Before I knew anything about a liberal arts education, I heard some opinions that this sort of education  ” aims to teach you so much about everything that you don’t get the chance to focus on a particular subject”. While looking at Bucknell as a potential school I took that opinion with a grain of salt and likened the liberal arts education to my high school, in the sense that you were required to take a wide variety of classes aiming to make one well rounded. This was unappealing at first because it reminded me of pointless classes like art i was forced to take in high school. However, the name and prestige of a Bucknell degree was most important to me in choosing a school.

Currently I am on track to major in Management and minor in Religion and Philosophy. I think the concept of a liberal arts education is useful and if taken seriously can really help students become well-rounded. But, in my experience it has been used in a way that defeats it primary purpose. Often times I have used my elective courses as easy “A” classes rather than choosing a class that would potentially help prepare me for my career. This probably can happen at a school that is not liberal arts of course but this reality especially misses the point of the liberal art education. A possible solution is for Bucknell to do a better job at offering more of a variety of courses to students, this way students can have more classed geared toward their major available. If their were more classes available that were practical and useful to people’s careers that could potentially help this problem.

 One course that stands out to me that I found particularly enjoyable is my technology elective. This elective was required for my major but I had options as to what class to take.  I think the class was called Mgmt 240, I took it with Santanen the class basically explains the use and importance of technology within all companies.

In conclusion, I do not know if one can definitely say that liberal arts education is useless because of our shortsightedness. I do not know what will better prepare me for my career, or what random class introduce me to a career I never thought of. 

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12 responses »

  1. Lindsey F. says:

    Charles I agree with what you’re saying. I think a liberal arts education is good to a certain extent but there needs to be a time when classes relate specifically with what you’re planning on doing. I understand that basic skills will help in the real world but I also want to learn things related to what I want to do.

  2. Steph P. says:

    I liked the point you raised about the “easy A” classes not really having any use toward a major. College isn’t supposed to be place to “get good grades”. It’s supposed to be place to challenge your intellect with other stimulating individuals around you, as smart, or smarter than you. When universities offer courses like that, I think it detracts from the real purpose of learning….to learn. WOW. blew your mind. I understand that there are a lot of courses at Bucknell that are more challenging than others (MGMT 161 in my case), and those easy A classes are useful in calming down a tough schedule. However, it makes me sad when I see seniors in art, dance, painting..etc in their last year when I think they should be using those semesters to better challenge themselves to be the best they could be in a career post-grad. It’s almost like running steadily the entire race, then walking the last lap.

    • Jordi says:

      Ok, I see your point. At the same time, if a Senior WANTS to, as a wise person said, ” challenge [one’s] intellect with other stimulating individuals around you, as smart, or smarter than you,” in an art or painting class, then said senior ought to, no?

  3. wesmw says:

    I agree with Steph about the point you bring up with the “easy A”. However, at the same time I have to say that these classes have for the most part been the most interesting ones that I have taken at Bucknell. I also agree with your point that Bucknell needs to offer more of a variety of courses that pertain to more people’s majors.

    • Jordi says:

      Sometimes grades get int the way of learning…

      Like the hackers who know money matters, but do not make it the core motivation, the joyful pursuit of knowledge for its own sake is a reward unto itself…

  4. Matt says:

    I think people have lost sight of what the point of a liberal arts education is. My dad was an accounting major here, but he took a lot of very rigorous liberal arts classes with brutal workloads and some heavy reading, and he still claims those were the most influential. The liberal arts education was founded to teach you how to think, not to just study whatever your heart desired. You studied the greatest works of Western civilization, with heavy emphasis on history and political philosophy and art and literature. I think if we went back to an education focused on the classics, one that sought to inspire you through the greatest minds the world has ever known, it would do a lot better. Back then there was more emphasis on including the classics in all curriculums, and I think they were the better for it. But I’m a both traditionalist and an engineer, so maybe I’m out of line here. I just think that our modern day liberal arts education is not as effective, which is why we are also moving towards more skill-based curriculums (like expanding management to include more electives and specific majors like marketing), and why employers have long checklists of requirements for job applications instead of just hiring a smart kid anymore.

    • Jordi says:

      Some crotchety old timer professors will point out that Liberal Arts used to mean exactly what you say MAtt. It was only after all those damn hippies in the 60s came along and talked about making education more relevant and/or personal that we moved to distribution requirements so students could be “empowered” to choose within broad categories.

      Some schools, like crazy places like Brown U, have NO requirements.

  5. Abby says:

    I also liked your point about “easy A” classes, but feel that it has much more to do with the current educational system than it does Bucknell in particular. The liberal arts system’s original goal was to create well rounded people. The problem, though, is that in order for it to work properly, people need to be willing to go outside of their comfort and try all of those “weird” classes in majors they have never heard of before. In a system where getting A’s is all that matters, people are less likely to try and reach for those “outside of the box” classes where they might get a bad grade. It really seems like a shame to me because it my opinion, university is one of the only times in our lives where we get try subjects out we might never work with again, and I do believe that it makes people more well-rounded in the long run. I mean, how many times in my life am I going to get to take Abnormal Psychology or Classical Mythology. For someone who has always liked to learn a little bit about everything, it is a dream come true for me, but I still think its sad that the system can’t be taken advantage of because of the emphasis that the educational system places on grades.

  6. Loukas T says:

    Its funny you mention easy A classes. I took Education 101 to fill the diversity in the US requirement thinking it would be an easy A. I was so disinterested in the subject matter and I hated the class, which is one disadvantage to being forced to take a broad range of classes. Educ 101 wasn’t difficult but I ended up with a B+ because I skipped class often and payed attention very little.

  7. Jordi says:

    Just looking at the title, if you say “Bad,” I am not going to let you graduate. 🙂

  8. Jordi says:

    Is usefulness measured only in terms of career preparation?

  9. Jordi says:

    Whose opinions are you citing? Just curious. parents/ teachers? Coaches? Other trusted people in your life?

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