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Is College Worth the Investment if You are a Liberal Arts Major?

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Is College Worth the Investment if You are a Liberal Arts Major?

  • Yes

  • No


Results are only viewable after voting.

Elias824

Golden Member
Mar 13, 2007
1,100
0
0
That's great that these liberal arts degrees can be used to enrich your life, but why on earth should the government be paying for you to enrich your life. The world would be far worse off with no science and business majors then it would with no liberal arts majors. Most people I know with liberal arts degrees are awash in debt and have a hard time finding any job at all. They are far worse off then those I know who never went to college at all. Not only are they worse off financially, but most of them don't even know about philosophy, logic, ethics etc. Maybe money isn't everything, but why are these guys always bitching about money and whining how they can't find a job.
 

shortylickens

No Lifer
Jul 15, 2003
78,106
11,132
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That's great that these liberal arts degrees can be used to enrich your life, but why on earth should the government be paying for you to enrich your life. The world would be far worse off with no science and business majors then it would with no liberal arts majors. Most people I know with liberal arts degrees are awash in debt and have a hard time finding any job at all. They are far worse off then those I know who never went to college at all. Not only are they worse off financially, but most of them don't even know about philosophy, logic, ethics etc. Maybe money isn't everything, but why are these guys always bitching about money and whining how they can't find a job.
Thats what I'm trying to say. Knowledge is wonderful but education costs money. If you just wanna know stuff, go to library and read for free.
Get on educational sites and actually do something useful with your internet.
 

ModerateRepZero

Golden Member
Jan 12, 2006
1,572
5
81
To me, this is one of those broad brush descriptions. Liberal Arts is a very broad category and one needs to look specifically into the different areas and make a value judgement at that point in time on whether or not it would present a worthwhile investment. But on the whole, Liberal Arts is still a degree that has employment opportunities and demand. You just may want to rethink blindly stepping into a discipline in the department.
Well said. The value of a liberal arts education is supposed to be in making a well-rounded person, writer and critical thinker. Not everyone with a liberal arts degree will have all of those traits, and someone who majors in Women's Studies will not necessarily be the same as someone who had an economics major. But part of "marketability" is the skills and perspective/focus that you offer to a (potential) employer. You can be a bioethicist even if your medical knowledge is solid but not spectacular.
 
Oct 30, 2004
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Dude, here we are with Chinese and Indian and their army of engineers taking all US jobs and you are saying the US needs less education?
They're taking the jobs because we either sent the jobs to them or decided to hire foreign engineers on work visas instead of hiring Americans.
 
Oct 30, 2004
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How is this at all relevant to the decision an individual should make on his career?
It affects the probability of obtaining a return-on-investment. For example, you might be cut out to be a great lawyer, but if entry-level jobs are scarce and hard-fought for and if there is a huge oversupply of people with JD degrees then you might want to reconsider. Also, the amount of compensation you receive per unit of hour worked and effort expended has decreased. So you really have to wonder whether the gamble that you'll be able to obtain an entry-level position in the field and showcase your skills (for what might be a real shitty quality of work-life) is worth it.

However, my comment was directed at public policy in general and to point out that the problem is that we have more people going to college than need to go to college.
 
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Oct 30, 2004
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Interesting - Georgetown did a similar study in 2010 and came up with a nearly identical number. They also found that we would fall short of the required number of degrees by about 3 million people:
Ummm...what business is Georgetown in? Oh that's right! Georgetown makes money by selling college education and now they're claiming that the economy needs more people with college degrees and that we have a shortage of college graduates. A business fraudulently misleading the public in order to make a sale? Who'da thunk it!
 
