Arts students should be prepared for employment, not excluded

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Students pursuing liberal arts degrees face more criticism than their peers in other disciplines because of their major’s perceived irrelevance in the job market. It’s up to faculties to adapt to these heightened and fluctuating expectations.
 
As workplaces value interpersonal ability, students who spend the bulk of their degrees writing essays are disadvantaged upon graduation.  
 
When an engineering student completes their first-year project, the equations they used might not apply to their work after graduation. Rather, their mandatory teamwork and critical thinking are clearly linked to the workplace. It sets engineering students apart from arts students in their preparation for the real world.
 
Being able to close read The Iliad in first-year English isn’t necessarily  shown to be applicable to an arts student’s future. This strict academic perspective on learning disadvantages arts students. It fails to provide them with any explicit connection between classroom skills and the professional world. 
 
A student taught with an exclusively academic outlook has a harder time applying their knowledge to future workplace expectations. 
 
A calculus course isn’t more valuable in the workforce than a literature class. However, faculties such as Engineering and Commerce place the skills they teach students—like communication and leadership—in the context of possible career paths. 
 
This isn’t to say writing a cohesive essay is easy, but in the context of a changing job market, mastering it as a skill alone doesn’t suffice or appeal to employers.
 
English students considering careers outside academic pursuits often find themselves seeking out opportunities like The Journal or Queen’s Pre-Law Society. These extra-curriculars prove the skills arts students have can translate into profitable employment. But this is an independent pursuit—the education they pay for doesn’t provide them with these opportunities.  
 
The onus is on liberal arts students to be proactive, whereas in other faculties it’s embedded in the fabric of their expectations. Arts courses don’t prepare students for life after university, and they should.
 
The perceived lack of real-world application for arts degrees could be easily changed by the ArtSci facultyembracing a more tangible approach to the way students demonstrate their learning. 
 
A faculty-specific day where ArtSci alumni in established professions—lawyers, journalists or politicians—network with students would be a strong first step to mitigating this. 
 
A more realistic view of how students apply their liberal arts educations would allow them to leverage their critical analysis abilities into a tangible professional advantage. It’s up to the faculty and University administration to adapt to this evolving culture. 
 
Ultimately, these types of changes could minimize the stigma toward liberal arts degrees—highlighting their relevance and improving students’ confidence when pursuing their academic passions. 
 
Sophia is The Journal’s Opinions Editor. She’s a second-year English major.
 

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