The world has seen a new push for more “well rounded” employees in today’s workforce.  This quality is often attainable through life experiences and now can be achieved through schooling through the liberal arts programs in colleges.  However the need for more well rounded employees, there has also been a push in colleges to decrease the schools focus on liberal arts and increase the focus on STEM fields.  These opposite factors have professors, students, and parents all confused and this confusion doesn’t need to happen.  The reason we, as a society are pushing for less liberal arts and more STEM is because we aren’t educating ourselves enough on the matter.  Liberal arts educations give students a broader more adaptable education.  Liberal arts give people, with the tools to achieve, the extra skills to really make something of themselves.  It is increasing in value in today’s society and is even more relevant than a STEM education.

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College Freshmen

I believe that there are many benefits to keeping and even increasing our Liberal arts educations available to our students.  Liberal arts classes offer students the opportunity for more interdisciplinary learning.  With STEM classes, students are focused on more skill based, factual, memorization style learning.  With the freedom of liberal arts style classes, students learn multiple skills at once and are encouraged to problem solve and think there way through issues.  Students are often found to be more adaptable to different jobs available in the workforce, far more so than students in STEM fields.  As stated by Edward J. Ray, “Most people will have six to 10 jobs during their careers, and liberal arts majors are the most adaptable to new circumstances.” (Ray) Liberal arts majors tend to be more flexible.    “In a country of polarized politics, a liberal education enables critical thinking and the capacity to put tough issues into a larger context. Such graduates will develop skills to help our country implement solutions rather than simply conduct arguments.”(Ray)  STEM majors seem to be able to focus more so on fact and knowledge and less on the interpretations of facts and skills in dealing with people. “scientists need the same skills as humanists to cut through misleading observations and arrive at a defensible interpretation.” (Christ) Liberal arts skills force STEM majors to think more critically when examining data.  

National Science Foundation

Sometimes people begin to question the relevancy of liberal arts.  They claim that it is not a useful skill in today’s society and that the other fields are more relevant.

         Yet, judging the value of a liberal arts education, even with a purely economic calculus, shows it to be more relevant than ever before. It is no longer news that career trajectories are varied and multiple; that our professional pursuits have distinct chapters over the course of our lives; and that, especially for women, the ability to step off and back on the career track during childbearing years is critical to advancement;…(Christ)

It is hard for me to believe something as important as critical thinking, communication, and creativity can be considered irrelevant.  When these classes and majors and providing so much benefits to society, I can hardly begin to comprehend why it is even a debate to begin with on whether or not we need liberal arts in our schools.

When talking about the questionable other side of the argument, I can bring about the flaws in their major arguments.  The “pro STEM” side of the coin has the major argument that STEM fields make more money.  In fact it has been shown that “one in three Fortune 500 CEO’s are Liberal Arts majors.”  STEM fields do have some of the higher paying jobs like engineering and computing but the liberal arts majors are the ones who are high up in command, making the hard decisions and earning possibly even more.  Again, I’ll talk about the questionable relevancy of liberal arts majors in the world and more specifically the work force.  It is argued that they are irrelevant and unneeded.  This also is incorrect.  Liberal arts majors are actually shown to be in higher of a demand then the overcrowded STEM fields.

summer students BSU classrooms and study areas

Bemidji State Students Studying

There is a paradox in the work force dealing with both fields and what people think we need.  “The prevailing wisdom and research indicate a growing emphasis on and necessity for career-ready degrees such as computer science, engineering and finance – often included as part of STEM disciplines…At the same time, employers readily identify the creative, communicative and problem-solving acumen traditionally associated with liberal arts majors as the most valuable attributes of new hires.” (McNutt) Growing up, we all hear that we should be doctors or engineers, always pushed towards the high paying, over crowded fields.  Listening to our parents, we never go towards the more creative, communications based fields of liberal arts.  Saying you’re a liberal arts major in today’s society has even became something to be laughed at.  We need to change the stigma on liberal arts.  We need to realize that there is major growth going on in liberal arts fields.  One should not simply go towards a STEM field for the money.  Go to whatever field fits you best.  Both educational paths are incredibly useful and relevant, however, the lack of emphasis on Liberal Arts and the exaggerations on STEM fields is a problem.  A world cannot simply have all STEM majors or liberal arts majors.  Yet, if I had to choose one to say that is more useful than the other, I would have to say the liberal arts educational path opens up many more doors than the specialized paths of STEM fields.  Liberal arts leads to overall more well rounded human beings.

Ray, Edward J. “The Value of a Liberal Arts Education in Today’s Global Marketplace.” Huffpost

College. Huffington Post, 24 July 2013. Web. 1 Apr. 2016.

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