Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Make Liberal Arts A Successful College Major Choice

Forget the war on liberal arts! Liberal arts majors can make successful college majors. Follow the basic rules of a good career decision and plan ahead with these 10 actions:
  1.  Know what liberal arts majors are, their benefits and challenges;  
  2. Learn how you can benefit from Holland’s Theory, Holland’s college major environments, and the value of a close personality-major match. [Research shows it leads to success in college and greater career satisfaction];
  3. Get a better sense of yourself, your interests and goals by doing the activities we recommend in “How to choose a career”;
  4. Be job skills smart by filling in any gaps in your Foundation Skills during college;
  5. Crossover to lesser known fields to develop skills and knowledge from business, finance, computer proficiency, and statistics.  You can do that through volunteer work, coursework, and internships.  No excuses anymore – MOOCs make it possible to take free classes on your own time without the penalty of poor grades on your transcript;
  6. Combine an arts and humanities major with another more technical, career-oriented major that interests you in a growth industry like healthcare or information technology;
  7. Use LinkedIn Alumni to help broaden your knowledge about what graduates with liberal arts majors are doing with their degree. I guarantee you'll get some ideas;
  8. Decide on whether to go to graduate school with particular career goals in mind, based on real research based on informational interviews with current grad students and grad school grads, not hearsay.
  9. Begin networking as soon as possible. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to “be someone” to network. It is also not limited to job search – in fact, it’s better to network before you need a job. Bonus: you’ll simultaneously strengthen Foundation Skills.
  10. Make sure you are taking advantage of all the career services and academic advising resources your college or university offers.  I see a few complaints about what schools don’t do to help graduates. But the reality is, many students don’t take advantage of available services, they let one dissatisfying experience stop their momentum, OR they don’t take the initiative. These things all happened to me at one time or another – but I didn’t let them stop me. Don’t let them stop you either.

You might also find helpful:
Download this PDF to see popular myths about liberal arts majors debunked, courtesy of Seattle Pacific University’s Career Center. It’s great advice.
Graduate School in the Humanities: Just don’t go, the Chronicle
"Not all College Degrees are Created Equal", PDF report from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce
Top-Paying Liberal Arts Majors in 2012, National Association of Colleges and Employers

1 comment:

Malcolm Evans said...

Great post here, Juliet! I just tweeted this, I think sometimes students are a little worried about liberal arts degrees, especially at preprofessional schools, but your points should mitigate those fears!