A friend is doing well without a university degree. She wonders, “Am I missing anything?”
We should address the cost of higher education. Let’s respect academic and vocational choices alike. Our economy and democracy need both.
But if you’re going to pursue a traditional degree with substantial "gen ed" requirements, be open to its potential beyond job training.
Students ask: “How will I use my degree in life?” Outside the essential financial concern, asking how an experience will be “used” suggests one need only hop on the right conveyer belt.
Such a limited scope falls short of American principles that reward versatility and visionary entrepreneurism. Humanities degrees, for example, open vocational doors because employers seek knowledgeable communicators who can quickly adapt their skills.
And these traits transcend the workplace.
An ideal liberal arts education imparts much knowledge, but it isn’t just selling an information upload. If receptive, you can discern a calling from the guidance of experts from a variety of fields.
Vision expands to see possibilities once hidden. More importantly, you gain the confidence to make mistakes in order to progress. You’re trained to notice ways various social, cultural, and economic systems affect each other, facilitating habits for life-long improvement.
Would I say my friend was “missing anything”? Maybe it’s the viewpoint from which to see what else is out there and how she forms a part of it. This is an outlook a good liberal arts education aims to provide.
I’m Bill Gahan, and that’s my perspective.