Asked by Anonymous
Asked on 02 May 2019
this is an interesting question yet a very subjective one. Before I dive in to explore whether it's worthwhile getting a liberal arts degree from an expensive and prestigious university, let me share my personal thoughts which I hope will help you in one way or another. From your question, I'm guessing that you are actually very interested in liberal arts. However due to whatever reasons, maybe because of practicality, you are having second thoughts. I am currently waiting for university to start, and I too, went through that phase of choosing what course I wanted to study. I must say, choosing a course to study was one heck of a stressful and challenging process. The course one is interested in and want to do might not even be possible as they might not meet the admission criteria. That's one... Well, the other reason that made it stressful for me was coz I kept on thinking that whatever course I took in uni was going to decide my career path in the future. If it's going to be this way, I better spend some serious thought on what degree I wanted to pursue!
However, if I could present you the view that whatever you study in university will not necessarily be what you are going to do in the future. Yes you saw that right!
"This guy must be crazy!"
"Like that, then study for what"
Some of you might have these thoughts going through your mind. Now... hold your horses just for a minute and let me explain.
Although I admit that most people end up doing what they study in university, does it really have to be that way? In this article on The Washington Post, it can be seen that only a small percentage of uni grads took up a job that was related to what they were studying in uni.
I reiterate again that I'm not advocating to find a job completely irrelevant to whatever you took in uni neither am I saying that you should definitely find a job not related to what you studied in uni. Instead, I'm just saying that we should not be so narrow-minded and rigid to think that what we study now will be what we do in the future. Why not just take the chance to undergo the training and rigour that different curriculum provides you with, why not do it for the training of the mind. Why not look at the bigger picture and focus on development. Now with whatever I've said, I will attempt to answer your question. Is it really worthwhile? Well, the answer though cliché would be that it really depends what worthwhile means to you. How would you define it being worthwhile. From whatever I've said above, I feel that for a uni course to be worthwhile,
I can emerge a wiser person from it, with added skills that I can apply and these skills I'm referring to include both soft and hard skills (I mean without having skills to apply, studying won't really be that effective in the real world will it? )
To me, I feel that paying abit more for things that actually make a difference like education is okay. Take it as an investment in yourself for the future! So to answer your question, expensive but prestigious, if you can afford it, why not! Prestigious universities might also have better connections and better internship opportunities if I were to be very general about it.
I feel that you must also know where your passion lies. For me, there are some courses that I know it's a no go for me. As much as you want a career in the future that pays well, try finding a balance between what you enjoy doing (passion), what you think you can be good at (capability). Not gonna bother talking about how much money you can earn in the future, as mentioned above ,whatever you study now might not be what you do in the future. Taking things in the present, finding a balance between passion and capability is important as after all, employers are going to look at paper qualifications. Before we move on to career options, let me share some advantages and disadvantages of taking a liberal arts degree so that you can weigh the pros and cons.
The broad knowledge of the wider world will prepare one to deal with complexity, diversity, and change.
Can develop a strong sense of social responsibility
Strong and transferable intellectual and practical skills, such as communication, analytical, and problem-solving abilities
Possess the ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings.
Possess the capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems
Ability to organise research and analytical processing of data
Develops creative thinking, and thinking on one’s feet
Dealing with ambiguity and matters that have no clearcut answers
Synthesising new ideas
Broad and general education covers different areas of thought. They often do not provide a significant depth of experience and study in any one area. There may not be the opportunity to learn and develop any particular technical skills to a proficient level.
Liberal arts graduates then find themselves without the entry level skills to required for professional jobs, since they primarily divulge in the development of what may be referred to “soft skills”
All in all, I started off by offering a different perspective- that what we study in university might not necessarily be what we will do in the future. With that in mind, we should focus on development. I also mentioned that whether it is worthwhile really is dependent on where people built their idea of worth on. For me, I feel that balance between pursuing your passions and being good at it is important. Either extreme is no good. Thus, go find the balance between what can help with your development not neglecting both what you are passionate in and where your capabilities lie. Lastly, the pros and cons can help you validate whether taking liberal arts is a worthwhile decision. Hope this helps and hope you understand where I'm coming from! Sorry if it's abit long hhaha
18 May 2019
My ex-student works as a community manager at a mental health organisation and she interviews would-be interns often. She told me that undergraduates from Yale-NUS college stand out from the rest for having differentiated and out-of-the-norm resumes. As compared to cookie-cutter resumes from other universities. So if undertaking a liberal arts degree won’t put too severe a strain on your family’s Finances, then why not? I believe being exposed to intriguing and novel experiences shapes your mind and does wonders for your confidence like no other.
In an ideal world, we should be able to do as our heart desire and still be able to make a living out of it.
That was the direction the world was moving towards before the market crash in 2008. Then everyone woke up from their idealistic dream.
Not to be a downer here.
To be honest, education is an investment. Can you make enough to pay back the amount to paid for your education. Otherwise your education will be a liability and not an investment.
If your family situation permits it or you are Super talented, go ahead and follow your dream. If not, you need to consider if it is worth going into debt for that few years of enjoying your university life.
On the otherhand, you also need to ask yourself, is it worth paying to study a course you hate just to get a relevant degree? Especially if you think you will not get a good grade?
Lastly, do remember that university is not just about the course you are studying. The most important thing is actually the soft skills that you will learn, eg people skills, building up contacts, etc. These can be learnt regardless of which course you are in.
Hope you don’t feel even more confuse by our comments.
Follow your heart is the best answer.
Prestigious university only get you to interviewers’ room at most, what comes next is how you perform to sell yourself as good and capable person.
Liberal arts can be quite a niche category, might be for jobs with Arts management or in the local art scene ? Maybe a freelancer or something along the lines ?
Not too sure as I am a technology based person. :(