obligation to the future, there is enough money without the spending on major budgetary concerns like the War Department to completely offset the cost of tuition, books housing, food and other necessities. I am not advocating the complete draw down of Military spending but limiting to a reasonable amount that is is line with the other countries in the world. Our military spending is more than the next 5 countries combined and this is more than an outrageous sum, it is a form of corporate welfare that must not and cannot continue if this country is to go forward into the 22nd century. America need not be the sole policeman in the world, we are not in a privileged position to either claim that standing nor are we, in the eyes of the world a fit country to do this. 
    America must invest in its university level education if it is to continue as a world power in the future. The future will consist of information technology and America is fast losing its place in that area. We have fallen behind in the race to see that schools all across the country are equipped with fast internet and computer education. We have fallen behind in the hard sciences, biology, geology, genetics, genetic engineering, physics, astrophysics, cosmology and other sciences which are necessary for a nation to grow at a pace that will ensure the continued growth of its economy. 
    In my opinion, this is not only a need but an essential means of ensuring the continued existence of the US as a machine for growth. America must invest in alternative fuel technology research, we must again claim the mantle of scientific research and educational capital of the world. If we do not do this, if we lag behind in not only the sciences but in the liberal arts as well, law, history, philosophy, psychology, languages, which in our educational system are woefully inadequate, we will become that which we greatly fear, a banana republic fit for only domination of a more powerful and worthy competitor nation.

  • Anonymous

    jackbenimble,

    There you go again!

    Rising college costs really accelerated after then California Governor Reagan targeted higher education in response to Vietnam protests.

     He called protesting students “brats,” “freaks,” and “cowardly fascists.” And when it came to “restoring order” on unruly campuses he
    observed, “If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with. No more appeasement!

    Several days later four Kent State students were shot to death. In the aftermath of this tragedy Mr. Reagan declared his remark was only a “figure of speech.” He added that anyone who was upset by it was “neurotic.” He then began dismantling support for higher ed by:
    a. calling for an end to free tuition for state college and university students,
    b. annually demanding 20% across-the-board cuts in higher education funding,
    c. repeatedly slashing construction funds for state campuses
    d. engineering the firing of Clark Kerr, the popular President of the University of California, and
    e. declaring that the state “should not subsidize intellectual curiosity

    Also, stock held private colleges like the online “university” of Phoenix expect large profits, and often do, at the students’ and taxpayer’ often huge expense.

    Kiplinger, which offers financial advice, reported that 39 of the top 100 four-year public colleges charged about the same or less than the average annual in-state full price, which was $15,213. Many were a lot lower.

    The average total per year for a student in a PRIVATE school is
    $35,600, according to the non-profit College Board, which owns and
    administers the SAT as well as other exams and programs.

    1 Timothy 6:10,  “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”

  • Anonymous

    There you go again!

    Rising college costs really accelerated after then California Governor Reagan targeted higher education in response to Vietnam protests.

    He called protesting students “brats,” “freaks,” and “cowardly fascists.” And when it came to “restoring order” on unruly campuses he
    observed, “If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with. No more appeasement!

    Several days later four Kent State students were shot to death. In the aftermath of this tragedy Mr. Reagan declared his remark was only a “figure of speech.” He added that anyone who was upset by it was “neurotic.” He then began dismantling support for higher ed by:
    a. calling for an end to free tuition for state college and university students,
    b. annually demanding 20% across-the-board cuts in higher education funding,
    c. repeatedly slashing construction funds for state campuses
    d. engineering the firing of Clark Kerr, the popular President of the University of California, and
    e. declaring that the state “should not subsidize intellectual curiosity

    Also, stock held private colleges like the online “university” of Phoenix expect large profits, and often do, at the students’ and taxpayer’ often huge expense.

    Kiplinger, which offers financial advice, reported that 39 of the top 100 four-year public colleges charged about the same or less than the average annual in-state full price, which was $15,213. Many were a lot lower.

