Liberal Arts Schools: Is it Worth it?

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Alejandro Pelayo
CSP Liberal Arts on the Brink
Professor Sargent
28 January 2016

Liberal arts schools: Is it worth it?

Many have debated for years pertaining the value liberal arts colleges provide to its graduates. A liberal Arts college is an institution known for its small class sizes, focused faculty, and its aim for students to attain a broad general knowledge. Most people look at a liberal arts college and think it’s a school that is supremely liberal and encompassed with democrats. When in fact, Liberal Arts schools are enclosed with students that have the freedom to be curious and study a wide range of areas. Many claim that liberal arts colleges develop general intellectual capacities that creates better citizens and aids in the student’s future success. However on the contrast, others would argue that a liberal arts education is worthless and schools like vocational or technical that are directed to specific areas of study will lead to better success in the future. From my own experience, I have found that Occidental has made me a well rounded student through the spirituality offered on campus.

A liberal arts education teaches students how to think and challenges them to be able to adapt to new situations which is key to the work force. Liberal arts aims to develop general intellectual capacities, in contrast, to vocational school or technical school that force the students to study a specific area. If students are entering college and are being directed to focus on the fields that have the most opportunities, then all the other jobs will have too few candidates to choose from. It is actually an immense risk to focus on a certain area and choosing the wrong path can make things worse, not better. The real problem is that nobody can predict where the future jobs will be and the economy is simply too volatile to guess way ahead of time. To use a Wall Street-related analogy, “preparing for one specific job is similar to investing heavily in a single stock based on its past performance—widely considered a bad investment strategy. Diversification, spreading the risk across a variety of sectors and investments, is a more judicious approach.”

Some people argue that technical education is the key to our future success because they claim a technical diploma will bring in more money than a person with a bachelor’s degree. However to counter this, Noah Leavitt says, “You know, not too long ago I read that a third of Fortunes 500 CEOs were liberal arts students as undergraduates.” People with liberal arts degrees do so well in business because they can get along with people. A liberal arts education teaches students to be a better citizen and in turn gives us effective resources to be successful. One argument that comes up frequently in articles is that some surveys show a large majority of employers rating that college graduates they hire are unprepared for their jobs. However, every new job comes with a learning curve and employers value workers that work hard, learn fast, and know how to teach themselves.

I believe liberal arts schools are out to educate the whole person which I find to be very valuable. Teaching a student to be a better citizen and a better well rounded person is key to success in the future. From my own personal experience, Occidental has made me a better person through my faith and spirituality offered on campus. I go to a Christian club twice a week called Intervarsity fellowship of Christians and it has had a positive impact on my life. Spirituality also brings out a sense of community and belonging. I consider the people in intervarsity as some of my closest friends and I know they only want what’s best for me. Spirituality strengthens our connections with others on campus and will overcome the sense of isolation that many college students go through during their experience. Occidental has made me into a better well rounded character and in my opinion a liberal arts schools is more than worth it. From all this I can conclude, given the global leadership of American graduate education and the global economy’s demands for flexible, adaptable employees, undergraduate liberal-arts education is more than relevant. It remains one of our country’s great assets and will continue to flourish in the changing world that we live in.

Citations

Astin, Alexander W. 2004. Why Spirituality Deserves a Central Place in Liberal Education ERIC. March

Krislov, Marvin. 2013. “The enduring relevance of a liberal-arts education.” The Hechinger Report. December 5

Deresiewics, William. 2014. Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League The New Republic. July 21

Williams, Mary Elizabeth. 2014 “Hooray for worthless’ education!” Salon. Mar 27.

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