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Last Updated: August 23, 2021

Selecting the Right College and Program - Liberal Arts

Liberal Studies is an umbrella term that encompasses the disciplines of arts and sciences, and humanities. It is a common misconception that the liberal arts are anything but science or commerce. It is a study that includes a wide range of disciplines that helps to enhance one’s area of knowledge as well as diversify skills. Given that liberal arts and sciences have a multifaceted approach, it is not only advantageous for upgrading their skills but also offers flexibility and versatility for students to follow the career path they ideally desire.

A liberal arts education instills the values, skills, and knowledge students require to successfully pursue meaningful work. There are a multitude of fields that make up the liberal arts, including the pure sciences, mathematics, philosophy, literature, and fine arts. If one is interested in pursuing a liberal arts degree, it is important to think carefully about the most suitable university, degree, and major.

Picking the Right Institute

Students have their own dreams and aspirations when considering aspects like education, and career. Choosing an institute of higher learning which is best for one's career as well as lifestyle is also worth considering. To make these dreams turn into reality, students must take time to carefully explore and research various factors when selecting a suitable college to pursue a degree. The important factors worth considering when selecting the right college are: Institutions such as Williams, Amherst, Swarthmore, and Pomona are among the best liberal arts schools in the United States. These institutions offer excellent training in the liberal arts and have earned their reputations as top schools within the United States. Students who want the big school atmosphere in addition to a liberal arts education also have options. Ivy League schools such as Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, and some private universities such as Georgetown, Duke, and Stanford, all have extremely strong liberal arts programs as well as slightly larger student bodies and graduate student programs. Students should not discount large public research institutions either. State universities such as the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan have excellent liberal arts programs. Choosing a college is a huge decision, but many schools have strong liberal arts offerings. Prospective undergraduates should surely take into account factors such as location, cost, and size when choosing a college, in addition to the school’s class and degree offerings.

Picking the Right Major

Once the most suitable institute is selected, the next major hurdle is to pick the right program. Liberal arts encompass a wide range of fields including literature, communication, history, philosophy, language, and many others. Choosing a major is daunting as it feels like one's whole life depends on this one decision. However, a college major in liberal arts will not necessarily determine one's career. An English major could have a career in teaching, research, writing, or business. A student with a major in marketing could run a company or develop an app. Most employers don’t care if the area of study was foreign languages, philosophy, or history. What they care about is if one can do the job efficiently.

Before choosing a major, it is important to take some time and think about one's interests, skills, mental caliber, and career aspirations. Solving career aptitude tests, going for a career counseling session, trying out internships in different fields, will be beneficial for any student. Given that liberal studies is a discipline loaded with a wide range of sub-disciplines, students always have the scope to think and explore the subject before taking up a specific major. One can check out subject descriptions of different majors and concentrations offered in various colleges before applying. Students also have the option to seek guidance from seniors, experts, or professors to have an in-depth idea about a specific major or career prospects.

A common adage goes that if one has a job that one loves, they’ll never work a day in their life. The same thing applies to academics. The smartest thing one can do for a successful academic career is to pick a major one enjoys. Students who enjoy their studies are more likely to succeed and thus, more likely to develop the skills employers want during the course of their studies.

Career Prospects

Many students believe that specific skills in science, technology, and engineering are the only degrees that will garner them a stable career and a high income. The STEM degrees, which include science, technology, and engineering, have grown in popularity among students by 43% since 2009. However, liberal arts programs still offer students an incredible education and strong career prospects. A 2013 survey commissioned by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that 91 percent of employers believe that “a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than his or her undergraduate major.” More than anything else, a humanities-focused education teaches students to think critically, logically, and creatively. These skills, rather than any specific degree, are the most important to employers of any firm.

Liberal arts degrees can actually garner students' high-flying careers and impressive incomes. A liberal arts education can often take students much further than those which only teach technical skills. Major business leaders including the Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz, former Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner, and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki all earned degrees in liberal arts. Furthermore, a liberal arts education is an integral part of the new economy. Even sectors, such as tech, which many people would not think need liberal arts majors, need people who have studied these subjects. Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs believed that the secret to the company’s success was “technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities.” The liberal arts provide an extremely flexible and lucrative career path for students who pursue their studies. However, one should not discount liberal arts colleges or arts degrees for fear of poor career prospects. The number of careers open to those who study the liberal arts is myriad and the possibilities are endless.

Given below are some career options that one can take up when pursuing humanities and liberal arts majors: