Message from SCICU President and CEO Jeff Perez –
Last month I shared the five most popular majors at SCICU member colleges and universities, which were surprising for liberal arts institutions in that they tended to be more career oriented.
Of course, every student at an SCICU institution receives a grounding in the liberal arts, and I think that’s vitally important. But this month I want to pay tribute to the students who choose to focus their studies in these fields by presenting the top three reasons to major in the liberal arts.
To begin, we need to agree on definition. “Liberal arts” is broad and open to interpretation, but generally covers three areas: sciences (including math), social sciences like anthropology and economics, and the humanities, including the arts, English, foreign languages, and philosophy.
Lately, the sciences have been included as part of “STEM:” sciences, technology, engineering, and math.
So, for our purposes, let’s think of the liberal arts as being the social sciences and humanities – they are the studies of the human experience.
And now, the top three reasons to major in the liberal arts:
- Exploration — Not everyone in college has figured out what career they want. They need the opportunity to investigate a range of disciplines, which they receive in the liberal arts. And while it may be discounted by some today, I deeply respect those who develop a love for a liberal arts field and find its study rewarding. They are the caretakers of all that is best about humanity.
- Flexibility — Dell Technologies has estimated that 85 percent of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study of baby boomers born between 1957 and 1964 found they changed jobs 12.3 times. If you have learned to do only one thing, your future is at risk. It pays to be adaptable, which characterizes the mental skills acquired in the liberal arts, in which the student must be inquisitive, conduct research, synthesize information, and communicate it persuasively.
- Money — Notwithstanding all the jokes, those who major in the liberal arts are positioning themselves for lucrative careers, though perhaps not right away. While graduates with liberal arts degrees sometimes tend to have lower starting salaries than with other degrees, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, they catch up by around age 40 – often by becoming the managers!
The moral of the story: students should major in whatever inspires them. Success – however it may be defined – will follow.
I wish you all the happiest – and safest – of Thanksgivings.