At some point in time, almost every liberal arts graduate is asked the question, “but what are you going to do with that degree?” In today’s reign of specialized education, graduates with a major in the computer sciences, engineering, or accounting often find more success immediately after college than liberal arts graduates. While this might be the case, liberal arts graduates, such as those from Christendom College, have a better chance at success in the long run, according to a new story from the Wall Street Journal — all thanks to their abilities to think broadly and communicate effectively.
Author George Anders details this often overlooked phenomenon in his story “Good News Liberal Arts Majors: Your Peers Probably Won’t Outearn You Forever,” discussing how liberal arts graduates fare better over time than their peers.
“Over time, liberal-arts majors often pursue graduate degrees and gravitate into high-paying fields such as general management, politics, law and sales, according to an analysis by the Association of American Colleges & Universities, a trade group representing more than 1,350 schools. Once people reach their peak-earnings ages of 56 to 60, liberal-arts majors are earning an average $66,185, the association found. That’s about 3% ahead of the earnings pace for people with degrees in vocational fields such as nursing and accounting,” writes Anders.
Initially, graduates with specialized degrees, such as nursing or accounting, might make more than a liberal arts graduate. But in the long run, liberal arts graduates make more than both, sometimes by $10,000 or more a year on average.
Looking at the top 10% earners for every discipline, the story becomes even more remarkable. While the best computer science majors achieved lifetime earnings of at least $3.2 million, philosophy majors achieved $3.46 million and history majors achieved $3.75 million — a huge win for those that espouse the value of the liberal arts degree.
Why are liberal arts majors so successful in the long run? The answer lies in the traits they learn in school, according to s recent survey of 180 companies done by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Of the top five traits they listed as the most important on a resume, four of them were hallmarks of a liberal arts education: teamwork, clear writing, problem solving aptitude, and strong oral communications. Because of these traits, businesses will often make a long-term investment in hiring a liberal arts graduate over a specialized graduate, expecting them to be eventual leaders in the company.
“It’s easier to hire people who can write—and teach them how to read financial statements—rather than hire accountants in hopes of teaching them to be strong writers,” said Liz Kirschner, head of talent acquisition at Morningstar Inc., a Chicago investment-research firm, in the Wall Street Journal Story. Morningstar is noteworthy for hired a large number of humanities and social-sciences majors since its founding.
Today’s booming tech companies are especially likely to hire liberal arts graduates, according to Anders. While computer sciences graduates can do well in the short term, liberal arts graduates have the abilities to think broadly and communicate effectively — skills that allow them to create new ideas, challenge old ones, and shake up the status quo for the benefit of a company.
According to LinkedIn, 10% of all liberal arts majors head into tech-sector jobs, to work in sales, marketing, and project management or business strategy. These are the fields that help a company run, remain and grow in popularity, and stand out from the growing crowd of tech companies around the world.
The liberal arts education that Christendom College provides for its students prepares them for a lifetime of success, giving them the soft skills that separate them from the pack and help them become the leaders that companies strongly desire. This fact can be seen across America and the world, as Christendom’s graduates find great success as CEOs, doctors, salesmen, marketers, lawyers, and more.