    The average total per year for a student in a PRIVATE school is
    $35,600, according to the non-profit College Board, which owns and administers the SAT as well as other exams and programs.

    1 Timothy 6:10, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”

  • Sxwjttaboo

    You are absolutely right, my brother. If everybody was a scientist and each one knew how to make pianos, shoes, furniture etc, who would buy from whom? It is just like the stupid idea that some people have that everybody should be super rich; who would work collecting garbage? Monkeys and dolphins? The purpose of education is not merely to get good jobs. You know what, it is because the Occupy participants have good liberal degrees that they are able to juxtapose the realities of super rich and the middle class. They are using their critical thinking skills and analytical skills, skills also learned in science.  What is the use of having scientists who are not students of history and morality and civilization? The answer is a world full of nuclear warheads (read Reagan), environmentat depletion, poverty, immorality, murder and genocide, and a slew of other destructive tendencies. Consider this, it was because Hitler was able to advance science and technology that he thought Germany could counquer the world. His scientists convinced him that. Guns, bombs, napalm, biological weapons are instruments of destruction advanced by science and technology. The governor down south needs to take a liberal class about functional education, fuctional psychology, political science, and a sprinkling of religion. By the way, how did he become governor without these skills? Just wondering

  • Brad Berthold

    While we certainly need bolstering in the STEM subjects, let’s take a look at the undergraduate degrees of some of our top CEOs and entrepreneurs.  I’ll wager a great number of them are liberal arts or other, non-STEM degrees.

    It’s what gives to the term, “well rounded.”

    The old British notion, “as every schoolboy knows” assumed knowledge of the classics, perhaps Greek or Latin, certainly history, geography, and other subjects of which modern American schoolboys and girls know little or nothing. That can’t be good.

    The increasing “commercialization” of research in American universities is a cause for concern too, wouldn’t you say?

  • Anonymous

    Yes indeed… worth it. But then again, I spent the first two years in community college because tuition was far less than at a four year university. I was able to pay out of pocket for the first two years while working nights… then transferred and received my degree in Visual and Performing Arts.

    Why was it worth it? Let’s just say that the expense for the last two years was over the top, On the other hand, while I originally planned to go into graphic design, the state of the nation convinced me that the world didn’t need another Nike ad. I am now doing rewarding work and using my skills for absolute good.

    Which is why the powers that be would rather some of us didn’t bother. We turned out to be a huge pain in their arses.

    In solidarity. Occupy college!

  • Anonymous

    Exactly. Who was it that set up the accreditation system anyway? Hmmm?

  • Anonymous

    And a good thing, too. Otherwise the brain dead would be running the asylum. Exhibit A: Michele Bachmann B) Rick Perry C) Sarah Palin D) Herman Cain E) Choose any number of bible belt religious fanatics who think that Adam and Eve frolicked with dinosaurs 6,000 years ago.
    Thank the universe for rational minds.

  • Daniel_snmrtn

    Complete blasphemous. A liberal arts degree should not be funded by the government; students spend their money wistfully anyways on uselessness. Take for instance the time they have wasted harassing small business throughout thier occupying movement. I use thier as a generic term. I wonder if you, yourself have a liberal arts degree, through your failure to properly name the creator of Siri, Mr. Dag Kittlaus. Dag Kittlaus, by no means sounds like Steve Jobs, unless of course you are illiterate.

  • Artcat120

    Would it hurt to mention that Adam Cheyer, one of the co-founders of Siri and the engineering director of Apple’s iPhone team, went to a liberal arts college for his undergraduate degree?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_K6BFP5E5L2ZZDZ2NRGUGIIAYQI The Dude

    So I pay taxes for years and my daughter yearns to earn a liberal arts degree in literature and my tax dollars go only to STEM majors. Either refund my taxes, defund all public community colleges, colleges and universities and all majors or let people pursue the studies they choose to with equal funding for all taxpayers and their children.

    A great world many of you desire, technocratic geeks – how boring.

