Professors say liberal arts offers broader education


Claire Trammel

Spanish and Portuguese professor Jill Robbins speaks on the issue of where certain majors will lead students after graduating in Benedict Hall on Wednesday.  She believes that liberal arts majors give students experience and insight that may be applied in many different fields.

Kate Dannenmaier

The number one regret of college graduates is not getting more work experience during school, while choosing the wrong major came in fourth place, according to a Pew research study.

When asked how they could have better prepared for their careers, 50 percent of graduates said they wished they would have gained more work experience, and 29 percent said they should have chosen a different major, according to the survey.

Spanish and Portuguese professor Jill Robbins said there’s a tendency to think some kinds of majors, such as engineering, have a pathway into immediate employment, and others, such as foreign languages, do not. But she said college is not vocational training.

“It’s scary because a lot of chatter that you hear is narrowly focused on a certain kind of work,” Robbins said. “You don’t want to be that kind of worker; you want to be a worker who can move around and do creative and intelligent things. So turn down the chatter.”

According to sociology professor Penny Green, sociology is one of the most versatile majors, but the challenge both advisers and professors face is how to help sociology students understand the marketable skills they have.

“The final exam [of my applied sociology class] involved searching for a job that they would like to do and then telling me, in the form of a cover letter, why they are uniquely qualified for that job, as well as constructing a resume to help them sell themselves to a potential employer,” Green said.

Robbins said, in addition to certain classes that help prepare students for work, the College of Liberal Arts also has a very strong career services program. Nancy Sutherland, the academic advising coordinator for the Department of History, said most internships and career opportunities for liberal arts students are coordinated through the counselors in Liberal Arts Career Services.

“[The counselors] let students from other colleges use the career services in liberal arts because it’s so excellent,” Robbins said.

Robbins said a liberal arts education offers students a richer intellectual life and a skill set that can help graduates connect and reach out to possible employers.

“The broader your education is, the more you know about different kinds of things; the richer your life is, the richer your possibilities of communicating with other people [are],” Robbins said. “And that opens up all kinds of opportunities for work.”