Association of American Colleges and Universities report: Liberal arts graduates run a marathon to become successful in later life

22 Jan

One of the goals of education is to give the student sufficient basic skills to be able to leave school and be able to function at a job or correctly assess their training needs. One of the criticisms of the current education system is that it does not adequately prepare children for work or for a career. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/borrowing-from-work-schools-teach-career-mapping/ A liberal arts education has been considered the gold standard. A Washington Post article has some good tips about how a liberal arts education could be made valuable in the current economic climate.
Andy Chan, vice president of the Wake Forest University Office of Personal and Career Development, and Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Reynolds Professor of Computational Biophysics and dean of Wake Forest College write in the Washington Post about producing employable liberal arts grads. In the article, Six tips for liberal arts colleges to produce employable grads, Chan and Fetrow give the following advice:

Here are a few recommendations for liberal arts colleges to more deeply realize and communicate the value of the liberal education for the world of work today:
• Develop partnerships that bridge the career development office with the faculty and academic advisors. Students demand to know how their choice of major will affect their career options. By sharing these data and student examples with the faculty and academic advisors, the career development office becomes more vital to students and to the faculty. With the endorsement and influence of the faculty, students utilize the complete range of resources offered by the career development office starting from their first year on campus.
• Provide opportunities for faculty to understand the needs of employers. When professors understand why employers hire certain students, they can articulate how the academic material can be applied variety of work settings and help students recognize and better market this knowledge and skills. They can also more effectively mentor students and provide career advice and connections.
• Make internships and/or research projects an integral part of the student experience. Make sure the student demonstrates the drive to stick with a research problem for longer than a semester. A survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that 84 percent of executives at private sector and non-profit organizations expressed a desire for students to complete a significant project before graduation to demonstrate their depth of knowledge and a passion for a particular areas, as well as their acquisition of broad analytical, problem solving and communication skills.
• Offer credit-based courses in career development so that students learn the fundamentals for lifelong career management. With projections that today’s graduate will have eight or more jobs in their life, they must be equipped with the knowledge, skills and tools to navigate the path from college to career as well as post-graduate career changes.
• Bring recent alumni from a variety of careers to campus and perhaps into the classroom to share their experiences for how they utilize their liberal education. Today’s students expect immediate answers and a direct line from major to career. At Wake Forest University, history professors require their students to participate in teleconferences with alumni who applied their bachelor’s degree in history to relevant but not directly related fields, such as journalism, law and marketing. Understanding the breadth of real-world opportunities dispels the myth that all history – and other liberal arts – majors are destined to become professors.
• Develop partnerships between the liberal arts college and the business school to enable faculty and students to work and learn across boundaries. Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise, now the most popular minor at Wake Forest, emerged from a college-business school collaboration. Alternatively, many students choose to acquire the Masters in Management degree at Wake Forest in their fifth year to develop the business knowledge and leadership skills to complement their liberal undergraduate education. These types of partnerships are essential to provide students with the skills to apply their liberal arts skills to business-world problems.
There are many possible solutions to help students realize and articulate the relevancy of the liberal education to the world of work. The one requirement is that liberal arts colleges must make personal and career development a mission-critical part of the undergraduate experience – and they must collaborate with faculty in the endeavor.
A liberal arts education, long regarded as one of America’s unique sources of strength, remains an important vehicle for nurturing young talent who will produce the answers for our future. However, a liberal education without regard to career relevance is not enough. Liberal arts colleges must begin rethinking success by demonstrating relevance beyond the classroom.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/college-inc/post/six-tips-for-liberal-arts-colleges-to-produce-employable-grads/2012/03/31/gIQAQb6EnS_blog.html

In the current economy more and more prospective students are wondering if college is a good investment.

