What is a Liberal Arts education and why do you need one?
The Liberal Arts system in the USA is based on an educational approach originally pioneered by the Ancient Greeks. They regarded a general Liberal Arts education as the ultimate mark of an educated person. Today, a Liberal Arts degree program in the USA is broad in scope, covering a range of interdisciplinary subjects across the humanities, social, natural and formal sciences, and can lead to a whole host of career options.
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A History of the Liberal Arts Education
The Liberal Arts were originally those disciplines deemed by the Ancient Greeks to be essential preparation for effective participation in public life. This would have meant being able to participate in public debate, perform military service and serve in court and on juries.
At this time, liberal arts covered three subjects: grammar, rhetoric and logic, known as the trivium. Later, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy were also included, meaning there were seven liberal arts subjects in the liberal arts curriculum.
The aim of a liberal arts education was to ensure people were articulate, ethical and knowledgable in many fields.
Despite its European roots, it is the United States where liberal arts education is most prevalent today.
What Does a Liberal Arts Education Usually Include?
Liberal Arts programs within higher education are still designed to provide a general education and have the same core aims of the traditional liberal arts curriculums; to develop well-rounded individuals who have a general knowledge of a wide range of subject areas, and a wealth of what are now known as ‘transferable’ skills.
They do however enable students to study a much larger range of subjects than would have originally been the case.
There are differences in the particular subjects included in liberal arts programs at different institutions, however the liberal arts spectrum generally covers the following fields:
Humanities subjects generally include art, history, philosophy, foreign languages, music and classical languages.
Subjects included in the Social Sciences are history, psychology, law, sociology, political science, anthropology, economics, geography, business informatics.
Included among the Natural Sciences are astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, archaeology, zoology, geology, and earth sciences.
Mathematics, logic and statistics are all defined as Formal Sciences.
Liberal Arts degrees are often interdisciplinary and many offer students the chance to create their own study path.
The Value of Liberal Arts Education
There are countless benefits to a Liberal Arts education, a few of which are highlighted below.
Benefit #1: Increasingly sought-after by employers
A recent US study indicated that currently, many employers feel that American workers don't have the right set of skills needed to succeed at their jobs. Included in these are soft skills like critical thinking and communication, which are traditionally a focus of Liberal Arts.
Although a professional major like Engineering might teach useful ‘hard’ skills, technical know-how and skills can quickly be superseded. The ‘soft skills’ of a liberal arts degree, however, are generally considered to be skills that you learn for life.
The Accu (Association of American Colleges & Universities) report into Liberal Arts Graduates and Employment, found that over 90% of employers rank a candidate's critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills as more important than their specific major.
Similarly, Udemy's 2020 Workplace Learning Trends Report ranked communication, creativity, and critical thinking among the top-10 in-demand soft skills.
Benefit #2: Higher earning potential
Like the surveys and studies referenced above, a recent report from Emsi and the Strada Institute for the Future of Work, highlighted that employers want the "human" skills gained from a liberal arts education, such as communication, leadership, and problem-solving. It also found that 82% of liberal arts majors held jobs that earned them an average salary of $55,000.
Benefit #3: Preparation for employment across a range of sectors
Liberal Arts students gain knowledge in a far wider range of subjects than if they completed a specialist or vocational degree in a single subject area, meaning they can keep their options open when it comes to choosing which sector within the job market to aim for.
It also means that it can be easier for Liberal Arts graduates to change career if they ever decide they want to take a different direction.
Benefit #4: An Excellent foundation for graduate-level study
Liberal Arts degrees also provides an excellent foundation for graduate study in healthcare, law, business, or other fields. Students with a Liberal Arts background are sought after by graduate schools because they are able to demonstrate an ability to think independently and to learn across a diverse field of studies. With closer contact with professors it is usually much easier for students to acquire the vital personal letters of recommendation they need for acceptance to graduate school.
Benefit #5: Wide-reaching skills for success in life
As well as providing skills which lead to success in education and work settings, a liberal arts education equips graduates with qualities that enable them to thrive in every day life too.
A wide perspective and strong communication skills make you likely to become a valued member of your communities, and to enjoy the friendships and opportunities that this brings with it
Top universities in the US
At Kings, we help our students achieve the best possible outcome, which for many, sees them graduate from Top 50 or Top 100 US universities.
