Liberal arts skills are profitable for college graduates

by Grace

It turns out that employers are looking for the skills that liberal-arts studies instill — critical thinking, logical reasoning, clear writing.  College graduates who tested best at liberal-arts skills were “far more likely to be better off financially than those who scored lowest.  The problem is that many college graduates seem to lack these critical qualifications.

“Most senior managers are unimpressed with the entry-level job applicants they’re seeing, reports a new survey.

Note to recent college grads and the Class of 2012: You may not be as ready for the working world as you think you are. At least, that’s the opinion of about 500 senior managers and C-suite executives in a study by Global Strategy Group, on behalf of worldwide architectural firm Woods Bagot.

In all, a 65% majority of business leaders say young people applying for jobs at their companies right out of college are only ‘somewhat’ prepared for success in business, with 40% of C-suite executives saying they are ‘not prepared at all.’ Not only that, but even those who get hired anyway may not rise very far. Almost half (47%) of C-suite executives believe that fewer than one-quarter (21%) of new grads have the skills they’ll need to advance past entry-level jobs.

And what skills might those be? The most sought-after are problem-solving (49% ranked it No. 1), collaboration (43%), and critical thinking (36%). Also in demand is the ability to communicate clearly and persuasively in writing (31%). Technology and social media skills came in at rock bottom on the list, valued highly by only a tiny 5% minority of senior managers. The kicker: According to the poll, new grads fall far short of the mark in every one of these areas — except tech savvy, the least desired. …”

Get off the Internet and go read a book!
It might be that some of that time students spend waste creating snazzy PowerPoint presentations, socializing on Facebook, and editing Tumblr photos would be better spent in more reading, writing, and studying for classes.  According to data presented in Academically Adrift, students are spending less time on these academic pursuits.

Evidence that liberal arts skills pay off

A new survey should prompt renewed focus on a fundamental higher-education truth: The skills that liberal-arts studies instill — critical thinking, logical reasoning, clear writing — are crucial for success.

The Social Science Research Council study involved 925 college graduates who took the standardized Collegiate Learning Assessment as seniors. It found those who tested best at liberal-arts skills were “far more likely to be better off financially than those who scored lowest,” according to USA Today.

They were three times less likely to be jobless, half as likely to live with their parents and far more likely to avoid credit-card debt.


4 Comments to “Liberal arts skills are profitable for college graduates”

  1. Problem solving, critical thinking, clear writing – the very things that are impossible to teach in massive lecture or online courses. These are skills that need intensive feedback and interaction to develop.


  2. Impossible? I doubt that. As an example, online writing instruction can lend itself to intensive feedback. I’ve seen where some teachers have praised the advantages of online writing courses. OTOH, I’ve read about teachers who think a lot of writing feedback has to be face-to-face.

    Also, sometimes online courses are superior for learning some basic background knowledge. I have a post of that coming up later this week.

    I certainly don’t think that online or massive lecture courses are always the best, but I can see their value sometimes in teaching these skills.


  3. “… we hear constantly from employers in our industry council that they really want “critical thinking” and “presentation skills”. But when it comes to hiring, they really want technical skills. ”

    Interesting. Not that I have extensive experience, but I’ve never taken or heard of an employer giving a writing test. It sounds like a great idea; I would do it if I were hiring someone. Boy, I suspect very few people would pass!!!


  4. “most hiring managers couldn’t test for writing skills because they have none themselves”

    That was my thought. They would have to send the samples away for grading.


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