Liberal arts education pays different dividends

To the Editor:

Bob Wilson’s recent column in a local publication condemning a liberal arts college education is full of contradiction and misinformation. The point he tried to make was that today’s very expensive college degree should be focused on a student’s future earning potential. No one can disagree with that.  

Wilson agrees with Gov. Pat McCrory that all college education should be focused on getting a job, not a silly liberal arts degree.

The trouble with that idea is that no one knows what kind of a job he or she will have in 10 years. A Bureau of Labor statistics study reports that the average American worker will change jobs 11 times in his career. Many of these changes involve completely different kinds of employment. So if one goes to college and studies for a particular kind of job, chances are that within a few years that education will be worthless. 

Of course a degree in computer science or medicine will produce great job prospects, but few will become doctors or engineers. The vast majority of future employees will need an education that prepares them for many different kinds of jobs. They will need an education that will prepare them to think clearly, and be able to adapt to whatever jobs are available. That is the definition of a liberal arts degree.

Mr. Wilson can make fun of all the silly courses on “Dogs and People” he wants, but, if you end up working in a veterinarians office that one class (likely a one semester, 3-hour credit elective) might get you a raise. As he says, “The analytical and critical thinker will always win.” His apparent personal definition of “analytical and critical” thinking appears skewed. No, make that contradictory.

In his attempt to take a cheap shot at “liberal” education, he completely missed Gov. McCrory’s point. As a true hard-right ideologue, the governor wants the colleges in his state to produce good reliable worker bees for his corporate funders. Critical thinkers and independent-minded employees are usually more trouble than they are worth. 

Shirley Ches


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