The Program

The Value of Liberal Arts in the Job Market

By A.J. Peters

A lot is said about the value of a liberal arts education, especially here at St. John’s. But often, these discussions revolve around a conception of value that is not grounded in jobs or income. One of the admissions publications, for example, suggests that instead of asking, “Will it help you make a good living?” ask, “Will it help you make a good life?” Of course, that is a worthwhile question and an important distinction. St. John’s has had a tremendous influence on me, and, as trite as it might sound, helps me appreciate life and learning in a way I might not at a different school. And one could certainly attempt to argue that the monetary value of an education is trivial in relation to these more holistic things – to the joy an education can produce. But, nonetheless, college is an expensive endeavour, and we’re not all prepared to roam the streets of Athens barefoot and impoverished in pursuit of a true knowledge. So it’s always nice when the case is made for the job value of a liberal arts degree too. I thought this was a nice little letter to the editor about how non-STEM degrees still help graduates’ careers.

Many of the jobs today are in fields that hadn’t been invented 10 years ago. Most workers today will change not just jobs but careers several times in their lives. What does one need to succeed, even flourish, in such a market? The ability to think creatively, read critically, construct effective arguments using persuasive evidence, write clearly, remain flexible and look at issues with an open mind. These are skills taught best in broad liberal arts settings — even in majors like philosophy or zoology. Source:

The original article (“The Imperiled Promise of College”) is worth a read too – a pointed piece on the current failings of higher education.

So, what do you think? Do liberal arts degrees have a vocational value?



The student writing staff of the johnnie chair blog

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