Commentary: Liberal arts degrees offer more than meets the eye

If you are a student in the college of liberal arts and you have not yet been given “the talk,” then you should probably prepare yourself.

Do not worry. It’s not as bad as it seems. Yes, it can be uncomfortable at times. Yes, your parents may not fully support who you are. And yes, you may not always be the first one to get a call back from that very important someone.

But unlike your friends in the college of business, your chances of scoring the big one may not look too good. But you have to remember you are not in this to get right on top. You may have to start on the bottom first and show them how hard you can work.

So before this goes any further, take a deep breath and remember, there are jobs out there for you, too. Some people may just have a clearer direction than you.

For example, business graduates can be released into the work force like fresh fleet vehicles off a factory line ― finely tuned and perfectly geared for the right job. These are the safe choices that parents want for their children because they give them a benefits package, respectable starting salary and opportunity for advancing.

The modern push, however, is for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related degrees so the younger generations can lead the charge in emerging industries and fields. For our math and science-focused peers this is not a problem, but people majoring in the humanities may be closed out from growing fields.

The fact is, being a humanities student in a STEM-driven world is not easy. The humanities are now taking a back seat to any career path with the words “engineer” or “developer” slapped onto the back of it. The future of America needs more biomedical researchers, theoretical physicists, IT gurus and mathematical juggernauts to make the greatest strives in human technological development.

But does that mean that careers in music, art, literature, philosophy, communication and social sciences are becoming antiquated?

No, not necessarily. As technology changes, especially communication devices and platforms, so do the types of jobs that are well-suited for liberal arts students. Some of these jobs and potential careers include intelligence or research analyst for history majors, to communication specialist and marketing coordinator for English majors, according to a 2016 article in Forbes Magazine.

Students majoring in a social science field may not find jobs that are directly related to their area of expertise, but they are still qualified for many positions. Majors like sociology, history, psychology and others teach people soft skills, such as how to communicate with and understand people of various backgrounds, and hard skills, such as conducting and presenting research.

Forbes Magazine defined a distance difference between STEM-focused careers and liberal arts careers, saying the former can provide a higher salary, while the latter has a wide variety of job openings to look through.

So if you are a liberal arts student, especially in the humanities, do not listen to people who say you are wasting your time pursuing a pointless degree. The trick is using your education to recognize the skills you have and what jobs are looking for those skills.

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