Value of a Liberal Education

When considering the value of any type of education, many people wonder first of all whether it will lead to a satisfying, well-paying job. In this respect, there is no doubt 鈥 a liberal education is an excellent personal investment. Although specialists and technically-trained workers will always be needed, employers are saying emphatically that they need well-educated generalists who are flexible, creative, curious, and capable of seeing the broader picture. Employers in business, industry, government, health care, and other sectors are looking for people who have learned how to learn, people with excellent communication and teamwork skills -- in brief, they are looking for well-rounded, liberally educated people.

The bottom line? Studies show that university education is an excellent investment in general, and that liberal arts graduates in particular have lifetime earnings as high or higher than graduates of other programmes.

For Society

From a broader perspective, liberal education is valuable because a democratic society needs citizens who can think for themselves and can participate in the improvement of that society. We need to be able to understand, in a critical and independent way, the issues and structures in which we are immersed. Liberal education contributes to this understanding by making us aware of the historical and cultural contexts of modern life. Students educated in the liberal arts recognize the issues that confront us, as citizens of a democracy, here and now.

For Individuals

From an individual perspective, liberal education is valuable because it enables personal growth and the cultivation of our human individuality. There is, after all, more to life than a career, no matter how satisfying that career might be. As individuals, we also need the intellectual and emotional nourishment provided by the creative arts 鈥 theatre, music, literature, art. Liberal education aims to help us understand and appreciate cultures and culture in the widest sense. As such it contributes to the development of well-rounded individuals with a depth of human understanding and a high degree of personal satisfaction. Employers, in turn, put a high value on well-rounded individuals because they are the ones who make the best informed, the most "human" judgments. The value of a liberal education, in short, is that it enhances your prosperity, your society, and your humanity.