In recent years, there has been some speculation about the value of a liberal arts education, particularly in comparison to more specialized, technical degrees or even big-box institutions. Some argue that a liberal arts education is no longer relevant or practical in today’s job market and students would be better served by pursuing a more specialized degree.
Liberal arts education is in question
One reason for this perception is the growing demand in fields such as technology, engineering, and healthcare. As these industries continue to expand and evolve, employers are looking for individuals with specific training and expertise in these areas. In comparison, a liberal arts education is often perceived as less specialized, and therefore less directly applicable to specific jobs or industries.
There is also a perception that liberal arts degrees do not offer the same earning potential as degrees in technical fields. Paired with the growing emphasis on STEM education in K–12 schools (queue Generation Alpha), this mindset has led many students and families to believe that a STEM degree is more valuable than a liberal arts degree.
We couldn’t disagree more. Perceptions do not always reflect reality, and a liberal arts education is more important than ever in today’s rapidly changing world. Here’s why:
- It turns students into problem-solvers.
A liberal arts education covers a wide range of disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, which enables students to develop a diverse set of perspectives and the ability to connect seemingly disparate fields of study. It also teaches students to be creative problem-solvers, a skill that is highly valued by employers.
- It’s essential for informed citizenship.
A liberal arts education provides students with the knowledge and skills to understand and engage with the complex issues facing our world today. This includes understanding different cultures, social structures, and the global economy. And we as a society can only benefit from having more well-rounded human beings who welcome and appreciate different perspectives and ways of thinking.
- The world needs more critical thinkers.
With technology and globalization advancing at an unprecedented pace, the ability to think critically, communicate effectively, and adapt to new situations is essential for success in today’s job market and life.
Can liberal arts and STEM live as one?
There is also a conversation about liberal arts universities and colleges leaning into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. Evolving to meet the needs of the world and market is just good business, so it makes sense why traditional liberal arts institutions are introducing technical-based degrees. But that approach also comes with some key benefits.
A liberal arts education with a STEM focus enables students to develop a deep understanding of a specific field of study while also gaining a broad range of knowledge and skills across multiple disciplines. This equips students with the ability to think critically and creatively about problems and communicate effectively with individuals from different backgrounds and disciplines.
(And I don’t know about you but if I had to choose between a textbook doctor and one with critical-thinking skills, I would choose the latter every time.)
It’s also important to note that a liberal arts education with a STEM focus can be beneficial for students who are interested in pursuing further education in graduate or professional programs. The broad-based knowledge and critical thinking skills developed through a liberal arts education are highly valued by graduate and professional programs and can provide a strong foundation for further study in STEM fields.
Let’s stop questioning the key to success
To sum it up, a liberal arts education is what the world needs right now.
It equips students with the critical thinking, communication, and adaptability skills necessary for success in today’s rapidly changing world. It also promotes informed citizenship and provides a foundation for understanding and addressing the complex issues facing our world today.
Boosting your liberal arts institution with STEM degrees provides students with the technical skills and knowledge necessary for success in high-demand STEM fields. It is a powerful combination that can open doors to a wide range of career opportunities and further education for prospective students.