Are the Degrees in Liberal Arts Useless? | Careers in Liberal Arts: Review and College Memes
So, you are here to know the career scopes of liberal arts. Great! Are you seriously considering Careers in Liberal Arts??? Well, think twice; in fact thrice.
First thing – you might have to argue with your parents (and Kapoor Uncle, pados ke Sharmaji, Kanpur waali Buyaji et al.).
You: Dad, I am thinking of opting for Liberal Arts because ……
Dad: When you will you grow up? Are you serious with your life???
Relatives: Beta Engineering karle, bahut scopes hai!
So, here is the first problem you know; there are no scopes in Liberal Arts. After all, Liberal Arts is a combination of subjects that include art & humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, economics and related fields. It’s an approach to deal with intellectual challenges, creativity, diversity and the real world. How on earth can you study Liberal Arts? You didn’t get it; well check out the following facts.
Liberal Arts is a Waste of Time (and Money)
On LinkedIn, Steven Waechter, Liberal Arts graduate from the University of Northern Iowa, put a justified article on Why Liberal Arts Degrees Are Worthless. In an article in Forbes, Tim Worstall is lobbying for abolishing the Liberal Arts Degrees. As per Katie Hopkins, a liberal arts degree is a waste of time (and money); unless you are as bright as Socrates. Now there is the catch! You have to be bright.
If you are someone with average IQ, unable to think logically, no or low creativity, and no soft skills, then a liberal arts degree will be useless for you. Liberal arts is the career path for the creative thinkers, innovators, and business leaders. It’s not for anyone next door. However, not everyone understands the whole thing due to lack of subject understanding and career opportunities. So, parents quite often discourage their children for Liberal Arts major. Liberal Arts education basically originated in the US and very recently resurfaced in the continental Europe, where it actually originated. Asian countries including India started to take it seriously in 2013 (reference – QS Top Universities). Know more about Liberal Arts Education and its history.
There was a great article in The Washington Post by Steven Pearlstein titled Meet the Parents who won’t let their children study literature or liberal arts. As the author justified, it if you are passionate about liberal arts and have got the right skills set and aptitude, then a liberal arts degree can help you in today’s competitive economy. Additionally, it’s not only the misconceptions of the parents that have led to the unpopularity of the liberal arts degrees. One of the roots causes is the way how the liberal arts (and humanities) have been taught in the majority of the colleges and universities, as explained in a follow-up post by Joseph Pearce.
Now let’s have a look at some of the major points in favor of why Liberal Arts is a great major to opt for your undergraduate degree.
Liberal Arts is Not a Waste of Time and Money
Since 2015, liberal arts majors are the hot favorites for getting admission at the top business schools. Although any undergraduate major can lead to a top business school, but given the academic breadth of the liberal arts education, liberal arts graduates are valuable for adding diversity into the MBA class. As per the US News, Liberal Arts Major is not a disadvantage.
Okay, I got it…. MBA karke kya ukhaad lenge? Well, liberal arts graduates are now also becoming the heartthrobs of the tech companies. In 2010, the legendary Steve Jobs said “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough, ” and further added that “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing” as quoted by FastCompany. As per the finding of CNBC, liberal arts graduate might struggle at the beginning of their careers, but the overall career prospects are excellent.
After all, the software engineers and coders need to work with creative thinkers, designers, social media marketers and sales people who can connect with customers for making a venture a successful enterprise.
The 2014 study by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, in conjunction with the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, found that liberal arts graduates might earn $5000 less than STEM and other graduates on an average. But, by the time they reach their late 50s, professionals with liberal arts degree earn $2000 more than their peers with STEM or other professional degrees.
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However, my real point is not that you should go for liberal arts just because you will make more money in your lifetime. That could be a real blunder, and it might really prove to be useless and waste of time and money for you.
If you just want to go after the trend after reading the Forbes article on That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket and assuming that all the on the Tech Giants are running after Liberal Arts Major, you are wrong. You should also read the follow-up article to the Forbes article on Medium – Here’s What You Can Do with Your Useless Liberal Arts Degree. This is the mistake most of the students (and parents) make. You see someone is doing nicely in a particular subject or major, you assume that’s the right one for you. Who knows, maybe you are really made for having a great career in Engineering, IT or Biotechnology. You need to choose a major only if you are really passionate about it, and also have got the right skill set to make a career out of it.
More importantly, studying liberal arts is not easy. Don’t you believe me? Have a look at the following memes (curated from BuzzFeed).
Memes on Liberal Arts Education
You will be studying some of the toughest and most weird subjects. Studying Maths, Chemistry, English Literature, Theory of Music and Psychology can really haunt you.
You will have to constantly tell people about your college since NO ONE has ever heard of it.
This is actually true. Stoodnt founders Ajay Singh (Founder & CEO, Stoodnt)and Yuri Punj (President & Co-Founder, Stoodnt) met each other at the Harvard Business School during their MBA days.
Founders of Stoodnt: Ajay Singh (L) & Yuri Punj (R)
During the introduction phase, Ajay (who has got a B.Tech. degree from IIT Roorkee and an MS degree from UT Austin) found out that Yuri did his Liberal Arts degree from the Colgate University. Although Colgate is one of the top Liberal Arts School in the US, Ajay’s first reaction was – yeh toothpaste banana waale college khab khol diya!
So many subjects mean 10X assignments. That can really drive you nuts.
Even if you managed to find an empty seat in the library, avoiding friends while studying will be much harder.
The dating and relationship prospects might not be that bright
Talking about diversity while studying liberal arts? What The Friday (today is Friday, right – the day of posting this blog).
Graduating and knowing you’ll miss the hell out of the place you called home for four weird (and wonderful) years!
Free Webinar on Liberal Arts Careers in India and Abroad
So, what are you thinking now? Will go for a major in liberal arts? Oh, you are still not too sure about the subjects and career paths. The following video on Careers in Liberal Arts in India and Abroad will surely help you.
Author: Tanmoy Ray
I am a Career Adviser & MS Admission Consultant. Additionally, I also manage online marketing at Stoodnt. I did my Masters from the UK (Aston University) and have worked at the University of Oxford (UK), Utrecht University (Netherlands), University of New South Wales (Australia) and MeetUniversity (India).
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