Before digging into the value of a liberal arts education, let’s clarify what a liberal arts education is not.
It is not necessarily liberal in its political leanings. Webster’s explains “The liberal in liberal arts has very little to do with political leanings. Its roots can be traced to the Latin word liber, meaning “free, unrestricted.” Our language took the term from the Latin liberales artes… which involved training in the mind.”
It is not centered in the fine arts. A liberal arts education includes a broad education with introductory classes from different fields, including STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), social sciences (economics, history, psychology) and the humanities (English, theatre, music, visual arts).
What is the value of a liberal arts education?
Prepare for the career you want
By earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in computer science, education, business, etc., you will be prepared for your chosen field, with a broader educational background.
Chemistry students gain experience in the fine arts. Music students take introductory STEM courses. Thanks to this interdisciplinary exposure, you will be able to view situations from multiple viewpoints.
Prepare for the career that does not yet exist
According to the World Economic Forum, many of today’s in-demand professions did not exist 10 years ago. Need examples? How about a social media manager, SEO specialist, app developer, cloud services specialist… And the rate of change is only accelerating.
A liberal arts education teaches skills that transfer to other professions, even to careers no one has yet imagined. General education courses tend to focus on research, communication, analytics, problem solving and collaboration. These skills are important in all careers.
Get hired and promoted
Employers look as much for emotional intelligence as they do your GPA. Emotional intelligence is all about your interpersonal skills, such as your ability to collaborate, lead, communicate and think critically and creatively.
Yes, you must be prepared for the job you are seeking. If all else is equal, having emotional intelligence may be the thing that sets you apart and gets you hired.
Typically a smaller school
Liberal arts universities are typically smaller schools. In a smaller school, you have more leadership opportunities, closer mentoring relationships with faculty and staff and personalized learning experiences. All of which increases your emotional intelligence and resiliency as you face challenges in life. And that is the true value of a liberal arts education.
At Bluffton University
Bluffton’s general education program includes four required core courses that provide a framework for the challenges that come with life. Bluffton students also chose courses to fulfill “competencies” in areas such as writing well, creative expression, critical analysis and more.