Liberal Arts College Curriculum and Career Prospects
When a teenager of age 16 + ponders about the future a question which worries them is –
“What Subject should I Study”
“I am interested in studying multiple subjects can I do that together”.
Well the answer to such a question is not simple but to reach it, one has to do a self-analysis by asking an important question to self.
What is my purpose of going to a college?
Is it to prepare for a career? Or is it to broaden my horizons, expand my knowledge, and analyse my strengthens and personality?
90% of the times, the answers ends up leaving them muddled. But if they mull over the latter idea, then a liberal arts college may sound appropriate.
What Is a Liberal Arts College?
In a nutshell, a liberal arts college that provides an all rounded education.
But obviously, there is more to it. So let’s understand this is details –
What does the “Liberal Arts” education mean?
In the older classical era, liberal arts education aimed at developing an aspirant with moral and ethical knowledge in many fields in a highly formulated manner.
But in today’s modern era, the liberal arts curriculum permit the aspirant to be able to gain knowledge among a wider range of subjects, with keeping the traditional aim restored of developing in an all rounded manner and mastering a range of transferable skills to create the foundation of their career.
What does the Liberal Arts Curriculum hold?
Nowadays, a typical liberal arts degree program is interdisciplinary, which covers topics within the humanities, as well as social, natural and formal sciences. Every institute has a combination of different subjects under the liberal arts program.
The spectrum is generally accepted under the following fields:
- Humanities – includes art, literature, linguistics, philosophy, religion, ethics, modern foreign languages, music, theatre, speech, classical languages, etc.
- Social sciences – includes history, psychology, law, sociology, politics, gender studies, anthropology, economics, geography, business informatics, etc.
- Natural sciences – includes astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, botany, archaeology, zoology, geology, Earth sciences, etc.
- Formal sciences – includes mathematics, logic, statistics, etc.
So a student can dedicate his/her learning towards just one of the above subjects with an aim to engrave a broader spectrum of knowledge and skills in that discipline. For instance, Student X studying BA in psychology could be said to be undertaking a liberal arts education.
Despite these evolutions, the goal of a liberal arts education has remained the same:-
“To create an individual whose education is robust and versatile. Students of liberal arts are expected to be knowledgeable about a wide range of subjects, and to have developed skills that translate well to an array of scenarios.”
How to identify a liberal arts college?
An arts college providing learning that maintains focus on conventional themes and objectives with a goal to not only train the student just for career but to challenge their beliefs and make them adaptable and sustainable for every situation using their critical thinking skills. Thus making them global citizens.
What Career options do I have with a liberal arts degree?
A liberal arts student tends to spend a lot of time in college concentrating on developing for the future life, as opposed to just a professional life, with the belief that the skills learnt will open up opportunities across many industry sectors.
Certain professional careers and sectors need more education, instead of just a liberal art’s degree such as – masters’ or doctorate degree.
The usual career scopes are –
- Academia: the interdisciplinary knowledge and skills gained can be explored with an extra dimension through a teaching/research career.
- Art: the practical skill learning in specific discipline can lead to specialized career in photography, commercial art, painting, interior, graphic and visual design.
- Education: by pursuing additional teaching qualifications can let one use their breadth of knowledge to help a wider range of students, or to teach a wider range of subjects.
- Interpreter: those liberal arts students who learn at least one foreign language can explore career fields as a qualified translator, transcriber or interpreter, or teach a foreign language, or work in the tourism and travel industry.
- Marketing: the humanities subjects help in understanding people better, and help strengthen the communication skills as well. Thus making it possible to choose options like – advertising, promotions, public relations, journalism, news editing or copywriting.
- Political science: some of the common careers in this field include law, public policy, politics, business, and working for NGOs and charities.
- Other career paths: biology (healthcare, laboratory assistant, research assistant), business (entrepreneur, store manager, salesperson), event planning, environment (conservation, public policy), finance (banker, accountant, financial analyst), law enforcement, research analysis (combining statistics and psychology), and social services (such as counselling or therapy).
Skills that Liberal Arts Graduates Develop
To kill the myth that liberal arts student only gains the theoretical and technical knowledge in a specific discipline that they have majored, let’s look at the some imperative skills that is learnt as well –
- Analytical, evaluative, critical and creative thinking skills
- Effective oral and written communication skills
- Problem-solving and pattern intelligence skills
- Ability to learn and synthesize new ideas
- Experience in quantitative and qualitative data analysis
- Critical and reflective reading skills
- Numerical skills
- Effective research skills
- Organization and time-management skills
- Information literacy skills
- Ability to adapt easily to situations
- Ethical decision-making skills
- Ability to pose meaningful questions
- Ability to work in a team
- Self-confidence and self-understanding
- Ability to be sensitive to others and be tolerant of cultural differences
- Foreign language skills and cross-cultural knowledge
Liberal Arts Education in India vs USA
Regardless of the reason, even if you know a liberal arts college is right for you, you still have to find the right one for you.
To get you started, here’s an understanding of difference in Liberal Arts’ education in USA vs India:
In USA the course is being offered since centuries with a vast array of choices whereas in India it has started being offered in the recent and is structured differently keeping the core strength area of the course in focus.
Also in the course curriculum, US universities provide scope of flexibility and are open to evolutions while in India UGC has limited the scope of innovation thus making the course homogenous.
Lastly, the degree duration is India is lesser than the USA.
Author: Priyamvada Agarwal
Priyamvada Agarwal is a proficient career consultant, educationist & test-prep trainer from Kolkata, shaping the lives of numerous students since 2010. She graduated in Arts from Calcutta University and completed her post-graduate from the University of Cambridge.
ver the years, Priyamvada has interacted with and trained thousands of candidates for IELTS/TOEFL/PTE and Verbal section GMAT/GRE/SAT/ACT. She has also been providing soft-skill & life-skill training to innumerable people through the skill-enhancement workshops that she conducts in MNCs, Private Firms and leading Colleges.
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