Critical thinking skills. Problem solving abilities. Diversity of thought and experience.
These are just a few of the valuable skills you'll learn, sharpen, and implement — professionally and personally — as a graduate of a liberal arts education. There are many other skills you'll learn to maintain, and here are five we want to highlight right now.
1. Pursuing a liberal arts education will give you the soft skills that all employers are seeking.
No other course of study requires the intellectual flexibility of a liberal arts education. Learning how to read broadly and carefully? Check. Fine-tuning your writing skills? Check. Learning to critically examine ideas, philosophies, and their consequences? Check.
The well-rounded education offered in the liberal arts usually leads to more interesting, well-rounded graduates suited for a variety of jobs. It’s no wonder that a third of all Fortune 500 CEOs have liberal arts degrees, or that when recently surveyed, 74 percent of employers said they would recommend a liberal arts education to college-bound students.
2. An education rooted in the liberal arts will marketable critical thinking skills.
Our increasingly complex global economy demands a well-rounded college graduate: one who can think deeply and logically about political, philosophical, religious, and cultural issues. This is precisely what an education in the liberal arts allows students to go through the emphasis on reading, analyzing, and discussing a wide variety of texts, usually in a smaller classroom setting that allows for maximum professor-student interaction.
In fact, in the aforementioned survey, more than three-fourths of the employers said that “a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than [a candidate’s] undergraduate major.”
3. The liberal arts emphasize ethics and empathy:
Can studying liberal arts make you a better person? Well, not necessarily. But, according to a recent study done on the long-term impact of a liberal arts education, you’re more likely to live ethically if you do. The relatively high percentage of class time devoted to seminar-style discussions encourages students to listen respectfully to learn from their classmates and professors, who often have differing opinions.
The empathy fostered by a liberal arts education is invaluable, especially considering that over 90 percent of employers surveyed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities said that they “want those they hire to demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity; intercultural skills; and the capacity for continued new learning.”
4. Liberal arts promotes leadership and mentorship skills.
While it may seem counterintuitive, recent research indicates that the “intimate” educational environment (small class size, lots of one-on-one interaction with professors inside and outside of the classroom, etc.) of a liberal arts program results in graduates being 30 to 100 percent more likely to be leaders in their chosen fields and/or communities.
While it’s not entirely clear why this correlation exists, we do know that when asked “if they regularly had people seeking their advice outside their areas of expertise, whether they were frequently called on as mentors, whether they have been elected to positions in social, cultural, professional and political groups,” liberal arts graduates were much more likely to answer in the affirmative.
5. Studying the liberal arts can make you a more fulfilled person.
Pursuing a liberal arts education can also make you a happy person. Why? Maybe it’s because the liberal arts tend to study what they love as opposed to what they feel like they should study, or maybe it’s because they’re more likely to become lifelong readers of great literature, or maybe it’s because they’re more empathetic and ethically sensitive, or maybe it’s a combination of all of the above.
Regardless of the exact cause, we know that graduates of liberal arts programs were 25 to 35 percent more likely to view “their professional and family lives as meaningful,” If that’s not a fantastic reason to consider a liberal arts degree, we don’t know what is.
The good news is that all Marymount University students are required to complete the Liberal Arts Core courses, so even if you don’t choose to major in history, communications, English, or religious studies, you’ll still get many of the benefits of a liberal arts education.