Don’t Apologize for your College Major

If you’ve ever been in college, you’ve probably had this conversation:

Random Friend of Your Parents (RFYP): So what college do you go to?

You: Liberal Education University

RFYP: And what are you studying?

You: Anthropology

RFYP: What are you planning to do with that exactly?

At this point, the responses to that question diverge, but typically, people respond with “I don’t know” or “I am planning on doing x instead.”

Why is it that we as a society are obsessed with the supposed path our education is taking us? I object to the question. There is a place for vocational and career-directed education, but to try and impose a career-based mentality on a liberal arts education doesn’t make sense to me. That type of structure completely misses the point of the liberal arts.

A liberal arts education is an education based in gaining general knowledge in literature, languages, philosophy, history, mathematics, sciences, and other areas in order to improve critical thinking skills, written and spoken expression, and life understanding.

What part of that definition requires me to identify what career my major is leading towards?

Obviously, I have a bias here as a liberal arts student, but the point of a liberal arts education is not to prepare you for a particular career. It’s about preparing you to understand problems, solve them, and articulate the solutions in a variety of media.

So what am I planning to do with my music degree? I’m going to solve problems we have not identified and express ideas we have not conceived.

How about you?

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Additional Links

Why liberal arts still matter, especially today by David Brooks was my inspiration for this post. A highly recommended read!

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What advantages and disadvantages do you see in a liberal arts education?  Let me know in the comments.

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