Liberal Arts earnings…40 years later

- By Dr. Di

Recent findings from a study conducted by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce sound pretty important, at least on the surface:  Liberal arts majors who graduated from Liberal Arts colleges had higher overall earnings (25% higher) than non-liberal arts grads 40 years after completing their degrees.  Sure, their earnings 10 years after graduation were 25% lower, but they eventually caught up—and excelled–over their lifetimes.

Should these results affect your career and college choices now?  Maybe not.

First of all, the cost of a college education has mushroomed since the 80s, when these research subjects graduated.  Today, college debt can be sizable, and the government and banks don’t want you to put off paying off those loans, waiting for your earnings to maximize.  Nor would you want to. Secondly, 40 years ago having a college degree gave you an elite status—that of a college-educated person.  Employers hired you because you had the credential and could be trained for the job. Not so much now.  Employers today have lots of college grads to choose from and can look for the specific knowledge and skillset that is needed to hit the ground running in the workplace.  And you may not get those skills with a degree in one of the liberal arts. Think about it.