Is a Liberal Arts Degree Worth the Cost?

A liberal arts education offers students a wide range of real-world applicable skills and also serves as a great tool for graduate school admission.

Given today’s economic situation, some analysts and experts express skepticism and doubt about the value of a college education, particularly a liberal arts education. Many argue that blue-collar jobs and associate-level degrees are more practical than incurring student loan debt in a cluttered job market. On the contrary, a liberal arts college education can actually be more valuable now than ever.

For starters, liberal arts undergraduates have an array of options available to them if they wish to further their studies in graduate school. By casting a wide net in undergraduate studies, students leave more options open to focus their learning later, once they’ve determined their academic and professional interests. Undergraduate liberal arts students go on to find success in many industries, including business, health care and advertising.

Due to the job shortage, American workers are experiencing a phenomenon known as “push down.” Graduates who have earned a bachelor’s degree are not always able to find work in the field for which they trained. Therefore, they take positions that may only require an associate degree or high school diploma, essentially increasing the competition for these entry-level and less skilled positions.

Liberal Arts Degree OnlineFurthermore, unskilled American labor is no longer the driving economic force it used to be, as factory and customer service jobs are increasingly outsourced to China and India. Computers and machines have cut into these job markets as well. In fact, with the rate at which technology advances, vocational job skills can become outdated in as little as five years. American companies need strong minds, not able bodies, to compete.

In a shifting job market, liberal arts graduates have the upper hand. Liberal arts students receive a broad education that emphasizes creativity and critical thinking skills. A liberal arts education hones foundational skills that are important in every work environment, such as decision making, analytical thinking, written and oral communication skills, teamwork skills and leadership ability. Graduates are trained to solve problems, not perform a job function.

A liberal arts education prepares graduates to be flexible in the workplace and adapt to changing job roles and technology. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average American spends four years at any given job. With this kind of flux in job stability, a liberal arts education is ideal.

Liberal arts courses produce well-rounded individuals who are capable of facing increasingly complex issues in a global, interconnected marketplace. A study conducted by Hardwick-Day, a strategic consulting firm, found that liberal arts students feel more prepared for the workforce than other recent graduates they have encountered. Liberal arts students are also more likely to graduate in four years or less and are more likely to highly rate their schooling experience.

It is a common misconception that all liberal arts majors are “starving artists.” While it is true that starting salaries may not be as high for liberal arts graduates, a long-term analysis shows that liberal arts graduates have comparable lifetime earnings to that of their left-brain counterparts. The BLS reports that salaries may start low, but they often catch up.

This is not to say that STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) skills aren’t valuable. The best advice is to acquaint oneself with the sciences while pursuing a liberal arts degree. It is not difficult to incorporate technical classes into a liberal arts curriculum.

An associates degree in liberal arts  will prepare you for whatever is ahead. Brescia University Online offers several associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, including an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts, Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Studies and a Master of Science in Management.

Established in 1950, Brescia University is a Catholic, liberal arts institution founded in the Ursuline tradition of personal and social transformation through education. With the advent of BUonline, Brescia brings accredited undergraduate and graduate programs to students across the nation. Brescia’s commitment to a student-centered environment rewards students who seek success through meaningful careers and service to others.