Oct 30, 2004
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My younger daughter's history degree got her a really nice scholarship to Law School. She got the history degree with scholarships.
Boy, you and she are in for a real eye-opener when you find out what's actually going on in the severely over-glutted legal profession. You should direct her to these links so she knows what's coming.

http://InsideTheLawSchoolScam.blogspot.com (written by a law prof)
http://www.JDUnderground.com
http://lawschooltuitionbubble.wordpress.com/
http://www.jdscam.blogspot.com
http://butidideverythingrightorsoithought.blogspot.com/
http://flustercucked.blogspot.com/
http://thirdtierreality.blogspot.com/

Speaking of evidence, a lawyer informs me that right here in the little town of Boulder this ad (salary: $32,000 [!] for a full-time litigation associate, experience preferred) generated more than 40 applications in less than a week, several from graduates of top law schools.
 
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woolfe9999

Diamond Member
Mar 28, 2005
7,164
0
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Haven't read the thread. Just responding to the poll. The answer is definitely "yes." If we're talking economically, I don't really know and I'd have to see some hard data. I think if economics was the only reason one sought out an education, then the argument for liberal arts would be weaker. However, since it very definitely isn't the only reason, the entire premise of analyzing it only in that paradigm is flawed.
 

shortylickens

No Lifer
Jul 15, 2003
78,106
11,132
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See based on the responses I am getting many of you guys are perfect examples why college isnt necessary and not always helpful. You arent reading my text. You're skimming it, picking up keywords and based on that you are making arguments against points which dont exist.

I NEVER said people shouldnt go to college. I said they should not be given financial assistance if their degree wont get them a good job afterwards, and I dont want my tax dollars supporting such people. Because of all the trouble the banks keep getting themselves into, I dont want them providing loans to such students. As a separate topic: I think the kiddies should be forced out of Academia for one whole year so they are less inclined to throw away the opportunity of college later on. I am sorry I brought that up cuz its obviously too advanced for the current discussion.
 
May 16, 2000
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See based on the responses I am getting many of you guys are perfect examples why college isnt necessary and not always helpful. You arent reading my text. You're skimming it, picking up keywords and based on that you are making arguments against points which dont exist.

I NEVER said people shouldnt go to college. I said they should not be given financial assistance if their degree wont get them a good job afterwards, and I dont want my tax dollars supporting such people. Because of all the trouble the banks keep getting themselves into, I dont want them providing loans to such students. As a separate topic: I think the kiddies should be forced out of Academia for one whole year so they are less inclined to throw away the opportunity of college later on. I am sorry I brought that up cuz its obviously too advanced for the current discussion.
While I agree with some of what you say, the bottom line is: you don't get to dictate where your tax dollars go unless I can dictate where mine go. Because I'll refuse to fund ANYTHING business or corporate related, anything going to other nations other than rare emergency relief, any military spending not absolutely necessary for imminent domestic defense, etc.

So the question isn't about education, it's really very simple:

Can every single American determine to the penny where and how their tax dollars are spent? It's either yes or no. If yes, I'd like to read your plan on how to do it. If no, you've negated your entire post.
 
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rchiu

Diamond Member
Jun 8, 2002
3,850
0
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Ummm...what business is Georgetown in? Oh that's right! Georgetown makes money by selling college education and now they're claiming that the economy needs more people with college degrees and that we have a shortage of college graduates. A business fraudulently misleading the public in order to make a sale? Who'da thunk it!
Yeah, guy with hit-girl as avatar and online game in his quote says the US economy don't need more skilled labor, don't need more people with good education.

Seriously what's your solution to low ROI on education as an investment? Don't get an education so you get even lower paying jobs and your countries competitiveness as a whole goes down the drain? Yeah, sounds about right from someone whose world revolves around cartoon and games.
 

unokitty

Diamond Member
Jan 5, 2012
3,349
1
0
See based on the responses I am getting many of you guys are perfect examples why college isnt necessary and not always helpful. You arent reading my text. You're skimming it, picking up keywords and based on that you are making arguments against points which dont exist.

I NEVER said people shouldnt go to college. I said they should not be given financial assistance if their degree wont get them a good job afterwards, and I dont want my tax dollars supporting such people. Because of all the trouble the banks keep getting themselves into, I dont want them providing loans to such students. As a separate topic: I think the kiddies should be forced out of Academia for one whole year so they are less inclined to throw away the opportunity of college later on. I am sorry I brought that up cuz its obviously too advanced for the current discussion.
I'll say it.

