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The Value of a Liberal Arts Education

A liberal arts education allows students to develop skills that are of great value to them in their personal lives and to employers in the workplace. Dr. Dorsey, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and Dr. Lewis, Assistant Professor of English, spoke with me about the value of a liberal arts education. Their answers were very insightful and highlight why a liberal arts education is so important in today’s age.

Dr. Lewis described the intellectual skills that a liberal arts education fosters and why these skills are important in the workforce. He also talked about the importance of values, which are significant in today’s workforce as companies strive to become more ethical. He says,
 
“Critical thinking, clear writing, and persuasive speaking make or break job interviews and internship applications, and these are the kinds of skills that are fostered in a liberal education. Perhaps more vitally, liberal education encourages people not simply to hold values, but to articulate why they hold them; values are tested, critiqued, and ultimately held not out of convenience, but out of conviction. Intelligence, imagination, and character count in careers and in life; all three are fostered in a distinctive way by the liberal arts.”
 
Dr. Dorsey said something similar: “A liberal arts education allows students to think outside the box, solve problems, and write and communicate well. These skills are valuable to employers of all fields, which allows liberal arts majors to be more creative in formulating a career path.” He says that the skills that liberal arts students possess give them room to be creative in planning for their future.
 
The Career Center’s job is to help each Mount student, no matter what major, to formulate their career path and succeed after graduation. Dr. Dorsey says, “The Career Center is doing a great job of helping students by focusing on their destination, not their major. They are there to help everyone and are doing a great job of supporting the liberal arts program. I encourage students to visit the Career Center early and as often as they can.” Dr. Lewis says of the Career Center,
 
“The ideal relation between the Schools and the Career Center is one of collaboration.  The Career Center should communicate to students the wide variety of career possibilities available, particularly those that are not necessarily connected with their major (a major isn’t a career; why should a biology major discount a career in government if it interests her?).  The Schools, for their part, should encourage students to explore their options and, vitally, take steps to intern or work in an area that looks interesting to them; these experiences are often vital in landing jobs after graduation.  Finally, students need to take initiative: the Career Center facilitates applications, but it does not choose them or write them.  By sophomore year, students should be looking to try out an internship or job that they may be interested in pursuing after graduation; that way, they can apply for and engage in them during their junior or senior years, and will, we hope, have some more clarity upon graduation.”
 
I also talked with Dr. Dorsey and Dr. Lewis about how liberal arts majors can get involved here on campus to build resumes. Dr. Dorsey says, “Liberal arts majors should explore activities that are beyond their major and get involved with anything and everything they can to build their resume. They should pick something they are interested in or enjoy to gain leadership experience and to have fun.” When I asked Dr. Lewis how important it is for students to be involved with their major he said,
 
“I think that involvement in extracurricular activities itself is far more important than having an activity that directly relates to one’s specific major. I’d recommend three kinds of activities: 1. Activities you simply enjoy (for balance); 2. Activities that take you outside your comfort zone (for growth); 3. Activities that put into practice the liberal arts skills learned in the Core: reading, thinking, writing, speaking (Drama, Debate, Mountain Echo, etc.).”
 
Dr. Lewis added, “Earlier this year, billionaire Mark Cuban made headlines by opining that liberal arts majors will be the next hot commodity in the business world. Whether or not his prediction is accurate, liberal education helps develop parts of the human person that are of perennial value, and that can and do distinguish students of the liberal arts in every field and profession.”
 
It looks like employers are seeking employees with a strong liberal arts background! Mount students should embrace their liberal arts education and make the most of it during their four years at the university.