Allie Grasgreen reported in the Inside Higher Ed article, Liberal Arts Grads Win Long-Term:

Liberal arts majors may start off slower than others when it comes to the postgraduate career path, but they close much of the salary and unemployment gap over time, a new report shows.
By their mid-50s, liberal arts majors with an advanced or undergraduate degree are on average making more money those who studied in professional and pre-professional fields, and are employed at similar rates. But that’s just one part of the paper’s overall argument that concerns about the value of a liberal arts degree “are unfounded and should be put to rest.”
“That’s a myth out there – that somehow if you major in humanities, you’re doomed to be unemployed for the rest of your life. This suggests otherwise,” said Debra Humphreys, a co-author of the report and vice president for policy and public engagement at the Association of American Colleges and Universities. “That sort of journey to professional success is more of a marathon than a sprint.”
The report, “How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment,” includes U.S. Census data from 2010 and 2011 and is a joint project of AAC&U and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. Humphreys and her co-author, Patrick Kelly, a senior associate at NCHEMS, looked at long-term career path and salary data as an answer to the many short-term studies on recent graduates that have fueled the assertion that liberal arts graduates are disproportionately un- or underemployed.
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/01/22/see-how-liberal-arts-grads-really-fare-report-examines-long-term-data#ixzz2rCYOkCTv

Back in the day there was a book entitled Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. It was published in 1988 and was written by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. Moi liked the concept, some others, not so much. “Cultural Literacy” is defined by Education. Com:

Having sufficient common knowledge, i.e., educational background, experiences, basic skills, and training, to function competently in a given society (the greater the level of comprehension of the given society’s habits, attitudes, history, etc., the higher the level of cultural literacy). http://www.education.com/definition/cultural-literacy/

Marci Kanstroom wrote E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy and American Democracy which was published in Education Next liked the concept. http://educationnext.org/e-d-hirsch-cultural-literacy-and-american-democracy/ Others, like Patrick Scott criticized the concept in articles like Scott’s A Few Words More about E. D. Hirsch and Cultural Literacy. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/378146?uid=3739960&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=55881093943 Scott takes issue with Hirsch’s criticism of education icons Dewey and the NEA.

Bernard Schweitzer wrote an interesting 2009 piece for the NEA, Cultural Literacy: Is It Time to Revisit the Debate?

Some will say, “What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures, most of them dead White males? Our students are equipped with vibrant local cultural knowledges of their own.” Others will caution me not to expect too much from freshmen, saying that it is my job to ensure that they leave the academy armed with a degree of common knowledge that they may not have when entering it. Yet others may be more concerned, agreeing that while a basic fund of knowledge should be expected of freshmen, my students are perhaps performing so poorly on general knowledge issues because most of them come from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds (e.g., poor inner-city high schools) and diverse ethnic backgrounds (e.g., immigrants). But here’s the rub. If undergraduate students have never heard of Gandhi, Orwell, or Thoreau (or have no reason to remember them), they obviously have such a huge gap in general knowledge that four years of college education are not likely to make up for what has been missing since middle school. Although I may strive diligently to fill those gaps, I realize that we no longer live in a culture that encourages and reinforces a shared knowledge basis with regard to history, geography, literature, and the sciences. But that does not mean that this kind of cultural literacy has ceased to be relevant. Indeed, I believe it is still alive and well, but that it is now cultivated only in a narrow circle of the privileged classes. The reason I don’t see much evidence of this shared knowledge in my own classroom is that I do not, as a rule, encounter the products of the country’s elite preparatory school systems. What I’m saying, then, is that the issue of cultural literacy is socio-economically coded.
Some will say, ‘What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures,most of them dead White males?’
The problem with the argument that cultural literacy is irrelevant is that it does actually matter to some. It matters to the upper-middle and upper classes, who hold the reins of wealth and power. Those families who can afford to send their children to top schools can be sure that their offspring are inculcated with precisely the kind of cultural fluency that some are trying to persuade us holds no importance in today’s diversified world. The more we argue the unimportance of cultural literacy among the general populace, the more we relegate the possession of this knowledge to the province of a socio-economic elite, thereby contributing to a hardening of social stratification and a lessening of social mobility. In the upper echelons of society, cultural literacy indicates belonging, and it signals the circulation of knowledge within tightly knit coteries. http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/TA09CulturalLiteracy.pdf

Whether one wants to argue that certain cultures are not included or do not have a prominent enough place in the definition of cultural literacy, the real question is what is the baseline knowledge necessary to be upwardly mobile? That is the real value of a liberal arts education which helps to develop critical thinking skills which are transferrable to many occupations.

