Q: My son is in 12th grade and is thinking of studying liberal arts. I am not sure how will the subject prepare him to manage business. What is your opinion?
A: A common thing I hear from students and parents is that they don’t want to study ‘liberal arts’, as they want to succeed in business. My retort usually is studying liberal arts will virtually guarantee success in business.
Liberal Arts is a term used for a holistic education offered by colleges, wherein students learn natural sciences, social sciences, arts and the humanities. In a liberal arts programme, students will study everything from physics to history to economics to biology. Unlike more professional or technical degrees such as engineering or medicine, liberal arts degrees will be more comprehensive and less-focused on one singular field. By definition the concept of liberal arts study is very wide and would encompass humanities (philosophy, languages, and ethics), natural sciences (biology, chemistry), social sciences (history, psychology, economics) and formal sciences (math).
Liberal arts programmes underpin the majority of the US undergraduate education system. Students who major in fields such as economics or political science will all have completed variations of liberal arts degrees, as they have all received a Bachelor of Arts. Additionally, there are many US colleges that only offer liberal arts degrees. These liberal arts colleges, such as Williams College, don’t offer engineering or medicine as a degree.
Studying liberal arts helps expand your horizons. This broad learning experience helps students get a more expansive education, giving them skills and knowledge across multiple fields.
A liberal arts degree is great for students who haven’t decided what they want to focus on. By getting a wide exposure to a variety of subjects, students can figure out what they enjoy or are good at and then pursue that as a career. Additionally, since students get a broad skill set, they can jump careers easily and not be pigeonholed into one industry for the rest of their lives.
Preparation for work in a variety of sectors
If you’re hoping to pursue further studies after college, a liberal arts background can prove invaluable, for instance if you choose to study law, the skills you gain in a liberal arts degree will help you succeed.
Unless you are applying for a technical role, having a liberal arts degree will not disqualify you from a job. In fact, most employers look favourably on liberal arts degrees due the broad skills and cross-discipline education you bring to their workplace. Your ability to adapt is also highly prized in the modern workplace, as things are always changing.
You will find people with liberal arts degrees working in finance, technology, government, academia and more. This degree opens up more doors than any other degree!
You would be surprised to know over a third of Fortune 500 CEOs have a liberal arts degree. Billionaire entrepreneur and tech investor Mark Cuban recently predicted that "there’s going to be a greater demand in 10 years for liberal arts majors than… for programming majors and maybe even engineering."
In addition to specialised liberal arts colleges like Pomona, Williams, Amherst, Harvey Mudd and Haverford, students can always study liberal arts subjects at the larger universities like Yale, Dartmouth, Pennsylvania and Berkeley in the US, or at Oxford, Cambridge, Kings College and Durham in the UK.
Sanjeev Verma is the managing director of Intelligent Partners, a leading education consultancy based in Dubai (email@example.com, www.intelligentpartners.com). Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.