Why study the liberal arts?


College is hard, no matter what your major is. So why did we all decide to choose an educational path that includes classes in fields we didn’t want to major in?

It can be easy to think of college as just a step on the road towards your grown-up career plans. That’s definitely what I had in mind at first.

But now that I’ve worked my way through all of those “general education requirements,” I’ve gained a newfound appreciation for the liberal arts. (For more on the different kinds of classes you’ll take at Transylvania, click here!)

What I’ve learned to value the most about the liberal arts is that it connects me to the rest of the world — because my education here has required me to think about far more than my own self, my own interests, and my own culture.

I’ve taken classes on different religious traditions (Judeo-Christian Heritage, Buddhist Religious Traditions, and Islamic Religious Traditions), different places (an anthropology class on Appalachia and the Environment and a travel course to London, England!), and even within my major, classes on different writing styles (Business Writing, Intro to Journalism, and Poetry Workshop).

But I’ve also learned how to appreciate those subjects that don’t initially interest me. For example, I’ve never been fascinated by economics. Or math. Or anything remotely related to either one. But taking classes in both taught me to focus on the aspects of those subjects that I do want to understand better. Because whether I like it or not, both classes teach skills that I’m going to need in my post-Transy life. The same goes for students who despise writing — an analytical essay may not be fun, but you know that becoming a better writer will be beneficial, no matter what you do after college.

Every possible subject there is to study may not be initially interesting — but they are all important. Or else, no one would be studying them. So get creative and look for aspects of those classes that connect to what you’re interested in, or that apply to skills you’ll need in the job you want.

Maybe that sounds impossible right now. I promise you, though, that those connections are everywhere. Immersing yourself in a liberal arts environment just makes you better at spotting them.

Because the world is much bigger than just us. Academia is much broader than just our specific interests. It’s okay to play favorites — you’re going to major in something — but it’s not fair to ignore every other subject. Doing so only puts you at a disadvantage.

The liberal arts prepare us for everything in the post-college world. Including acceptance into professional school and landing great jobs. Plus we’re better writers and more interesting conversation partners. So if you want to be prepared, broaden your horizons, and have fun all at the same time, study the liberal arts.