Better than a Professionally Focused Education?


guy with diploma


The main issue that arises when considering whether or not to pursue higher education is the likelihood of economic prosperity. The choice to put tens of thousands of dollars into an institution is a big risk in itself that is only complicated once one is made aware of the different types of institutions that exist. It is arguable that one’s main goal is to optimize one’s chances of successful outcomes, therefore the value of a liberal arts education or a more professionally focused education becomes the topic of a perpetual debate. Although both types of education (liberal arts and professionally focused) offer skills and qualities that the other does not, the question becomes what denotes success? My goal is to ultimately weigh the outcomes of a liberal arts education as compared professionally geared education and how they correlate to people’s definitions of success.

In order to establish a model for referencing a school’s ability to produce a desired outcome, the word “success” must be defined. According to a study done by Strayer University in 2014, success is characterized by “happiness more than it is by other factors such as money, fame or power” (Smith 2014). Because of this definition, the terms of success become far more complex. The determinable value of education can no longer be defined economics payout of a degree from a certain type of institution. Because of how the terms of success are defined, it is necessary to define happiness as well. In accordance to the psychological study by Strayer University, subjects defined happiness as “living a fulfilling life” (Smith 2014) which we know are not determinant on monetary or material acquisition. So how exactly does one determine which institution will better constitute success?

Liberal arts schools and other skill based schools each offer valuable assets to their students. Both offer an accelerated level of education that ultimately contributes to the development of knowledge among its students. The main differences between the two types of institutions are the approaches they take in educating. Liberal arts institutions typically allow students to explore a plethora of topics while pre-professional institutions prepare students for specific field of study (i.e. pre-medical, pre-law or engineering). Both sides exist in the ongoing debate on which schooling system is superior. Some make the case that the liberal arts are less focused and pre-professional fields are more successful at helping people find jobs and that those who obtain liberal arts degrees generally have a more difficult time getting job. On the contrary however, many argue that obtaining a liberal arts degree benefits people the most. According to an LA times article, mastering the liberal arts can help one think critically in different aspects of academics. (LA Times). The benefit of such a skill helps people across disciplines (like using sociology as a pre-med students to help with social interaction). For this reason, I would like to argue that a liberal arts education is the most successful in helping students achieve success. It is within a liberal arts educational environment that a health science major would be able to take a course in sociology and would be able to better understand the implications of human interaction and would be able to better understand engagement with a patient, than they would be able to under the guise of classes on the technical application of that knowledge.

In terms of the success described above, liberal arts education helps to facilitate an environment where individuals are not only able to obtain a job, but excel at it. In accordance to the previous definition of the word, those who have obtained a liberal arts education are able to more easily obtain the non-tangible forms of success and happiness that appeal to the human psyche. Therefore, a liberal arts education is, as a whole, more indicative of a success and thus is the more beneficial form of education.






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