As part of the ongoing debate about affordability, many politicians and policymakers—not to mention parents—are concerned that colleges and universities produce too many students with “soft” learning rather than job-specific “hard” skills. A new study of liberal-arts colleges reveals those grads do just fine in the job market after all, according to a report in Inside Higher Ed.
The study, which was previewed at a recent meeting of presidents of the Council of Independent Colleges, was based on interviews with 500 graduates of liberal-arts programs and 500 graduates from other types of institutions. The grads had been out of school for 10-40 years.
Although a lot of the liberal-arts grads earned less than other majors in their first few working years, it turned out they quickly made up the difference once their careers got going.
“Those who take more than half of their coursework in subjects unrelated to their majors (a characteristic of liberal-arts colleges but not professionally oriented colleges) are 31% to 72% more likely than others to have higher-level positions and to be earning more than $100,000,” the report said.
Perhaps more importantly, the study also found that liberal-arts graduates who engaged in discussions of academic and nonacademic issues during class time and who continued discussions with faculty and fellow students after class were more likely to feel “personally fulfilled” in their lives now and to become leaders, lifelong learners, and community volunteers.