Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sunday Paper: What are You Going to Do with that Liberal Arts Degree?

...To worried moms and dad, they offer reassurances that a philosophy degree doesn't mean their darling son is going to be living under their roof forever. Successful grads share their Stories...

Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads: Finding a Path to your Perfect Career is a book written by Sheila J. Curran and Suzanne Greenwald, that was reviewed by Mary Ellen Slayter in The Washington Post. I would love to send the link to my son, but I don't want to come across as a nag. It's a fine line to walk when raising children, sharing the information without being pushy. Within the article it is mentioned that even though the intended audience is recent grads, parents have become the audience.

Parents just want assurances that our children will be able to find careers after college to enjoy their jobs and be successful. Success is individually defined, whether it is financially or job satisfaction. Thirty years ago, you could graduate with a Liberal Arts degree and any business would be happy to hire and train you for management positions. That degree demonstrated your ability to learn , write and become a productive employee. I am not convinced that a business degree gives companies the same result, since creativity and writing skills are not emphasized and business theories are evolving. The job market is a different world than 25 years ago and the changes have not been positive.

I graduated with specific training for a specific career which can be limiting, what if you don't like what you went to college for? With a liberal arts degree, good internships, I want to think that your opportunities can be endless. But I would like my children to find their own passions without relying on us and that is brought up in article since our assumptions about the work world is not current. It's time for us to continue to be there but to take steps back as our children become independent. If a liberal arts degree is what they want, then maybe reading about other graduates' experiences may help my son make good choices now and help me to back off and relax.


  1. I'm kinda behind on checking Amy's blogs of the day, congrats!

    "It's a fine line to walk when raising children, sharing the information without being pushy."

    I find that to be so true and want to tell my kids stuff but I think they just don't want to hear it from me!

  2. Gail, as soon as kids turn into teenagers, they don't want to hear much. They seem to listen a little better after they reach their twenties.
    Jen, my degree was in gerontology, because I was a nursing home administrator. A couple of years after that, I became a professional storyteller. Since then, my degree has just been hanging on the wall in the laundry room waiting for me to need a paper towel.
    I think it's important to get a degree (because it shows future employers that you can finish what you start.
    But, let's face it, my plumber doesn't even have a college degree, and I bet he makes more than we do! As parents, I think that just about all we can do is offer them a book like the one you suggest and hope they can find their own paths.
    Good review!

  3. Shelly- funny that you should mention plumbing, my youngest just went through career days in 8th grade and went to the plumber and electrician talks. This whole college thing is so expensive and we really need educated tradespeople in this world....

    Gail- parents are stupid according to teenagers, they don't want to hear anything from us, except that dinner is ready!

  4. Jen, how many times did you have your kids say "You don't understand." A parent moving through the transition from teen to independent young adult takes understanding from both parties and when that happens, you will find you will step away and drop the reins. It is a bittersweet day. Until then 'nag', or do what you feel as a concerned parent you should do to help your child make informed decisions, couched in terms and values you both understand.
    Like Shelly I had a nursing career, but I went for my degree years later and loved every minute of my study. Like Shelly it has gathered dust since then, but the experience has never been wasted.

  5. Hey Jen, thanks so much for dropping by my corner. ;) I think education is such a lifelong and not "one degree accomplished" journey. At 35 I'm just making preparations to go back to school and get a law degree. It's not at all what I would have chosen over 15 years ago but I'm actually getting excited about it now. Who knew? But on to the topic of supporting your kids...I think you're right on the money trying to find way to positively and instructively support them!



Any thoughts or musings of your own to add?