Friday, July 13, 2012

Liberal Arts & Jobs

Higher education as it currently exists is a strange beast.

Students come to us wanting jobs (a completely reasonable desire).  They think that the best way to get jobs is to be trained for a particular job (a reasonable, though I'd argue, false belief).  Those of us in the humanities argue that our classes are 'practical' because they teach students the very skills that employers want (and citizens, future parents, etc. need) — how to ask questions, how to think critically, how to listen to others well, etc.  But, students, shockingly, aren't convinced.

So, here's my plan: Provide for students a serious, rigorous liberal arts education — with equal emphasis on all aspects of liberal arts: science, social sciences, humanities & arts.  I am absolutely unapologetic about that.  BUT, add to this, from the moment the students step onto campus serious, on-going conversations about how careers, what there is, how to get them, how to succeed.

I'd say everyone should in addition to the rigorous liberal arts education students should get the equivalent of a minor in a professional degree (business, journalism, etc.).  I'd also say that the emphasis on majors should be vastly downgraded.  If there are majors, there should be limit on the number of credit hours that can be required in a major.  And, students can only major in one field.

This way students get the rich intellectual foundation that they need but also get a skills based 'package' to leave with.  Supplement this with constant conversations and support for getting jobs (including but not limited to internships).

There we go.

Next problem?

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