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Career opportunities bright for liberal arts graduates


Friday, January 24, 2014

In recent years, stronger emphasis has been placed on the practicality and value of bachelor's degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, subjects. While college-bound students should consider the job market when choosing a college major, they should not dismiss majors in the humanities or liberals arts, which some view as being limited in terms of postgraduate employment prospects. In fact, Inside Higher Ed has reported that according to a recent study, liberal arts graduates often fare better than some might assume.

Surprising results
Researchers at the Association of American Colleges and Universities examined the job prospects, earning potential and level of employment of liberal arts graduates using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. After assessing these criteria among liberal arts majors and those of other fields of study, the researchers concluded that this demographic often earned as much, if not more, than their peers in professional and pre-professional fields and experienced similar levels of employment.

"That's a myth out there — that somehow if you major in humanities, you're doomed to be unemployed for the rest of your life," Debra Humphreys, a co-author of the report and vice president for policy and public engagement at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, told the news source. "This suggests otherwise. That sort of journey to professional success is more of a marathon than a sprint."

Raising awareness
According to educational blog Marketplace Education, part of the problem is that many humanities and liberal arts subjects are seen as inferior to other credentials in terms of employment prospects and earning potential. Dispelling the myths about the value of a liberal arts degree is one of the Council of Independent Colleges' top priorities.

To counter common misconceptions about the practicality of a liberal arts education, a Twitter profile has been set up by the organization using the handle @SmartColleges to offer real advice and guidance about this field of study.

"We really felt that we needed to speak out," Georgia Nugent, a senior fellow at the Council of Independent Colleges, told the news source. "Because so much, what I call 'dis-information' is being circulated to the public. Like philosophy and poetry majors you will never earn as much as someone who studies accounting, or nursing."

Whether more students will enroll in liberal arts degree programs or not remains to be seen. However, if this research is any indication, pursuing a liberal arts qualification could be a better investment in the future than many students realize.

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