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#ThisPsychMajor cares about her education

An OpEd by Jaclyn Yuro in The Daily Collegian April 12th 2016


A modern liberal arts education may be described as an approach to learning that
empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change.
It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g. science, culture, and
society) as well as in-depth study in a specific area of interest. For some reason,
politicians and many others alike have a history of belittling these liberal arts degree
programs. As a prime example, in October 2015, while speaking at a presidential
candidate forum in Florida, Jeb Bush blatantly said that, Universities ought to have skin
in the game when a student shows up, they ought to say Hey, that psych major deal, that
philosophy major thing, thats great, its important to have liberal arts, but realize youre
going to be working at a Chick-Fil-A . While this is not the first time that shots have
been fired at liberal arts majors, this is the first time that my eyes were truly opened to the
direction that higher education is taking in this country. Since ancient times higher
education has emphasized a liberal arts foundation, and that has remained until recent
years. As a psychology major in the College of Liberal Arts at the Pennsylvania State
University, I am living the true liberal arts curriculum and can attest to the value in
receiving a liberal arts education. Liberal arts majors engage in a multidisciplinary
education and become well-rounded, knowledgeable citizens. We learn written and oral
communication skills in order to effectively communicate ideas and make ourselves
employable for a wide-range of positions. Im not saying that career-specific college
programs are completely undesirable to all, but rather, I am stressing the value in a

college education that allows for self-exploration, critical thinking, and discussion of
ideas. There is immense value in learning simply for the sake of learning, which seems
to be dwindling in our society. Yet, as the future leaders of this country, we must learn to
be well-rounded and knowledgeable citizens who demonstrate strong leadership abilities
and harbor an open-minded view of different people and ideas.
The argument against this type of education, that so many people love to cling to,
that liberal arts degrees dont equate to jobs, is false. There is some preconceived notion
that people who study psychology and anthropology are going to waste their money on an
undergraduate education; but that could not be farther from the truth. Liberal arts majors
are going into college with the mindset of delving deeply into a subject that they have a
great interest in and want to learn as much
as possible about a topic that fascinates
them. They arent receiving an
undergraduate education with the mindset of
making six-figures after four years of
schooling. Sure, there is some validity in the
idea that well-paying jobs in these fields
require graduate level study, but why should these people be condemned for their
educational choices and desire to continue learning? Most liberal arts majors are fully
aware that they will need more than a bachelors degree to obtain their desired job, yet
they are okay with that because they are choosing to immerse themselves in a field of
great personal interest. Many professionals argue that this should be the path that all
college students follow. They should receive a broad liberal arts degree at the

undergraduate level and then continue to pursue a graduate level degree in a specific
subject of interest, such as business or engineering. As these very specific, technical
fields are constantly changing, the acquired skills of critical thinking and analyzing ideas
are consistent and will always have useful applications in a future career and in life in
general. There is no other time in your life when you will have the access to ample
academic resources and time to dedicate primarily to your education, therefore you
should use this time to learn as much as possible, especially across disciplines.
Today, one of the most important aspects of obtaining a job is the interview
process and the impression that you make on the employer. Liberal Arts degree programs
produce some of the most employable people in the country who go into a wide range of
fields such as human services, marketing, business, research, and education, just to name
a few. Interpersonal communications skills are one of the most important job
qualifications regardless of what field you are going into. While this idea is not as widely
accepted among parents and students, it is no secret to the employers. One poll done by
Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva N.Y. found that 75 percent of all parents
and 85 percent of all college-bound students believe that the goal of higher education is
to prepare for a career, while only 37 percent of business executives questioned felt that
the career should be the primary focus of higher education. These business executives
were much more supportive of learning just for learnings sake. Results of another
research poll done by Peter D. Hart Research Associates found that the most important
skills that business executives look for in potential employees are teamwork skills,
critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills, and communication skills. It comes as no
surprise that these are closely aligned with the core values of a liberal arts education. So,

if you wanted to make a case against the employability of liberal arts majors, you should
probably think again.
Furthermore, many liberal arts subjects including psychology, anthropology,
philosophy, history, as well as others are those revolving around the study of human
behavior and thought. It is incredibly hard to argue that learning about ourselves, and
those around us, is not an essential field of study. Learning about human behavior
additionally prepares students for a life
of valuable interactions and
relationships and teaches them to be
worldly individuals. Liberal arts
curricula are essential in engaging in
cross-cultural discussion and
international relations. It teaches
students to identify their own core
values and beliefs, while also being accepting of others diverse beliefs. It allows for
deliberative discussion and lesser conflict. As Martin Luther King Jr. put so eloquently,
We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus characterthat is
the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of
concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education
will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also
the accumulated experience of social living. King may not have written this article for
the Morehouse College campus newspaper with the modern liberal arts education in
mind, but years later, this is the type of education with which his ideas are still closely

aligned. As an undergraduate, Martin Luther King Jr. received a B.A. in sociology and
later went on to become one of the most prominent civil rights activists in American
history; not bad for a liberal arts major!
In addition, many liberal arts majors go into helping professions that are
extremely essential in society today. Mental health disorders are more rapidly being
diagnosed than ever before, yet politicians want to reduce the number of psychology
majors? Its ironic that Jeb Bush also publically emphasized the importance of mental
health treatment in helping to reduce gun violence. Where does he imagine that these
mental health professionals, counselors, and advocates come from? Lets not forget that
there is also groundbreaking research going on in some of these liberal arts fields. This
not only shows the importance of these fields as a whole, but, additionally, that gives
students the opportunity to learn about the scientific process, improve their analytical
skills, think critically, and draw conclusions. The research being done is helping us learn
incredibly specific information that is essential for future advancements. I can attest to
this as a nineteen-year-old undergraduate student who is currently receiving valuable
experience as a research assistant in a psychology lab that is making advancements in
field of childhood anxiety. Even if you dont wish to go into one of these helping
professions, it would undoubtedly still be beneficial to enroll in a few of these courses in
order to better understand some of the prevalent issues in society and what is being done
in response to them.
Back in October when Jeb Bush degraded liberal arts degrees, some angry
psychology majors could be seen using social media platforms, such as Twitter and
Facebook, to express their frustration and make a point with the hashtag

#ThisPsychMajor, followed by their proudest accomplishments and passion for their


field, myself included. I can guarantee that Bushs statement lost him the following of
many college students across the country and it is no surprise that he is no longer a
presidential candidate; maybe he couldve used a few more liberal arts courses in
rhetoric! This also comes as a surprise since Jeb Bush himself obtained a liberal arts
degree in Latin American studies from the University of Texas at Austin. But maybe
some liberal arts majors dont just work at Chick-Fil-A, maybe some go on to become
presidential candidates, right Jeb?

Works Cited
Fitzsimmons, Lorna. "Liberal Arts In The Modern University." Academe 102.1 (2016):
31-33. Academic Search Complete. Web.
King, Martin Luther, Jr. "The Purpose of Education." The Maroon Tiger [Atlanta] 1947:
n. pag. Print.
Masci, David. "Liberal Arts Education." CQ Researcher 10 Apr. 1998: 313-36. Web.
Pascarella, Ernest T (2013). "Lessons from the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts
Education". Change (New Rochelle, N.Y.) (0009-1383), 45 (2), p. 6.
Top Ten Things Employers Look for in New College Graduates." Association of
American Colleges & Universities. 2014. Web.
"WhatIsa21stCenturyLiberalEducation?"AssociationofAmericanColleges&
Universities.2014.Web.