The Value of a Liberal Arts Education
From Silicon Valley to Wall Street, from nationwide surveys to iconic CEOs, employers
say they want to hire grads who can think critically, communicate clearly and solve
They agree these skills, provided by a liberal arts education, matter more than what
students choose as their undergraduate major.
Learn more at www.liberalartspower.org, or check out the executives' opinions and studies below.
Hedge Fund Manager Reveals Why He Loves Hiring Liberal Arts Majors
"Students of history and literature are more trained to understand the existence of
multiple perspectives and to engage with them, and so can often more accurately understand
the human dynamics that drive stock market flows," said Daniel Rasmussen, founder
of Verdad Fund Advisors. This is why he exclusively hires liberal arts majors for
his undergraduate internship program.
Liberal Arts Education Can Lead to Career Success
Knoxville News Sentinel: According to the Department of Labor, professionals will have more than 10 jobs before
they are 40 years old. So success is more than just getting a job; it's having the
tools to build a lasting career over a lifetime. Regardless of their major, liberal
arts graduates have the diverse skill set that today's employers seek.
Scientific American: STEM Education Is Vital—But Not at the Expense of the Humanities
The need to teach both music theory and string theory is a necessity for the U.S.
economy to continue as the preeminent leader in technological innovation... Apple's
Steve Jobs once declared: "It's in Apple's DNA that technology alone is not enough—that
it's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields
us the result that makes our hearts sing."
U.S. News University Directory: Study Links Liberal Arts to Success in Life
A study released this year showed adults with a liberal arts background had a 30-100%
increased chance of having positions of leadership. It also found a higher likelihood
of satisfaction and happiness among those who as undergraduates discussed issues with
those who disagreed with them and had in-class discussions on varied viewpoints –
all hallmarks of a liberal arts education.
Will a Liberal Arts Education Pay Off?
College graduates earn $1 million more over their lifetimes than those with just a
high school diploma. And in its first-ever college ranking, The Economist named Illinois Wesleyan graduates as top earners – with $54,600 median annual earnings
compared to the average college graduate’s $42,751.
Forbes: Why Tech's Most Valuable Teacher Is A Classics Major
Business savvy was folded into a liberal arts education for Tim O'Reilly, who has
built a formidable training institution for software engineers. "More broadly, all
it takes is a quick scan through the job ads to see how useful a liberal-arts education
can be — even in our tech-hungry society."
What You’ve Been Told About Picking a College Major is Probably Wrong
Expert advice: "Just pursue your passion. Employers prefer to hire people who have
decision-making, organizational and planning, problem-solving, writing and communication
skills" – skills best learned in liberal arts programs. "Major in what interests you
most and what you are best at." Also: There are "dramatic differences between the
'sticker price' and the tuition and fees families actually pay."
The New York Times: Starving for Wisdom
The humanities enrich us, in wisdom, understanding, and our pocketbooks. "A broad
liberal arts education is a key pathway to success in the 21st-century economy....
The economic return to pure technical skills has flattened, and the highest return
now goes to those who combine soft skills — excellence at communicating and working
with people — with technical skills."
Weighing the Cost of Public vs. Private Colleges
A high school guidance counselor advises families to look past the sticker shock of
private schools and consider their more generous financial aid packages and the much
greater likelihood of graduating within four years.
I Will Hire You for Your "Useless" Degree, If...
In the interests of hiring managers who want their companies to thrive, how you think
is more important than what you know. A so-called "useless" degree can teach you to
observe and understand patterns and be forward thinking.
Critics of the Liberal Arts Are Wrong
Yes, science and tech are important, but a congressional report shows that employers
prize a more broadly-based education that has taught them to write well, think critically,
research creatively and communicate easily.
Forbes: Employees Who Stand Out
The ability to think, to conceptualize and to come up with creative ideas separates
top performers in their careers, according to CEO Steve Sadove. These traits are hallmarks
of a liberal arts education.
More than a Major: What Employers Want
In a national survey, 80 percent of employers agree that – regardless of their major
– all college students should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences.
When the Cost of College Stops Going Up
Hamilton Place Strategies set out to determine when the cost of a college education
is no longer worth the investment. Their answer: not until the year 2086, if tuition
reaches $181,000 per year. Up to that point, a college degree brings a solid return.
In a "chArts & Sciences
" infographic, Phi Beta Kappa has compiled quick stats to illustrate why America must
conﬁrm the life-long value of a broad-based education, which expands opportunity and
drives ingenuity and innovation.
CEO Advice: "Get a Liberal Arts Degree
Edgar M. Bronfman, the former CEO of Seagram Company, Ltd., believes the work place
of the future requires adaptable minds. "There is nothing that makes the mind more
elastic and expandable than discovering how the world works," he writes.
Best Education Not Closely Tied to One Job
A rigorous education will ensure that students are prepared not just for their first
jobs, but also for their second jobs, and especially for those kinds of jobs that
do not yet exist.