The cost of college is unreasonably high. Yes, I realize that by putting the word “unreasonably” in there I am stating an opinion, not a fact, which isn’t good journalistic practice. (See, I did pay attention in a those years of English I was required to take, and take, and repeat again.) But, this isn’t a post about trying to figure out why the cost of education is so high, or what the return on investment (ROI) is for college. So upfront I’m just going to state the “fact” of college cost being “unreasonably” high as a way to let you know which viewpoint I’m operating from.
Because I think that the cost of college, and therefore the degree your earn, is so expensive that it needs to be justified by something. And today I’m going to choose that the cost should be justified by how that degree helps you get a job.
And yes, that is a big question, because even the champions of a liberal arts degree – who will say that the main purpose of a liberal arts education is to turn you into a good and thoughtful citizen – also like to claim it will make you a better employee.
But will it get you hired so you can prove that you’re a good employee?
Will a liberal arts degree help you get a job?
Due to my own and other’s experiences trying to get jobs with math and science degrees, I’m less than certain that a liberal arts degree will help you get employed. And yes, math and science are liberal ARTS degrees.
To back up the claims, I was looking for some data, and I thought I found some on the webpage of Phi Beta Kappa, an honor society for liberal arts degrees. (Disclaimer, I’m a member of Phi Beta Kappa, but aside from putting it on my resume when I applied to graduate schools, I haven’t done anything with it.)
On their webpage they have something they call The Arts and Science are Key – Toolkit. In the first section, they “Make the Case” for a liberal arts and sciences degree. (In this article I’m going now use that full title – liberal arts AND SCIENCES because I think it’s less confusing than just saying “liberal arts.”) They make some really interesting assertions that I’ve read in other articles about liberal arts degrees.
“These are skills employers look for when hiring, and can take a person to the top.iii The CEOs of American Express, Disney, Bank of America, Logitech, Procter & Gamble, Delta Air Lines and Pinterest all have arts and sciences educations.” PBK toolkit, emphasis theirs
The interesting thing to me, is that they’ve got sources! So often you see an assertion like this without any sources. Without sources (as I learned in my many English classes), facts like this are worthless. But, in my editing job, I also learned that the worth of your facts is only as good as your source. I’ll be looking at these sources in my next post.
In this series, I’ll investigate these assertions and more as I try to answer the question, “Can you get a good (paying) job right with a liberal arts degree?”
What do you think? Do you have a liberal arts degree? (If you’re unsure, see my post “What is a liberal arts degree?”) Did you get a job right out of college? Or did you get a graduate degree of some type? And if you’re brave, did you get a good paying job with a liberal arts degree?