  • Ronbo

    Here again, capitalism is the big bad villain here. Education has gotten so expensive because of the market for education. The idea that schools are great because of their administration, sports and marketing efforts is absurd. A simple excellent teacher lecturing on a video on a free government run web site would bring education costs down to the real costs of education. There is no need for students to travel across the country to see an poor/average teacher lecture in a crowded school for tons of money. Education should be absolutely free! On line!

  • LoveMidEd

    The field of Liberal Studies or Arts is an extremely
    pragmatic field; believe it or not.  This
    type of degree serves as a very strong springboard into something else.  Liberal studies, being a huge umbrella of so
    many different disciplines such as world history, literature, creative writing,
    philosophy, mathematics, and all the sciences serves to inspire any soul and
    help guide students recognize and strengthen their innate abilities.  Liberal Arts expose you to an amalgamation of
    possibilities.  What will come next,
    Governor Scott of Florida?  Get rid of
    electives in public schools?  I came into
    the field of education because of Liberal Studies nearly ten years ago with the
    idea that perhaps what the reform in American education calls for is a Liberal
    Studies approach from the very beginning. 
    Politicians: Are you worried about the economy?  Try something new; here’s an idea:  I dare you to expose our young students to
    the Liberal Arts.   Do you really want
    educational reform and critical thinkers? 
    Try this approach at the middle school level  and I assure you we’ll end up with a much more
    internationally competitive young America as well as many more scientists and
    mathematicians by the time they finish high school.

  • Stormrider_52

    No it isn’t worth it, period.

  • Ktweed

    Steve Jobs didn’t invent Siri.  He purchased it.

  • Texan723

    I can vouch that a liberal arts degree can be valuable. I majored in Spa ish at a local, “first generation” university in NJ. Although my masters and doctoral studies were in a different category, the BA proved to be very beneficial to my field after my masters studies. The Bachelors level is just the stepping stone. With the economy and job market being slow, a prospective BA grad should consider staying on at school after discerning a career and the appropriate course of study. One cannot get enough education: always it opens doors in good and bad times

  • Jeff

    A degree in Liberal Arts might not be the “sexiest” choice of majors, but it has it’s advantages.  It teaches critical thinking skills, it also focuses on a broader education.  You don’t focus on one thing.  I learned history, art, literature, writing skills, public speaking, psychology, sociology, stats, calculus, macro and micro economics, and used my electives for business courses  I received a well rounded education.  You might not learn a ton about one subject, but you learn a lot about many different subjects.  It’s also a great springboard for a master’s degree.  I earned my bachelor’s in LA, then went out into the “real world” found out my career path, and then went back for my master’s in sociology.  My LA degree filled most of my core classes, so it was an easy transition.   Some might want to stick to a more “focused” major, but when I hear people say a LA degree is a waste, that is not true.

  • Jeff

    A degree in Liberal Arts might not be the “sexiest” choice of majors, but it has it’s advantages.  It teaches critical thinking skills, it also focuses on a broader education.  You don’t focus on one thing.  I learned history, art, literature, writing skills, public speaking, psychology, sociology, stats, calculus, macro and micro economics, and used my electives for business courses  I received a well rounded education.  You might not learn a ton about one subject, but you learn a lot about many different subjects.  It’s also a great springboard for a master’s degree.  I earned my bachelor’s in LA, then went out into the “real world” found out my career path, and then went back for my master’s in sociology.  My LA degree filled most of my core classes, so it was an easy transition.   Some might want to stick to a more “focused” major, but when I hear people say a LA degree is a waste, that is not true.

  • Anonymous

    This degree is the most  wide-based, noon-science degree on earth.  It teaches one to think, to use critical thinking.  I, who have science degrees, know how compartmentalized and specific these degrees are.  But if I want a great debate on issues, I prefer a liberal arts educated person.  It’s a shame that “for profit universities”  (and Bible Universities) are being allowed to usurp  education.

