Many students opt to enter degree programs with clear paths to future degrees. Business administration, accounting, engineering, and the like prepare students for specific types of work, equipping them with the knowledge and skills they will need after graduation. However, not all students want to be so rigid in their studies — which is why the liberal arts degree is such a popular option at universities around the world.
Though often maligned by professionals, liberal arts degrees have undeniable benefits. Here are a few of those benefits for professionals early in their careers:
1 Interdisciplinary Approach
Other degree programs may focus intently on a single field, like economics, transforming students into masters of a single discipline. This makes it easy for graduates of these programs to choose their career paths, as they are qualified for an exceedingly limited number of roles that rely on specialized knowledge and skill. In contrast, liberal arts students enjoy an interdisciplinary education, which means they build familiarity with knowledge and skills from many different fields. As a result, liberal arts grads are qualified for a much broader number of careers in which they can choose the roles and paths that are most interesting to them.
2 Small Class Size
Research shows that small class sizes result in more favorable student outcomes. When there is a smaller student-to-teacher ratio, students enjoy more opportunities for one-on-one instruction, and professors can more effectively tailor their methods to ensure that more students are absorbing course materials. Fortunately, liberal arts classes tend to have exceedingly limited class sizes. Not only are there fewer students interested in liberal arts degrees, as opposed to more popular degrees where classes are large and crowded, but also there tend to be a greater number of liberal arts courses for students to choose from, which helps to distribute student populations into numerous smaller classrooms.
3 Faculty Relationships
Another benefit of smaller classes is that students can develop stronger relationships with one another — and with their instructors. Often, students who have the opportunity to spend more time with their teachers enjoy a mentor/mentee relationship, in which professors can help them make better decisions in their academic journey to generate greater career satisfaction and success. Faculty relationships can also be essential for advancing in academics or building a professional network and identifying ideal roles.
4 Interactive Courses
Many students struggle to learn efficiently when provided only lectures and readings. Though many liberal arts classes rely on these components for instruction, liberal arts also tend to involve plenty of hands-on participation for students to engage and explore the materials of their courses. Participation may take the form of scientific experimentation or Socratic discussion, both of which tend to put key concepts to work and help students gain both knowledge and skill in particular fields.
5 Critical Thinking Skills
On almost every job qualifications list is a mandate for candidates to have critical thinking skills, but critical thinking is not always strengthened in college courses. Unfortunately, many popular degree programs do little more than compel students to memorize information and processes that they will recall in their professions. In liberal arts degree programs, students are constantly testing their ability to think critically and creatively, which gives them the experience they need to innovate during their careers.
The future of employment seems uncertain, as so many advanced technologies are assuming so many responsibilities and essentially making many careers obsolete. In fact, some of the most technically demanding jobs are some of the easiest to replace with tech tools, so degrees that were once highly valued — like engineering or finance — could become next to worthless in the near future. The same cannot be said for liberal arts degrees. Because liberal arts grads tend to be skilled in so many different fields, they will always be able to find valuable work opportunities.
7 Social Responsibility
Students in liberal arts programs tend to be less focused on personal gain and more interested in their culture and their community. This often leads them to develop a greater sense of civic and social responsibility, which they employ in their careers and lifestyles. Through their interpersonal interactions or professional endeavors, liberal arts grads are better positioned to make the world a better place for everyone.