People that don't know why they want to go to college, probably shouldn't.

Not everyone that is college age is ready to go to college. Which is one of the reasons why I've come to embrace the idea of a Gap Year.

Go visit a different country! Go visit a different continent! Work enough to support yourself. Learn a different language. After twelve months, come home.

I'll guarantee that you will be better educated than your friends that spent the year in bs 101 level college courses. Not to mention that, unlike your friends that are on the student loan train, you will likely have some money in the bank.

college degree !== ability to think

People that go into debt to pursue meaningless degrees, likely will not have the financial resources to pursue the degree that they really want... once they have enough experience and maturity to have figured out what it is that they really want...

Uno
 

theevilsharpie

Platinum Member
Nov 2, 2009
2,323
14
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When people say liberal arts they mean not STEM.

Broadly I would say you have

STEM
Liberal arts
Business

and a few odd balls like nursing and education.
Math and the natural sciences are part of the liberal arts and always have been. If you have to completely redefine what the liberal arts are so that your argument makes sense, you should probably rethink your argument. (Logic is also part of the liberal arts, just so you know.)

To answer the question in the thread title. no. In modern times, the purpose of a college education is to get a degree certifying your competency to an employer. As such, your major should be in a marketable skill (e.g., medicine, software engineering, etc.). Liberal arts study will be a part of whatever major you choose, if not for general education, then for the foundational knowledge of the major. For the folks that study the liberal arts for personal enrichment or whatever, there are much less expensive ways to do that than going to college.
 

berzerker60

Golden Member
Jul 18, 2012
1,233
1
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So apply your logic back to grade school. "I don't want to spend my tax dollars teaching a bunch of kids Shakespeare and American history. Just fund science and math classes, that's all anyone needs to know."

An educated public is a net good for society. Knowledgeable voters capable of critical thinking and questioning assumptions in arguments are good for democracy. There's more to life than business.
 

rchiu

Diamond Member
Jun 8, 2002
3,850
0
0
So apply your logic back to grade school. "I don't want to spend my tax dollars teaching a bunch of kids Shakespeare and American history. Just fund science and math classes, that's all anyone needs to know."

An educated public is a net good for society. Knowledgeable voters capable of critical thinking and questioning assumptions in arguments are good for democracy. There's more to life than business.
Yes, at the very least we need more teacher with solid literature, history and other general skills to teach kids and give them well rounded skills so they can expand on later when they pick a career.

The problem is the ridiculous education cost we have right now. There is just no way to give everyone 6 figure salary to justify that ridiculous cost.
 

unokitty

Diamond Member
Jan 5, 2012
3,349
1
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Math and the natural sciences are part of the liberal arts and always have been. .
While you are free to think that, a little bit of goggling indicates that your thinking is flawed...

For example, lets look at the liberal arts majors offered by Purdue.

http://admissions.purdue.edu/Majors_Programs/majors_college.php?ClgCd=LA

You won't see any math or natural science there.

What about the University of Texas?

http://www.utexas.edu/cola/student-affairs/Academic-Planning/Majors-and-Degrees/Degree-Plans.php

No math or natural science there either...

University of Houston?

http://www.uh.edu/academics/catalog/colleges/las/majors/gen/index.php

Not there either...

By inspection, it appears that, at least, these schools consider Liberal Arts to be the Humanities and the Social Sciences. And my experience is that that is a more conventional definition of Liberal Arts.

Uno
 
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nehalem256

Lifer
Apr 13, 2012
15,670
6
0
While you are free to think that, a little bit of goggling indicates that your thinking is flawed...

For example, lets look at the liberal arts majors offered by Purdue.

http://admissions.purdue.edu/Majors_Programs/majors_college.php?ClgCd=LA

You won't see any math or natural science there.