  • Anonymous

    This degree is the most  wide-based, noon-science degree on earth.  It teaches one to think, to use critical thinking.  I, who have science degrees, know how compartmentalized and specific these degrees are.  But if I want a great debate on issues, I prefer a liberal arts educated person.  It’s a shame that “for profit universities”  (and Bible Universities) are being allowed to usurp  education.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YQDTJSUUUIC3IY5WT52LC3SZBY Steve

    I’m in my final semester of a Liberal Arts degree in History, and I have learned a lot along the way.  Unfortunately for me, no one cares.  I have a 3.76 GPA, but most companies would rather hire someone with a 3.0 and a B.S. in business for entry level positions.  A degree is only worth as much as those hiring graduates think they are worth.  I would recommend to anyone pursuing a  Liberal Arts degree, to change majors immediately.  It’s one thing to study what you enjoy, but you’re really destroying your future opportunities, unless of course your desire is to teach or be in sales.

  • john gille

    I never have enough money to support my liberal arts course. I think this stuff was originally made for a gentleman. I will probably never use any of it. Its like bring ing a pizza oven on a camping trip to fry an egg.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/55PNWYDCTFNUM2VHUBYZ3EWINU swampwiz

    Once the computers & robots take over there won’t be enough jobs for everyone. Saying that folks need to be “creative” is a way of saying that folks will be forced into a brutish Hunger Games type of competition for the few jobs that will be there.

    I suggest that the broad working class would be better under some sort of Marxist redistributive economy.

  • Steve

    College is the only place where you pay for the commercial to be screwed. Those 100 level courses in sociology told me I would fly with this degree and I believed them. Now, I did 12 thousand applications, its my second high school diploma, and it ran me into chapter 7–yay socilogy! Now my school has politely asked to stop making appintments with the placement department that could never help me in the first place. My college spoke so much differently when I was 19. The grad program speaks the way they started–if I put in 60,000 more dollars I might have the status to get that job. Believe ‘em twice? It’s just called life.

  • Philip Gamblin

    What you do is worth only what somebody is willing to pay you. If you choose a classical education in 19th century feminist literature with no STEM background at all, your resume will shine at Barnes and Noble, with the dozens of similar degrees. Getting paid isn’t about moral it’s about value. As far as mentally agile English majors go, when the job market needs them their value will go up.
    There is a sense of entitlement. Making a living isn’t as formulaic as $100K education = $120K paycheck. the student has to realize they need to make a living. If you spend $100K to get a job that pays $28K it’s your burden alone.

  • Philip Gamblin

    the message is Real Skills make for REAL Opportunities. I ‘ll bet they didn’t even care what you thought about Emily Dickinson.

  • sweetcynic

    Writing skills and quantitative skills are not mutually exclusive. Those who have both have the best options. I say this as someone who majored in economics and minored in mathematics. If employment had not been a consideration I probably would have majored in government or political science while minoring in math, but instead I took those courses as electives. In my workplace, liberal arts majors are often perceived (not always rightly) as lacking quantitative skills, data analysis skills, computer proficiency, and certain basic critical thinking skills such as the ability to distinguish between causation and correlation. Engineers are sometimes stereotyped (with varying degrees of accuracy) as having poor writing skills, but that can easily be demonstrated to be true or false by having the applicant complete a writing sample after the interview. I think it is important to ensure that all graduates, regardless of their major, develop the skills that they need to pursue their desired careers.

  • Don

    Ask Governor Scott what was his preparation for his role as governor and you will understand his stance on education beyond high school.

  • Guest

    Not true.. It’s all about what you want to do with your degree. One really needs to grasp their prior to declaring. Everyone is different and learns differently.. Some of these comments and media articles put it out like there is some Absolute Truth to this whole success theory. There isn’t and never has been.

    And those who say they should be cut, they are usually the ones that complain about not being enough jobs and such.. Cutting away programs would mean cutting away jobs, so they are just supporting the problem they complain about<typical arrogant arguers, their arguments are no different then a dog chasing his tail.

    I don't see why they should be cut away when you start thinking rationally about it. Why shouldn't universities offer it for students? if you don't like it, don't major in it.