Completing the first two years of their degree and liberal arts education at one of our partner universities in California, Boston, New York or Wisconsin means they can fully acclimatize to the US university system before transferring out to complete their degree at a top ranked research university such as Cornell University, UCLA, USC, John Hopkins University, Rice University, UC Berkeley, University of Wisconsin-Madison or New York University.
"I came straight from Russia to the US and I was a bit scared. Kings want to make sure you have a successful future. This is what I wanted from them and they gave me this! After two years I can see I have more experience and knowledge about what I can do with my future.You have to study hard but thanks to Kings I got accepted to my dream school."
Evgeniia Bulatova from Russia did Years 1 & 2 with us in California and was accepted at UCLA to major in Political Science.
“What Kings provided me with was the network and connections – from that they also gave us good guidelines and tactics in terms of how to move on and transfer, how to progress to where we want to get in the future."
Ho Man Wong is from Hong Kong. He majored in Economics and East Asian Studies at New York University after transferring from Kings in Boston.
"Kings helped me with how to write an essay for university application, also advised about grades. I chose Madison because the University is in the Top 50 for Computer Science. You get an advantage in the job market if you are in the Top 50 universities in the US. I feel that my dream is coming true."
Chanwoong Jhon is from Korea. After doing his first two years with us at UW-Fox Cities, he transferred to University of Wisconsin-Madison to major in Computer Science.
"My experiences with Kings were excellent because I felt like they were my family who was always there for me, always supporting me whether I needed them. The pace of life at BU is much faster. I was able to be much more prepared because if I’d come here straight from Ukraine I would not be able to handle this! Kings helped me reach my potential."
Kateryna Kzhemanovska from Ukraine did Year 1 with us in New York and was then accepted to major in Media & Communication at Boston University.
Career Prospects for Liberal Arts Graduates
As already referenced, the Liberal Arts tend to equip students with soft skills, such as effective communication, critical thinking, creativity and emotional intelligence.
Liberal Arts graduates are highly versatile, and as a result move into a wide range of careers. Below are just some of the professions that graduates with a Liberal Arts background progress to.
Career #1: Marketing
As a marketing professional, you will need to have many of the skills developed through a liberal arts education. It is often said that those with a liberal arts background are are a natural fit for the collaborative, creative environment of marketing agencies, and of marketing roles in general.
Career #2: Public Relations
Working in public relations involves ensuring the company or organisation you represent has a positive public image. Employers generally want candidates who have strong interpersonal skills and writing skills as PR specialists are responsible for writing media releases and developing and maintaining social media presence.
Career #3: Human Resources
HR managers or workers recruit and interview potential applicants for jobs within a company or organization. To fulfil this type of role, many employers are looking for people with strong writing and interpersonal skills.
Career #4: Financial analysis
Whilst the role of a financial analyst requires a clear ability to learn certain technical skills, it's also important for employers to hire people who are good communicators and who can distill complex information into understandable terms, which a strength for many liberal arts majors.
Career #5: Advertising
Strong communication and writing skills are essential for this occupation, as are strong interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.
How to Start Your Liberal Arts Education In 5 Simple Steps
Liberal Arts colleges and universities — like most of Kings partners — are smaller institutions with low student: faculty ratios and small class sizes. This makes them perfect places to start your degree as an international student.
Our GO (Guaranteed Outcome) programs offer you the chance to complete the first two years of your degree at one of our partner universities.
With the support of Kings staff on campus, you then have the option to transfer to, and graduate from, a Top 50 or Top 100 US university. It is this university which will appear on your bachelor's degree certificate.
Step #1: Take a look at our programs and destinations
We have a range of programs and locations in California, Wisconsin, Boston or New York.
Step #2: Take a look at our entry requirements
Entry requirements can vary by program, and depending what country you are from.
Step #3: Contact us, or your local education agent with any questions
Contact details for our Central Admissions team, along with our locations, can be found here
Step #4 Submit your application
Find our admissions information and application forms here
Step #5: Get ready to start your US university education!
We hope that this article has helped you understand more about a liberal arts education and how Kings can help you on your path.
If you would like receive more detailed information about the Kings Premium Universities, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.