There is a famous statement that is said of Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist: For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible. Although I am not equating the Real Presence with the fact that a liberal arts education is one of the best educations out there for gaining employment, I am saying that there are two groups of thought on the issue, and it is sometimes very hard to bridge the gap between them: the believers and the unbelievers. But I will try.
When someone asks me this question, here’s how my typical response comes out: “What do you want to do when you graduate? What I mean is, what job do you think you will not be able to get if you graduate with a liberal arts degree? The reason I ask this is because our alumni are involved in just about every career field possible (OK, we don’t have any astronauts or circus performers…yet), so there is really no need to worry about the ability to find a job or achieve your ‘dream career’ upon graduation. In fact, I can probably name for you the alumnus or alumna who is doing the job in which you are interested.”
Now, after hearing my little spiel, some look at me with trust and say to themselves: “Wow, he just said that they have alumni doing all kinds of things in all kinds of fields that are unrelated to the majors that they offer here. He would most certainly know whether there is a whole slew of alumni living on the streets, unable to find work, and he would probably not be able to sleep at night if he were sitting there lying to me and all other prospective students about the value of the liberal arts degree. I guess an education at Christendom does prepare you for the workforce, as well as for life. Sign me up.”
And then there are the others. “Man, this guy thinks he can convince me with a few catch phrases and pointed questions? I still don’t believe it. I want to be a software engineer, or maybe an accountant, but then again, maybe I want to be a journalist, a restaurant manager, a dentist, or possibly a computer programmer. How’s this liberal arts degree going to help me do any of these things? Where’s the proof? Show me the money, McFadden.”
Here’s the deal. As I’ve mentioned before (and it is certainly worth repeating):
- Liberal arts students advance more quickly to middle and senior management positions than their colleagues who pursued other fields of study . . . these graduates become employees that are ready to learn (AT&T Management Study).
- The liberal arts are more effective in teaching communication skills, general knowledge and information, an understanding of people, an appreciation of ethical concerns, an ability to organize and prioritize, and vital leadership skills (Fortune 500 study).
- Business leaders value liberal arts grads for their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, strong writing and speaking skills, self-discipline, exposure to diverse ideas, and global perspective (Hobart & William Smith Colleges study).
- Strong communications skills are the single most important attribute a candidate can have – and also the one most lacking among job applicants (Poll of hiring managers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers).
- A broad liberal arts education is preferred for future CEOs – blending knowledge of history, culture, philosophy, and economic policy, with international experience and problem-solving skills (The Wall Street Journal).
- Employers focus on finding graduates with the right skills rather than the right major, as a new employee with the right skills can easily learn the specifics of an industry. Employers desire transferable skills, skills employees take with them to any job, such as written and verbal communication skills, the ability to solve complex problems, to work well with others, and to adapt in a changing workplace – and these are characteristic of a liberal arts education (Survey by National Association of Colleges and Employers).
Also, Christendom graduates do very well on their graduate school entrance exams (LSAT, MCAT, GRE, etc) and go to a variety of graduate schools such as Notre Dame, Harvard, William & Mary, University of Virginia, Oxford, George Mason, and Catholic University.
They earn MBAs, MSEEs, JDs, MDs, PhDs, MSNs, and MAs in things like law, engineering, business, accounting, philosophy, theology, history, political science, architecture, dentistry, medicine, nursing, and everything in between.
Through the Christendom alumni and career network, we are able to help our students prepare for their life after graduation. We aid them in career preparation through talks and workshops, through presentations and meeting with them one-on-one. We help them with resume writing and interview skills; job exploration and graduate school search; alumni networking and job placement. We have a number of companies and organizations who specifically look to Christendom for their next employees.
An interesting thing to think about is this: Most people do not end up working in the career field that they majored in at college. Therefore, picking a specific school to attend because of a specific major that is offered is certainly no guarantee (a 50/50 chance) that you will actually work in that field. The difference with studying at Christendom and majoring in one of our offerings (history, theology, political science, classics, English language and literature, or philosophy…with minors in math, liturgical music, and economics), you can be almost certain that you will not actually work in the field of study of your major.
Out of our close to 1600 graduates, very few are employed in their area of study. But they are broadly educated, and therefore, not limited to one area of employment. They are able to move around from career field to career field, if they wish. They can more easily move up the management ladder. They do not have to go back to school for more training if they choose to change jobs. They can do anything.
Whatever you want to do tomorrow, can be achieved on our campus today. Believe it.