What about the University of Texas?

http://www.utexas.edu/cola/student-affairs/Academic-Planning/Majors-and-Degrees/Degree-Plans.php

No math or science there either...

University of Houston?

http://www.uh.edu/academics/catalog/colleges/las/majors/gen/index.php

Not there either...

By inspection, it appears that at least these schools consider Liberal Arts to be the Humanities and the Social Sciences. And my experience is that that is a more conventional definition of Liberal Arts.

Uno
It also fits with nearly everyone dividing Liberal Arts majors and STEM majors as being mutually exclusive.
 

unokitty

Diamond Member
Jan 5, 2012
3,349
1
0
While I agree with some of what you say, the bottom line is: you don't get to dictate where your tax dollars go unless I can dictate where mine go. Because I'll refuse to fund ANYTHING business or corporate related, anything going to other nations other than rare emergency relief, any military spending not absolutely necessary for imminent domestic defense, etc.

So the question isn't about education, it's really very simple:

Can every single American determine to the penny where and how their tax dollars are spent? It's either yes or no. If yes, I'd like to read your plan on how to do it. If no, you've negated your entire post.

I think that the question is about both education and about distribution of resources. For example, lets look at: The Ph.D. Now Comes With Food Stamps.

Here is the story of a lady that earned a Ph.D. in Medieval History and is apparently surprised to find herself on welfare. In the article, she describes herself thus:

"I am not a welfare queen," says Melissa Bruninga-Matteau.

That's how she feels compelled to start a conversation about how she, a white woman with a Ph.D. in medieval history and an adjunct professor, came to rely on food stamps and Medicaid. Ms. Bruninga-Matteau, a 43-year-old single mother who teaches two humanities courses at Yavapai College, .... Recipients include growing numbers of people like her, the highly educated, whose advanced degrees have not insulated them from financial hardship.
So, I would put forth the proposition that not all of those government educational loans are productive. Nor, is the funding of people that are going to earn liberal arts doctorate degrees only to go on welfare a good thing.

And while I have no desire to dictate where my tax dollars go, I can say that funding educational programs that produce neither happy nor employable people seems suboptimal.

Uno
 
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theevilsharpie

Platinum Member
Nov 2, 2009
2,323
14
81
While you are free to think that, a little bit of goggling indicates that your thinking is flawed...

For example, lets look at the liberal arts majors offered by Purdue.

http://admissions.purdue.edu/Majors_Programs/majors_college.php?ClgCd=LA

You won't see any math or natural science there.

What about the University of Texas?

http://www.utexas.edu/cola/student-affairs/Academic-Planning/Majors-and-Degrees/Degree-Plans.php

No math or science there either...

University of Houston?

http://www.uh.edu/academics/catalog/colleges/las/majors/gen/index.php

Not there either...

By inspection, it appears that at least these schools consider Liberal Arts to be the Humanities and the Social Sciences. And my experience is that that is a more conventional definition of Liberal Arts.

Uno
Here's a list of the majors in UCLA's College of Letters and Sciences, which is their liberal arts school:
http://www.admissions.ucla.edu/prospect/Majors/lsmajor.htm

UC Berkely has a similar setup:
http://ls-advise.berkeley.edu/major/majorlist.html

Stanford has a similar setup in their School of Humanities and Sciences, which is their liberal arts school:
http://humsci.stanford.edu/departments/clusters/

Same with USC:
http://dornsife.usc.edu/cf/majors-and-minors/majors-and-minors.cfm

Just so this isn't a California thing....

Harvard:
http://www.fas.harvard.edu/home/content/schools-departments-committees

Yale:
http://yalecollege.yale.edu/content/yale-college-experience

UPenn:
http://www.college.upenn.edu/majors

I could go on. I won't disagree with you that some schools split science and math from humanities and social studies (this seems more common to polytechnic universities). However, that's not universal, nor does it mean that the liberal arts are solely humanities and social studies.

