We are witnessing increased challenges to the value of a college degree and particularly the value of a liberal arts and sciences education. I believe that these attacks are unwarranted and ill-informed. To be sure, parents and students want to be assured that their substantial investment in higher education is worthwhile. But, all evidence indicates that an investment in a college degree, including one in the liberal arts and sciences, is both meaningful and valuable.
A recent survey of employers by Hart Research Associates, one of the leading research firms in the nation, confirms the value of education in the liberal arts and sciences. This survey found that:
- 95% of employers surveyed give hiring preference to college graduates with skills that will enable them to contribute to innovation in the workplace.
- 93% agree that "a candidate's demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major."
- Over 90% say it is important that those they hire demonstrate "ethical judgment and integrity, intercultural skills, and the capacity for continued new learning."
- Over 75% want colleges to place even more emphasis on helping students develop critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.
- 96% state that it is important that candidates are comfortable working with colleagues, customers, and clients from diverse cultural backgrounds.
The desired skills and understandings identified by the employers are precisely those that are the hallmark of a liberal arts and sciences education. Clearly, the surveyed employers see great value in hiring employees who have such an educational foundation. Indeed, 80% agree that, regardless of their major, every college student should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences.
Of course, a liberal arts and sciences education has value well beyond the impact on the employability of any single student. The knowledge, understanding and skills that are part of such an education are essential to a well-informed, civil society.
At Nazareth College we provide our students a strong foundation in the liberal arts and sciences that is integrated with professional studies, leading to excellent graduate programs and career opportunities. While some might suggest otherwise, it is clear that employers see great value in such an education.