Liberal arts majors are in luck. According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, employers are eager to hire liberal arts graduates, with employment rates and average salaries higher than in past years. Such a report backs up recent studies and articles from organizations such as Forbes, revealing a greater desire for liberal arts graduates and the communication skills they can bring to an organization.
In the WSJ story, author Nikki Waller presents data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers that reveals a significant jump in employment rates for Class of 2015 graduates, compared to their Class of 2014 predecessors. That coupled with pay increases, which show liberal arts graduates now making roughly the same amount starting out as business graduates, reinforce the growing notion that liberal arts graduates are just as valuable, if not more so, than their counterparts — a notion that runs sharply in contrast to the consensus presented by many media outlets.
“Behind the numbers is a growing desire among employers for hires with strong communication skills,” explains Waller. “After complaining that new hires’ soft skills are not up to par, ‘employers may be reconsidering how they’re approaching recruiting college graduates, and may not be so focused on hiring a particular major.”
This desire for graduates with stronger communication skills is seen industry-wide, as companies now often find specific majors, such as computer-science majors, coming into jobs with strong computer skills but lacking the soft skills needed to truly succeed. Liberal arts majors, on the other hand, learn these soft skills from their well-rounded education, giving them an edge that is attractive to employers, according to Waller. English majors in particular are now bringing in bigger paychecks, with starting salaries rising 14.3% over the past year.
While this story in the Wall Street Journal calls these trends recent, the fact that English majors find great success in a variety of career fields is nothing new for graduates of Christendom College. Alumnus Sean Kay (’97), for example, graduated with an English degree and is now a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. There, he is responsible for managing the endowment funds of Williams and Dartmouth Colleges, along with the world’s largest: Harvard University’s $35 billion endowment.
“The time I spent at Christendom enabled me to earn a valuable liberal arts degree, taught me intellectual discipline and effective work habits, and helped me to prioritize the important things in my life. Many students in American colleges and universities today acquire a narrow, overly specialized education, but employers and graduate schools are actively seeking well-rounded, liberal arts undergraduates. A Christendom degree does not prohibit entry into the field; on the contrary, it facilitates success,” says Kay.
With this knowledge in place, liberal arts graduates, such as those from Christendom, should feel a sense of confidence as they prepare to enter the work force, knowing they have something to bring to the table that many students lack in today’s age: the ability to communicate well, to lead, and to think outside the norms of society.