Here is the press release from the Association of American Colleges and Universities:

For Immediate Release
Contact:
Carrie Johnson
Associate Director, Marketing and Media Relations
AAC&U
johnson@aacu.org
202-884-0811
New Report Documents That Liberal Arts Disciplines Prepare Graduates for Long-Term Professional Success
Analysis of Census Data Tracks Long-Term Earnings and Employment Rates of Liberal Arts Graduates; Counters Stereotypes about Value of Liberal Education
Washington, DC—January 22, 2014—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) released today a new report on earnings and long-term career paths for college graduates with different undergraduate majors. In How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment, authors Debra Humphreys and Patrick Kelly analyze data from the 2010-11 US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and provide answers to some common questions posed by students, parents, and policy makers who are increasingly concerned about the value of college degrees.
Responding to concerns about whether college is still worth it and whether liberal arts* majors provide a solid foundation for long-term employment and career success, the report compares earnings trajectories and career pathways for liberal arts majors with the earnings trajectories and career pathways for those majoring in science and mathematics, engineering, and professional or preprofessional fields like business or education.
“Recent attacks on the liberal arts by ill-informed commentators and policy makers have painted a misleading picture of the value of the liberal arts to individuals and our communities,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider. “As the findings in this report demonstrate, majoring in a liberal arts field can and does lead to successful and remunerative careers in a wide array of professions.”
In addition to providing useful information about long-term career success of liberal arts graduates, the report also shows “the extent to which degree holders in humanities and social sciences are flocking to a family of social services and education professions that may pay less well than some other fields (e.g., engineering or business management), but that are necessary to the health of our communities and to the quality of our educational systems.” The authors note that “the liberal arts and sciences play a major role in sustaining the social and economic fabric of our society.”
The report argues that “whatever undergraduate major they may choose, students who pursue their major within the context of a broad liberal education substantially increase their likelihood of achieving long-term professional success.”
Key Findings
Liberal Arts Majors Close Earnings Gaps—Earn More than Professional Majors at Peak Earnings Ages
• At peak earnings ages (56-60 years) workers who majored as undergraduates in the humanities or social sciences earn annually on average about $2000 more than those who majored as undergraduates in professional or pre-professional fields. These data include all college graduates working full-time, including those with only a baccalaureate degree and those with both a baccalaureate and graduate or professional degree.
Unemployment Rates are Low for Liberal Arts Graduates—and Decline over Time
• The unemployment rate for recent liberal arts graduates is 5.2 percent. The unemployment rate for mature workers with liberal arts degrees (41-50) is 3.5 percent—just .04 percent higher than the rates for those with a professional or preprofessional degree.
Liberal Arts Graduates Disproportionately Pursue Social Services Professions
• Relative to their share in the overall employment market, graduates with humanities or social science degrees are overrepresented in social services professions like social work or counseling.
Many Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Also Attain Graduate and Professional Degrees and Experience Significant Earnings Boosts When They Do
• More than 9.6 million individuals hold a baccalaureate degree in a humanities or social sciences field, and nearly 4 million of these individuals (about 40 percent) also hold a graduate or professional degree. These graduates with advanced degrees experience, on average, a yearly boost in earnings of nearly $20,000. More than half of science and math majors earn advanced degrees and experience, on average, a boost in earnings of more than $30,000 when they do.
Graduate and Professional Degrees Provide Earning Boosts for All; Largest Boost for Science and Math Majors and Smallest Boost for Professional Majors
• Graduate and professional degrees provide significant boosts in earnings for all majors. The largest graduate/professional degree earnings bump is experienced by those with science or mathematics degrees. The smallest bump is experienced by those with professional or preprofessional degrees.
Median Annual Salaries are Highest for Engineering Graduates; But, Whatever the Undergraduate Major, College Degrees Lead to Increased Earnings over Time and Protect Against Unemployment
• The median earnings of engineering graduates are consistently higher than the earnings of all other degree holders, but college graduates in all fields see their salaries increase significantly over time
“My educational background is in a STEM field, but in recent years I’ve become alarmed at the attacks on the liberal arts as being poor educational investments—for both students and the state,” said Dennis Jones, NCHEMS president. “This report makes a strong case that liberal arts degrees really do prepare their holders for successful careers. More importantly, it reminds us that these degrees also are the primary pathways to careers that society critically needs, but has been unwilling to compensate as well as others.”
Note on Methodology
The study analyzed public use files from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey for 2010 and 2011. These files include information related to the education and occupation of about 3 million US residents between the ages of 21 and 65. The report authors grouped together for purposes of comparison college graduates with four-year degrees in a humanities or social science field (e.g. philosophy, history, or sociology) and compared the employment status of these individuals with that of three other groups: those with degrees in a professional or pre-professional field (e.g. nursing or business), those with a degree in science or mathematics (e.g. chemistry or biology), and those with a degree in engineering.
*The term “liberal arts” is used in the report as a description for majors in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.
The publication of this report was supported with grants from The National Endowment for the Humanities, the Spencer Foundation, and the Teagle Foundation.
Credentialed media can obtain copies of the full report by contacting Carrie Johnson at Johnson@aacu.org or 202-884-0811.
________________________________________
About NCHEMS
Through its more than forty years of service to higher education, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) has been committed to bridging the gap between research and practice by placing the latest concepts and tools in the hands of higher education policy makers and administrators. Since its founding, NCHEMS has received widespread acclaim for developing practical responses to the strategic issues facing leaders of higher education institutions and agencies. With project support from multiple foundations, NCHEMS develops information and policy tools targeted at policy makers and institutional leaders that can help them set strategic directions and evaluate their effectiveness. NCHEMS also delivers research-based expertise, practical experience, information, and a range of management tools that can help institutions and higher education systems and states improve both their efficiency and their effectiveness. A particular hallmark of what we do is identifying and analyzing the data drawn from multiple sources to help solve specific policy and strategic problems.
About AAC&U
AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises more than 1,300 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, research universities, and comprehensive universities of every type and size.

