Only 1 in 17 college graduates in the Class of 2017 will earn a degree in liberal arts. According to the National Center for Education Statistics this is the lowest rate since records have been kept (over the past 69 years). Where will our writers, entertainers, philosophers, and creative thinkers come from if those earning college degrees are shunning a liberal arts education?
Although I don’t believe colleges create people that become journalists, artists, television producers, theater hands, movie actresses, or dancers, those higher institutions of learning certainly nurture and enhance the raw talent and abilities of the young minds that attend their schools. If people are to pursue a career in the media, performing arts, book publishing, and other creative areas, they likely will need to earn a degree that supports that passion.
Instead, we’re seeing a steady decline in people majoring in the liberal arts, where only 6.1% of all college degrees are earned (as of 2014). Some of it is just a reaction to the times – and the new economy.
Technology, security, engineering, health professions, and math are all growing – no, surging – fields of study for college students. Those kids will graduate to fulfill areas in need – and that pay. College loans continue to climb and students can’t pass off their debt as a struggling artist or writer.
What, if anything, could or should be done to stem this tide?
On the one hand, a college degree is a qualification for those seeking many jobs. We have a functional society that has many needs. We can’t all be writers – we need doctors, builders, traffic cops and every imaginable profession. But, to see the fall of the creative class is disheartening.
Who knows, maybe we have a glut of writers and performance artists. There is a shortage in areas like nursing. It would be great if, regardless of what people major in – or what jobs and careers they end up pursuing – students can be exposed to a liberal arts education. Not only would this help grow the skill set of the creative talent pool but it would also raise the level of appreciation for books and the arts by those who eventually earn a living in other fields.
Maybe the fact that more schools are moving to offer more courses and degrees to serve the areas of the new economy is a good thing. We are, as a society, in need of having qualified people to perform the tasks our world requires. And students need to get a degree, not as a hobby, but as a means to earn enough money to become self-sufficient or thrive financially. But as a former English major it saddens me to think that what I had valued so highly three decades ago is now being downsized by our new class of students.
Some question whether college is for everyone, assuming they can even afford to go. Others question if a college degree is enough to navigate the demands of our global economy. Whether one goes to college or majors in the liberal arts – one thing is clear: The key to growing our country is everyone must find a way to always learn and as individuals to always be open-minded. There will naturally be enough writers, artists, and performers because nothing will stop those with talent and passion and drive to succeed at living out the potential of their gifts. But if colleges continue to turn out fewer and fewer graduates of the liberal arts we will see a decline in our cultural literacy.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs