Why should I bother with a liberal arts education?

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Answered by: Liana, An Expert in the Continuing Education - General Category
Times are tough. You won't find many sane people who say otherwise, but you probably won't find two people anywhere who agree on what you should do about it. Too many young adults are discouraged by the situations of their parents; they see their mom and dad pinching pennies and struggling to make ends meet from month to month and decide that school is keeping them from being able to contribute, that college is a complete waste of time. If they hold out to graduation and want to go on, they opt for a vocational school that will teach them everything they need to know for a single occupation. They have their future jobs planned before they get out of high school.

Vocational school is not a bad option. All education is beneficial, and if you've spent your whole life knowing that you want to be a mechanic, then there's nothing wrong with deciding to go straight to a school that will teach you what you need to do what you like.

But for most kids, the skills they need for the jobs they dream about aren't taught in a two-year program. America teaches its citizens to dream big, and you can probably remember the lofty goals you had for yourself as a child. Did you want to be a surgeon? A professional performer? The next president of the United States? There's no two-year program for being CEO of a major restaurant franchise. The older we get, the less realistic our childhood dreams seem, but what changes isn't our potential to do what we want to do but our ability to imagine ourselves being great enough to do it.

A liberal arts education is all about feeding dreams.

Contrary to popular opinion, being a college student isn't all about partying. College isn't a place rich kids go to put off having to find a job for four years. You won't leave college and find yourself behind the kids who started working straight out of high school. Getting a liberal arts education gives you the advantage of an opened mind. Going to a liberal arts college forces you to push yourself, testing your limits and stretching your mind to shape you into a thinker and a dreamer, weeding those with the determination and skills for success from those who are content to be mediocre.

You could go to a vocational school and become a mechanic and spend your life working on cars, and that would be a good life. But if you go to college and get a liberal arts education, you could, through learning from a wide range of subjects, stretch your mind and creativity and become the next Henry Ford.

Think of a liberal arts education as a kind of prep school for life. Yes, you get to choose a major and learn everything about something you love, but the emphasis on expanding the mind also gives you the chance to find something else you love, to find a skill you never knew you had or to discover a subject that fascinates you that you never knew existed. College is all about preparing men and women for the lives that they will lead, and a liberal arts education will prepare you for any path of greatness that you decide to go down.

Don't let the troubles of today suffocate tomorrow's potential. There are many ways to pay for college, and the prestige and respect you'll earn from attending college are worth the hard work and dedication required to succeed in school. Choosing to not go to school may get you a job today, but is having money in your pocket now worth the future you may be sacrificing by limiting yourself? You should bother with a liberal arts education because otherwise you'll never know how great you could be.

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