No job offers yet. I guess there’s still time. In the meantime, I question if I made a mistake with my liberal arts degree. Would I have been better off getting a specialized or vocational degree? Would I look good in plumber overalls? Hell yea!
Liberal Arts degrees provide students with an overall education. It prepares them not just for their career, but for the world. No one likes being forced to take Intermediate Statistics or Child Psychology if they are a biology major; however, by knowing more than their core subject, they are better equipped to be a well-rounded citizen.
Trade schools or universities with no general education component prepare students for a specific career track. Examples are art schools, air conditioner repair certificates, and vocational programs at community colleges. Rather than expend energy on classes that have nothing to do with their future, students enroll in courses with a stronger focus on their major.
When families and students are questioning the high cost of college, it is no wonder they may gravitate to a program they think will guarantee them a job upon graduation. As an advisor on the side (my school lets us dabble in a variety of other departments for additional experience), several parents have asked me “which program will guarantee my son a job?” My answer is a variation of, “I have no idea”.
I chose to be a teacher, a purveyor of knowledge, a holder of an education diploma. Why? In part, because I was told there would be a HUGE number of teachers retiring by the time I was ready to enter the work force and the anticipated need was overwhelming. Obviously, thanks to budget cuts, the strains on our economy, and veteran teachers who cannot afford to retire, the demand for teachers has dried up.
Frustratingly for some, our nation’s higher education system is based on a liberal arts curriculum. However, as some schools are finding out, students would rather earn a degree they will use and will garner them employment, and they are flocking to those programs instead of the traditional ones. I am a supporter of liberal arts, but, I also understand students need to work. They need to cover rent, save for the future, and pay back student loans.
So, what is the answer? Do we forgo the liberal arts program in exchange for a more specific curriculum designed only to provide a vocational education? Will this give our students a fighting chance at landing a job after crossing the graduation stage? Or will it lead us to be a nation filled with trained people, but an uneducated citizenry?