Many people these days are putting more emphasis on getting an education that “pays the bills”. More students are choosing schools with practical, career-oriented majors instead of ones focused on the liberal arts.
This is totally okay! It is not wrong to go into college with your wallet in mind, but you should also have a budget for educational expenses.
It can be tricky though because most major employers don’t necessarily value degrees from large, prestigious universities over ones that are less well known.
General degree programs such as business or psychology might be just as important (if not more) than studying engineering or medicine. This isn’t to say they aren’t equally valuable, it’s just that employers look at academic achievements more seriously if they come from smaller colleges or non-traditional fields like art or literature.
Majoring in something creative could still win you lots of money so long as you are willing to put in the effort to hone your skills and knowledge. A degree in English might help you write better, for example, and a degree in business could teach you how to manage time and resources effectively.
The key thing about this approach to higher education is to make sure you are investing in yourself by pursuing things that will challenge and inspire you. Don’t feel like you need to take every course offered, only courses you really want to pursue.
Reasons why liberal arts colleges have majors
One of the biggest reasons that there are no major departments at most large universities these days is because they do not need one. This changes when you look at the size of the school or institution, as well as how much money it takes to run the school.
For example, let’s say that your university doesn’t have any major departmentalized courses. You would then be required to take more general education courses in order to get into some degree program. These general education courses could include things like psychology, sociology, history, literacy and communication skills, etc.
All of these subjects are considered “liberal studies” because they emphasize understanding other people and concepts beyond just studying numbers and facts. Therefore, if a student were to pick up a psychology book, they would learn about hormones, emotions, motivation, and behavior patterns.
These types of books typically use analogies and examples instead of just using statistics and definitions to explain their content. So, knowing what an analogy means and being able to apply it properly is important.
Likewise, reading a biography or autobiography teaches us about human nature and how individuals relate to each other. Because of this, someone who wanted to study social sciences could be assigned to read about Abraham Lincoln or Mahatma Gandhi. Both leaders had profound effects on society and individual relationships, so learning from them is valuable.
Popular majors at liberal arts colleges
One of the biggest criticisms of liberal arts education is that it offers little to no career preparation. Students are encouraged to explore diverse areas of knowledge, but few have clear programs they can pursue after graduation.
This argument often gets tied into questions about what kind of job people with an art history degree or English literature will be able to land.
But this criticism ignores two things: first, how much vocational training most students receive in college, and second, whether or not these additional skills are actually relevant to someone’s future career.
Students frequently take courses like Business Marketing, Management Systems, and Corporate Communications which don’t directly translate into the workplace. Others choose subjects like Sociology or Psychology, which could help them relate to others more effectively, but won’t necessarily get them a higher paying position.
Some even argue that studying Literature teaches people nothing beyond simple reading, and that creative writing classes teach writers only how to write stories. These sorts of critiques clearly miss the point.
Liberal arts degrees aren’t just about learning how to read and write and speak well. They emphasize understanding different viewpoints, being conscious of your biases, and engaging in rigorous analytical thinking processes. All of these qualities are important for anyone looking to lead a successful life.
These types of lessons can also remain meaningful as you move onto other stages of your life.
Degree programs at liberal arts colleges
Liberal arts degree programs typically focus more on subjects like English, history, art, philosophy, political science, and music, among others. These are sometimes called general studies or big-field courses because they touch many different areas of knowledge.
Liberal arts degrees often combine these individual fields into one topic and test your understanding across all of them. For example, a bachelor’s in humanities may examine topics such as literature, cultural anthropology, and sociology, while a bachelor’s in social work might study psychology, health policy, and ethics.
These two examples show how even slightly changing the field can result in totally new degrees that pursue very different career paths.
Popular degree programs at liberal arts colleges
One of the big reasons why people choose to go to an art or music school rather than a business, computer science, or engineering school is because they want to learn more about the field as a whole instead of just studying it as a student in college.
Art schools teach students how to draw, design clothes for fashion shows, and do other artistic projects like painting. Music education teaches students how to play instruments and lead lessons for different types of groups that include children, adults, bands, and orchestras.
These are all important parts of learning what artists and musicians know, but not every artist becomes famous by only teaching drawing and music theory. Being successful takes teamwork and relationships with others.
Liberal arts degrees focus less on one specific area of study and more on understanding the importance of knowledge as a whole. This includes things such as history, literature, philosophy, and sociology. These areas help you understand the influence individual thinkers have on society, and how power is distributed among social classes in a given country or culture.
Education is linked to income inequality. The rich get richer while the rest struggle to make ends meet. Using this link, these academic fields explore ways to promote equality through changing who gets educated and how. They also look into the damaging effects that excessive education has on individuals and communities.
Given all this, academic departments at liberal arts universities strive to educate students beyond their major. They emphasize long term growth over short term success.
Ways to get a job at a liberal arts college
As we have seen, there is no one major that fits all liberal arts colleges. Some offer more business or education related majors while others do not. What many schools share, however, is an emphasis on having students who are well-rounded individuals.
Liberal arts degrees emphasize studying literature, philosophy, history, and other subjects non-fictionally. This is different than studying these things for credit towards a degree in something else with heavier content requirements.
Students coming from an academic background may feel overwhelmed by this type of education setting. Students who have been trained in traditional school settings may need some time to adjust to the softer educational style.
On the flip side, students who enjoy reading and learning about new topics may find this type of school very welcoming. It can help promote creativity as you learn about various areas.
These types of universities also typically have less stress due to being less crowded like community colleges. You will probably know at least one person around the campus almost immediately.
Ways to get a degree at a liberal arts college
Even if you do not want to major in art, music or literature, that is not a reason to avoid these departments. Many colleges offer several degrees in those areas, offering students the chance to explore their interests more deeply.
Liberal arts colleges focus less on having majors and instead aim to inspire students to find their passion and career path after graduation. These types of schools emphasize educating the whole person – body, mind, spirit–and helping students develop critical thinking skills.
Students often walk away from an education at a liberal arts school with greater knowledge of the world than what they had before.
These are not necessarily easy courses for teachers, but they are important ones because they strengthen your understanding of other cultures and concepts like philosophy, sociology, politics, and economics.
General studies classes can also help you learn about different academic fields and how they relate to each other.
Ways to get into a liberal arts college
A degree in art, music or literature is one of the most popular types of bachelor’s degrees students are seeking these days. But before you start planning your educational route, you should know what kind of institution can offer you that major.
Most colleges that call themselves “liberal arts” do not actually have clear majors for each field. Rather, they may offer courses within those areas as well as related ones, which could make it hard to identify clearly what area students will be enrolled in.
Colleges and universities with this problem are increasingly common, however. It seems many schools believe people will assume there are more general education courses under the guise of an art major or similar.
Sample essays for liberal arts colleges
Many people these days feel that attending college is an unnecessary expense. Due to the ease of access to high quality education via online courses, students are graduating with bachelor’s degrees at a lower cost than ever before.
However, this shift towards educational self-sufficiency has left many graduates without the fundamental skills they need to succeed in life. More than half of all Americans over the age of 25 do not have a degree beyond their undergraduate level, and employment opportunities for those who do are shrinking rapidly.
In fact, a large proportion of workplace positions require more than just a bachelor’s degree to be qualified for. In 2017, only 43 percent of job openings required someone with a bachelor’s degree or less, while 60 percent demanded at least a graduate degree such as a master’s or doctorate (NACE, 2018).
Liberal arts majors may no longer exist, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be examples of how they could help you achieve your career goals. By emphasizing areas like literature, history, and philosophy, these general studies programs aim to impart important non-technical knowledge that can prepare you for anything.