Is a Liberal Arts Major a Wise Choice?

Liberal Arts Major-

They were golden when they marched into their high school graduation ceremonies four years ago. They would be off to college in a few months to broaden their horizons, gain independence and ready themselves to make their way in the world. Instead, they are now without any significant income and, once again dependent on parents and, worst of all, sheepishly moving back into their old bedrooms. What was all the studying for? The all-nighters and the extra-credit assignments? The second-guessing and self-doubt then set in. Perhaps a more practical major would have prevented all of this. Is a major in the liberal arts, i.e., social sciences or humanities, really just a waste of time and money?

What Employers Want

Liberal arts majorsIn the current economy, of course, graduates with those “practical majors” find themselves in the same boat as their liberal arts major classmates. Still, which majors have proven to land post-baccalaureate employment quicker and with better compensation? Forbes magazine addressed this issue in an article about the 15 most valuable college majors. The magazine’s findings were based on a survey by Millennial Branding, LLC. Without exception, each in-demand major was derived from a mathematical or scientific discipline, with biomedical engineering topping the list. Nearly 70 percent of hiring managers, the article continues, want to see coursework relevant to the available positions. Looking for new employees to hit the ground running, high-paying firms seek candidates with an existing knowledge base in the field. As tuition soars and opportunities shrink, the sociology major appears to be an unprofitable investment.

The Best Liberal Arts Degree

Like other social sciences, sociology has a quantitative component requiring statistical research. Cultivating competence in statistical research immediately makes the liberal arts major more marketable to companies that collect large sets of data to predict buying patterns and spending habits. The differences between social research and market research is not terribly significant allowing sociology majors to market themselves to market research companies. Humanities, on the other hand, rank consistently low on employer surveys. Yet the emphasis on logic, meaning and clarity of thought in such subjects as philosophy and literature make these studies well-suited preparation for advanced degrees in law, medicine or business. Of course, the funds must be available and it requires additional time and education.

Better Matches for the Liberal Arts Major

So, it is reasonable to believe that liberal arts are wise majors if your skills are in demand or your plans include graduate school. While that may apply to many graduates, however, the remainder are still looking for work. For this subset, an open mind is essential. These graduates have demonstrated the ability to see a project through, their degrees being the most evident example. For their efforts, the hiring experts at Monster.com suggest they to join the corps of “generalists.” According to Paul Barada, the site’s salary and negotiation expert, generalists are sought by real estate brokerages, finance companies and sales forces. In exchange for a modest starting salary or commission rate, employers will provide training and resources that help liberal arts students transition from the ivory tower to the labor force.

The Key to Employment for the Liberal Arts Major

In the end, realistic expectations and a willingness to work a job that may not be ideal – for a while, at least – makes a paid position likely sooner rather than later. Liberal arts majors who hold to this truth will discover that compromise and open-mindedness will lead to the independence and self-respect that should come with every diploma.

This article was written by Eric Stratton, chairman of Rush industries, for the team at credit score distributions.

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