I believe that a liberal arts education is very helpful in order to strive in today’s world. But I don’t think that it is necessary to be successful. First, let’s talk about the advantages of a liberal arts education. A student at a liberal arts university is subjected to a wide variety of disciplines and can receive a broader knowledge base than those who don’t get a liberal arts education. Furthermore, students interact with many different types of peers who are interested in different subjects. This diversification provides the student with a better understanding of the real world, where you will meet people who are very different from yourself. These aspects of a liberal arts education coincide with the Ancient Greek philosophy of skills to help prepare the student for societal expectations.

In today’s world though, I don’t think it is necessary to receive a liberal arts education to be successful. Two extreme cases are Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Neither of these men attended college and both strived in the world today through their creativity and natural entrepreneurship.  I also know first-hand that a college education is not needed by the examples of my uncles. Both of my uncles didn’t attend college and now run a multi-million dollar temporary staffing business. They each have different personalities- one is the strict business guy and the other is the social butterfly who interacts with all of their clients. The duo has been running this business for more than 20 years and has built it up from the bottom to the top of their small business industry. Using these examples, clearly a liberal arts education is not necessary to be successful or “truly free” in our society today. In my opinion, it’s all about being driven, working hard, and using your skills to your advantage. Overall, I don’t think a liberal arts education is required to get and maintain a job that enables you to enjoy a standard of living above that equivalent to a wage slavery job. Furthermore, a college education isn’t necessary either. But if you do attend a liberal arts institute, I think it’s important to take advantage of that and get exposed to as many subjects as possible to broaden your knowledge and understanding of different fields.

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4 responses »

  1. Matt says:

    I appreciate you using the examples of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and your uncles to prove that a modern liberal arts college may not be necessary. And I wholeheartedly agree; college is not the only pathway to success. But a liberal arts college vs. the liberal arts are two entirely separate things. And I think if you had an honest discussion with any of these people, you would find that their inspiration and success stems from many sources, from being well rounded and understanding the world from multiple perspectives. Steve Jobs was a brilliant entrepreneur because he understood people, he knew how to critically analyze a situation, defend his viewpoints, and use social sciences to create and enhance products to the point where they were almost irresistible. And your uncles, who are both incredibly successful, made it that far because they understood how to balance business with socialization, how to interact with the world from different viewpoints. So while I agree that a modern liberal arts college might not be as valuable, I would urge you to reconsider how important the liberal arts are as their own entity.

  2. Steph P. says:

    We definitely share some of the same points in our blogs. I agreed that a liberal arts education was valuable but not necessary. I even went so far, just as you did, as to say that education itself is valuable but not necessary (for that small percentage). Then I started thinking after I read through the posts. What if my little sister came up to me and said “Steph i’m driven, hardworking, and smart, and I know I’m entrepreneurial enough to be successful instead of pursing a collegiate career”. I would most definitely say “hell no emily you’re going to college”. What if your child came up to you and said the same thing? Or a very close friend? it’s really easy to look at people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and think it’s doable to attain success with the right attitude. I find it interesting how I would make exceptions for them even though I don’t know them personally, but wouldn’t make the exception for my “driven , hardworking, entrepreneurial sister”

  3. Jordi says:

    Hey, I am not sure a mufti-million dollar company is still a “small” business.

    • eric says:

      I echo matt’s comment. When one considers what the liberal arts, at its core, really is, I can’t help but feel sure that such knowledge is necessary to be successful in any endeavor other than a repetitive, low-skilled job. I think the central question here is how long before a computer can fully (and more efficiently than you) do your job? From this point of view, it makes sense why CEOs get paid so much.
      Also, I agree, success does not require a BA degree. There are plenty of successful Engineers and Management majors who have never taken the basic liberal arts classes, but for them to be successful I can guarantee you they will point to how they developed those ‘liberal arts’ skills on their own – before they became successful.

      And Steve Jobs went to college. Just dropped out like the last year in order to travel to India. And the reason why computers all have nice, fancy fonts is because Steve Jobs audited (not for credit, and after he ‘left’) a Calligraphy class that he claims had a great impact on him. Central example to support the necessity of the liberal arts…

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