Liberal Arts

From Fortune (from last November, but ever-relevant! Emphasis added.)

Why critics are wrong about liberal arts degrees

Time to debunk some myths.

For the last time: No, earning a degree in English, philosophy, art history, name-your-humanities-discipline will not condemn you to a lifetime of unemployment and poverty.

Actually, this is probably not the last time I will write some version of those words. It’s certainly not the first time I have written them. (See, for instance, the lede from another blog post I wrote almost exactly a year ago: “Good news for recent graduates who majored in the arts or humanities: you are not doomed to a lifetime of poverty and unemployment.”)

But I feel compelled to keep writing these words because, in the face of all evidence, the myth of the unemployed humanities major persists. It may be more prevalent than ever: Florida Senator Marco Rubio has made snarky remarks about the job market for philosophy majors a trademark of his campaign speeches for the Republican presidential nomination.

But persistent or not, the myth of the unemployed humanities major is just that: a myth, and an easily disproven one at that. Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce has been tracking differences in the employment of graduates from various disciplines for years, demonstrating that all graduates see spikes and troughs in their employment prospects with the changing economy. And AAC&U’s employer surveys confirm, year after year, that the skills employers value most in the new graduates they hire are not technical, job-specific skills, but written and oral communication, problem solving, and critical thinking—exactly the sort of “soft skills” humanities majors tend to excel in.

More at the link.

Liberal Arts for the Win!

From the Atlantic, as though it isn’t totally obvious:

American undergraduates are flocking to business programs, and finding plenty of entry-level opportunities. But when businesses go hunting for CEOs or managers, “they will say, a couple of decades out, that I’m looking for a liberal arts grad,” said Judy Samuelson, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program….

[B]usiness majors seem to be graduating with some of the technical skills they’ll need to secure jobs, but without having made the gains in writing or critical-thinking skills they’ll require to succeed over the course of their careers, or to adapt as their technical skills become outdated and the nature of the opportunities they have shifts over time.

A 2014 study of the Collegiate Learning Assessment test—administered to some 13,000 undergraduates as they entered and exited university—found that business, health, and education majors substantially underperformed students in the humanities, sciences, social sciences, and engineering. The authors then adjusted their results to account for the academic abilities of students entering these majors—and found that business and education majors still showed substantially lower gains in writing, complex reasoning, and critical thinking by the time they’d graduated.

Read the whole thing.