AAC&U functions as a catalyst and facilitator, forging links among presidents, administrators, and faculty members who are engaged in institutional and curricular planning. Its mission is to reinforce the collective commitment to liberal education and inclusive excellence at both the national and local levels, and to help individual institutions keep the quality of student learning at the core of their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges.

Information about AAC&U membership, programs, and publications can be found at http://www.aacu.org.

Citation:

How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment: A Report on Earnings and Long-Term Career Paths
Student, parents, and policy makers interested in the “return on investment” of college education tend to place unwarranted emphasis on the choice of undergraduate major, often assuming that a major in a liberal arts field has a negative effect on employment prospects and earnings potential. This new report—which includes data on earnings, employment rates, graduate school earnings bumps, and commonly chosen professions— presents clear evidence to the contrary. It shows not only that the college degree remains a sound investment, especially in these difficult economic times, but also that— as compared to students who major in professional, preprofessional, or STEM fields— liberal arts majors fare very well in terms of both earnings and long-term career success.
Also available in eBook Version (PDF).
Read an excerpt
Product Code: LASCIEMPL
Author: By Debra Humphreys and Patrick Kelly; With a foreword by Carol Geary Schneider and Peter Ewell
Year Published: January 22, 2014
AAC&U Bookstore: Publications, Books, Assessment, Curriculum, General Education, LEAP, Liberal Education
Member Price: $12.00
Non-member Price: $20.00
http://secure2.aacu.org/store/detail.aspx?id=LASCIEMPL

Related:

Critical thinking is an essential trait of an educated person https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/critical-thinking-is-an-essential-trait-of-an-educated-person/

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