Trying to decide what course to study at university can sometimes seem impossible. Do you study a degree that will lead to a secure career, or follow your passion and hope everything falls into place?
You might be tempted to choose a degree you know will open doors to a hefty pay packet without much consideration to how much you enjoy it. You’re paying thousands of dollars in tuition fees, dedicating years of your life and carving out a whole new livelihood, so of course you want the most from it.
But maximising your degree is not as easy as it once was. The restructuring of the economy in Industry 4.0 means a successful career depends more on adaptable skills, creative innovation and critical problem solving, rather than just higher education within a specialist field.
In fact, according to tech powerhouse Dell, 85 percent of jobs that will exist in 2030 do not yet exist. A further 800 million jobs are set to be replaced by automation. With this in mind, how can a career-focussed degree prepare you for the dynamic economy you’ll be entering?
It’s estimated that today’s students will have over 12 jobs in their lifetime, since the current baby-boomer generation hold an average of 11.5 jobs in their lifetime, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics. It’s assumed that millennials will continue this trend.
So how can students prepare for their chosen career changes and the inevitable transformation of the economy? If studying for a niche industry area could lead to limited opportunities and unemployment in the face of change, what type of programme will help them avoid this?
For forward-thinking students who have these questions in mind, a liberal arts education can tick all the boxes.
Despite being the oldest education system in the world – spanning back to the Ancient Greeks, who considered the liberal arts to be the sign of the most highly-educated people and necessary to be a freely acting citizen – it arguably remains the most progressive discipline conglomerate in the modern day.
The liberal arts offers an interdisciplinary route of study, blending a range of subjects in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and formal sciences. Unlike most university courses, students following a liberal arts path will gain knowledge and expertise in diverse fields, ready to tackle whatever life throws at them after graduation.
Much like the ancient age in which the liberal arts were founded, the 21st century also needs individuals to critically and creatively apply their broad knowledge and interdisciplinary perspective and propel society forward.
By studying modules in the humanities – such as history, literature and philosophy – with social science disciplines including psychology, sociology and economics, and classes in formal sciences, like physics, geography and maths, students will be equipped with essential knowledge on the fundamental workings of our environment, society, humanity and economy.
This diverse range of skills prepares students to implement their knowledge across a wide range of professions and communicate their ideas to different individuals and groups. These dynamic qualities are essential to driving the collaborative economy, giving them the best future prospects possible in the face of change.
Here are three leading schools offering liberal arts education…
Powered by 150 years of academic excellence, Bard College is committed to educating the next generation of global influencers through their love of learning and dedication to making positive change.
“It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as it’s something that’s important and meaningful and fulfilling. The desire to feel fulfilled in life, in a really deep way, is what the school teaches. And I think that’s what my future holds,” said Ben Baum, a student at the college.
At Bard College, students are encouraged to immerse themselves in the academic community while developing the practical skills they need to successfully compete for jobs and apply to graduate school. The College offers a range of courses within the liberal arts, allowing students to flexibly curate a curriculum across 35 programs that explore the fundamental elements of knowledge. Bard faculty are innovative in their development of curricula and design multidisciplinary courses which reflect the originality of the college while being highly applicable to life after an undergraduate degree.
Opportunities to use the Bard education to effect change as an undergraduate student exist throughout the Bard Network, which includes Bard’s five international campuses and partnerships in St Petersburg, Berlin, Budapest, Bishkek and Palestine as well as its eight Bard High School Early Colleges and the Bard Prison Initiative. In fact, many of these programs were started by Bard students with the goal to reform secondary and higher education in under resourced areas and to enroll diverse communities in the college’s liberal arts philosophy for the long term, not the short term.
Bard College believes in the power of education as a change maker and will continue to find new ways to engage the next generation of Bardians from all over the world.
Split across two stunning campuses in Maryland and New Mexico, St. John’s College offers the purest form of liberal arts education to students looking for the most intellectual and rigorous college experience in the United States.
The liberal arts curriculum explores dozens of academic subjects, and unlike most colleges, St. John’s does not force students to concentrate or major in any one subject. Instead, students have the freedom to explore the myriad connections between literature, science, philosophy, maths, music, language, and more in classes that are entirely interdisciplinary. ‘Life doesn’t have majors, so why should St. John’s?’ is a common expression at the college.
Within these interdisciplinary classes, students at St. John’s have vigorous discussions about great books. Every class is a discussion with 20 students or fewer, and every class is based on reading original thinkers in the subject.
With more than 20 countries represented on campus, this is the ideal institution to instil a global perspective, not only through wide-ranging content but through the individuals within the community itself.
“As they participate in lively discussions and throw themselves into the activity of translating, writing, demonstrating, conducting experiments, and analysing musical compositions, St. John’s students learn to speak articulately, read attentively, reason effectively, and think creatively,” the college explains.
Thanks to this innovative experience, a recent article described St. John’s as “the most forward-thinking, future-proof college in America.”
Located on a 1,000-acre campus in New York state, Skidmore college integrates a thoughtful environment with thought-provoking academics.
Degree programmes at the college are committed to combining theoretical knowledge with creative expression, encouraging students to develop an interdisciplinary perspective with creative flair.
The vast selection of majors and minors open to undergraduate students promotes a wealth of educational exploration, as students can build their programme to follow their passions and interests.
Both mind and body are nurtured at Skidmore College, as students are encouraged to develop their expertise beyond the classroom through a comprehensive athletics programme. With opportunities to get involved in baseball, basketball, tennis, lacrosse, swimming, hockey, horse
riding, soccer and softball, students can embrace their extracurricular interests alongside their degree.Here, learners also have the chance to live within a close-knit academic community with student accommodation located onsite. This fosters a family-like feel away from the hustle and bustle of New York City, while still being easily accessible to major US districts.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International