If you don't think that studying humanities or social studies is worthwhile, so be it. However, if you're going to question the merits of those fields, then be specific.
 

unokitty

Diamond Member
Jan 5, 2012
3,349
1
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College of Letters and Sciences !== Liberal Arts

School of Humanities and Sciences !== Liberal Arts

While you are free to think differently, I think that had these institutions wanted to refer to their colleges or schools as "Liberal Arts", they would have. The fact that they chose not to refer to them as "Liberal Arts" colleges or schools indicates that they don't think of them that way.

I'll stand by my previous statement.

By inspection, it appears that at least these schools consider Liberal Arts to be the Humanities and the Social Sciences. And my experience is that that is a more conventional definition of Liberal Arts.


If you don't think that studying humanities or social studies is worthwhile, so be it. However, if you're going to question the merits of those fields, then be specific.
If you want to debate the relative values of the humanities or social studies disciplines, you'll have to find someone that gives a damn.

Specific enough for you?

Uno
 
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theevilsharpie

Platinum Member
Nov 2, 2009
2,323
14
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College of Letters and Sciences !== Liberal Arts
http://www.college.ucla.edu/divisions.html
The College's five divisions—Humanities, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, Life Sciences, and Undergraduate Education—encompass 34 departments, 40 specialized programs, and 109 undergraduate majors and graduate degrees that span research and teaching in the liberal arts and sciences.

School of Humanities and Sciences !== Liberal Arts
http://humsci.stanford.edu/departments/
The School of Humanities and Sciences is the foundation of a liberal arts education that will ignite a lifelong intellectual adventure.

While you are free to think differently, I think that had these institutions wanted to refer to their colleges or schools as "Liberal Arts", they would have. The fact that they chose not to refer to them as "Liberal Arts" colleges or schools indicates that they don't think of them that way.
The schools are called "College of Letters and Science" instead of "College of Liberal Arts" because the latter term has historically referred to stand-alone colleges that focus on undergraduate education, as opposed to a university like UCLA that focuses on research or a polytechnic like MIT that focuses on a technical education. Not that it's relevant; the list of majors within the school clearly shows that the school's focus is on the liberal arts.

I'll stand by my previous statement.
I can't even begin to fathom how you can stick to a position so stubbornly that even cursory research proving you factually incorrect doesn't sway you.

Whatever floats your boat, I guess.
 

modestninja

Senior member
Jul 17, 2003
753
0
76
Here are some more examples from the US News National Liberal Arts College Rankings (I grabbed them from the top 12 from different geographic regions):

Williams College:
http://www.williams.edu/depts-programs/

Swarthmore:
http://www.swarthmore.edu/academics.xml

Pomona:
http://www.pomona.edu/academics/majors-and-minors/index.aspx

Carleton:
http://apps.carleton.edu/academics/majors/

Davidson:
http://www3.davidson.edu/cms/x16940.xml

They all seem to offer majors in Math and Science as well as social sciences and humanities. Hell, I even saw Engineering and Comp Sci in a few of them. Every liberal arts college in the country that I've seen has majors in Math and Science and if colleges that call themselves Liberal Arts colleges don't know the definition of liberal arts, then I don't know who does.
 
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nehalem256

Lifer
Apr 13, 2012
15,670
6
0
Here are some more examples from the US News National Liberal Arts College Rankings (I grabbed them from the top 12 from different geographic regions):

Williams College:
http://www.williams.edu/depts-programs/

Swarthmore:
http://www.swarthmore.edu/academics.xml

Pomona:
http://www.pomona.edu/academics/majors-and-minors/index.aspx

Carleton:
http://apps.carleton.edu/academics/majors/

Davidson:
http://www3.davidson.edu/cms/x16940.xml

They all seem to offer majors in Math and Science as well as social sciences and humanities. Hell, I even saw Engineering and Comp Sci in a few of them. Every liberal arts college in the country that I've seen has majors in Math and Science and if colleges that call themselves Liberal Arts colleges don't know the definition of liberal arts, then I don't know who does.
So according to you what would NOT be liberal arts?
 

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