Over the last few decades, there has been an obvious shift in art school and liberal arts college attendance. There are many factors that play into this shift including re-focused university curricula, fear and rhetoric surrounding not getting a job based on choice of major, and opportunities available outside of traditional school such as social media promotion. More and more, universities are shifting from being equal liberal arts and STEM focused to putting more resources into STEM. This leaves liberal arts majors with a lack of support and a potentially toxic rhetoric that surrounds their career field. There are plenty of jokes that surround arts and sciences being called “arts and crafts” or other put down-y things to insinuate that getting a liberal arts degree is not only easy, but less valuable than other degrees. This is one major factor that can definitely act as deterrent for young people who are deciding their career path. Some colleges are shutting down their liberal arts programs altogether to create more potential for STEM majors, which creates even fewer options for those wishing to pursue a liberal arts degree, There is a fear that after graduation, they won’t get high paying jobs that will help them pay back the copious amounts of debt that they acquired when getting their degree. With all of this in mind, it gives students a lot to question. Here are some findings, pros/cons, and tidbits of thought.

Numbers in Decline

  • According to The Hechinger Report, the number of liberal arts majors have dropped from nearly 1 in 5 in 1967 to 1/20.
  • Rising tuition costs create a discrepancy between perceived payout and the potential debt for the actual degree.
  • There is a decline in liberal arts majors being offered, with some universities even cutting programs altogether to focus on STEM based majors.
  • Some schools recognize the fear around securing a job after college, and are trying to combat that with proof that graduates get fulfilling jobs.
  • A survey done by the Gallup and the Strada Education Network found that a whopping 40% of liberal arts graduates would have selected a different major.
  • Studies suggest that liberal arts applications decreased during the financial crisis in 2008 and have never fully recovered.

In Pursuit of Liberal Arts

Go For It!
  • College provides professional training and networking by professionals in the field of interest.
  • The resulting degree bolsters resumes and demonstrates critical thinking gained through education.
  • Surveys have proved that those with liberal arts degrees earn less than science majors, but not by much, and lead to fulfilling careers.
Or… Maybe Not?
  • The ever-discouraging potential of racking up thousands of dollars in student loans.
  • Bachelor’s degrees don’t hold the same weight that they previously did.
  • Stigma surrounding choosing an “easy” major.

So, is it worth it? And other thoughts…

With artists receiving (potentially) a lot of attention on social media platforms including YouTube and Instagram, it provides an alternative to traditional school. There is also a clear shift in the ways that audiences interact with art. Rather than stuffy and highbrow art museums where art was reserved for only certain members of society, people are encouraged to like, share, retweet, and promote their art in different ways. These platforms aren’t concerned with degrees or education level. If the art is good and discovered by the right people, the artist will receive attention regardless. So, given all of this food for thought, we’d love to hear from you on how you think liberal arts education has changed and where will it end up!

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