For many years, the public has been hearing the same cry from politicians: liberal arts graduates are doomed to a life of poverty, making the education worthless. According to a new economic study, however, that claim is far from the truth, and the liberal arts instead lead to meaningful economic mobility — a fact further seen in the success found by Christendom alumni over the college’s forty-year history.
As reported in Inside Higher Ed, the new study from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation looks at economic data from graduates of a variety of academic institutions, from elite private colleges to liberal arts colleges. According to their research, the idea that a liberal arts education is worth far less than alternatives is patently false.
“Critics claim that a liberal arts education is worth less than the alternatives, and perhaps not even worth the investment at all,” says the report. “They argue that increasing costs and low future earnings limit the value of a liberal arts education, especially compared to alternative options such as pre-professional programs that appear to be better rewarded in the current labor market. Existing evidence does not support these conclusions.”
The report examines various myths about liberal arts education, pointing out that, while liberal arts graduates sometimes end up in low-paying careers, this often reveals their career interests and market forces, rather than a problem with their degree.
Liberal arts graduates are able to go into a variety of fields after graduation, from business to medical to IT, and so much more. Looking over Christendom’s list of alumni, Tim Halisky is currently the president of RLA Mid-Atlantic, Michele Velasco is the vice president for finance for SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Dr. John Paul Jansen is an internal medicine specialist, Laura Scanlon is an attorney, and Sean Kay is a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Christendom’s liberal arts education unlocks all career doors, according to Kay.
“A Christendom College education opens endless opportunities and confers enormous obligations,” says Kay. “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.”
Phil O’Herron, a neuroscientist who earned his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University, agrees with Kay, and uses his liberal arts background every day in his job.
“A big part of science is being able to see the big picture surrounding an experimental result,” says O’Herron. “A scientist has to fully process all the assumptions that go into a result and then be able to interpret the finding in light of what else is known. I think in studying philosophy and logic at Christendom, I had a lot of practice at analyzing arguments to see if conclusions were justified and, if not, what was missing.”
Liberal arts educations are worthwhile investments for undergraduates and economic data proves it. According to the Mellon Foundation report, which also looked at economic quintiles, 60% of liberal arts graduates end up in the top two quintiles of income post-graduation, even if they started out in the bottom three quintiles.
In terms of graduation rates, liberal arts colleges rank higher than other private institutions as well, according to the report. As a result, the chances of graduating and finding a successful career are higher at liberal arts colleges — meaning they are much more worthwhile than pundits would lead people to believe.
“All the evidence shows that the bashing of liberal arts colleges, and the liberal arts, just isn’t well founded, just isn’t based on evidence,” writes Catherine B. Hill, one of the authors of the report.
For more information on what careers Christendom alumni go into after graduation, click here.
To read the entirety of Inside Higher Ed’s summary of the report, click here.