Sunday, January 12, 2014

Liberal Arts Graduates: Finding a Place in the Modern Economy

The Seven Liberal Arts
The Seven Liberal Arts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by M. Patrick Quinn

Enthusiastic students of archeology, literature, history, music, fine arts and sociology: you are often told that your degree, although interesting and perhaps intellectually valuable, cannot possibly prepare you for today's economy.

Although there may not be an overwhelming commercial demand for playwrights and historiographers, the skills one acquires at a liberal arts college go far beyond their academic potential.

There are many practical applications for grads possessed of advanced critical thinking and analytic capabilities, excellent communication skills, the ability to work collaboratively, and the imagination to strategize creative solutions.

The Legal Profession

Charismatic courtroom litigator or behind-the-scenes researcher - the legal profession draws students of liberal arts because it simultaneously demands attention to detail and the ability to conceptualize big picture ideas.

If you are good at hunting down information, inferring connections between seemingly disparate events, and can orate with passion and aplomb, there is certainly a place for you in legal.

A good alternative liberal arts college teaches students to think outside the box, to research deeply and to argue convincingly - all essential skills for a variety of legal sectors.

Financial Analyst

Some people hear the word "finance" and immediately think of numbers: calculations, excel spread sheets and complex accountancy. However, whether you're part of a boutique investment firm, the government or a bank, your primary job is to work with words.

Analysts look at the events and trends that impact stocks, make predictions regarding their potential worth, and advise portfolio managers to buy, sell or hold assets. Much of what they do involves the very skill-set liberal arts majors hone for years during their degrees.

Analysis, investigation, research, composition, and argumentation ... and let's not forget creativity. Financial analysts must creatively interpret all that they see, hear and find in order to determine the most exciting investment opportunities.

Professional Writer

No, not just plays, graphic novels and short-stories - although if you can make a living writing these genres, then by all means pursue it. For most small liberal arts college grads, becoming the next critically acclaimed author hardly constitutes a practical career path.

However, a highly marketable ability most humanities and social science students have in common is their ability to grasp complex concepts and articulate ideas in creative ways.

Journalism has a place for strong writers as do several other employment sectors. Marketing companies and ad agencies need fast, thorough, creative content writers.

More and more organizations need competent bloggers to draw traffic to their web sites, and will supply regular freelance opportunities to talented candidates.

To find their place in today's economy, liberal arts majors need only read between the lines and think outside the box - skills they already have in good supply!

Visit Shimer College for more information about studying at an alternative liberal arts college.

Patrick Quinn is a Copywriter at Higher Education Marketing, a leading web marketing firm specializing in Google Analytics, Education Lead Generation, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Marketing, and Pay Per Click Marketing, among other web marketing services and tools.

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