Throughout my freshmen year of college, I came face to face with the standard, but absolutely terrifying question: What do I want to major in?
I really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up. Apprehensive and afraid of unemployment, I racked my brain for a major that could guarantee success.
I initially toyed with film, but eventually scared myself out of pursuing a degree that was so determinative on hit or miss success. In my current history and political science majors, I’m confident about my future prospects, and finding a job with my future degrees isn’t something I worry about.
But to many, the ever-encroaching societal belief that business or engineering are some of the only ways to be successful after college influences choice. Just look at the Twitter banter between humanities, STEM and business students, often taking shape of, “Yeah, well I’ll have a job and you won’t.”
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Letters and Sciences, the largest college at the University of Wisconsin, with some 16,000 students, is trying to break away from this mold and away from these beliefs. According to Chancellor Rebecca Blank, the new career center, SuccessWorks, will “… transform how we prepare liberal arts students for careers and bring us that much closer to our goal of integrating career readiness into students’ experiences.”
UW is trying to ensure that its L&S students have the same opportunities and provide the same amount of support that Ivy league and small liberal arts school provide their students.
Furthermore, the goal of the space is to help build connections with academics and professionals and will offer career-boosting potentials such as professional headshots and networking for interviews, amongst other helpful services.
SuccessWorks has a whole section of tips and resources to help L&S students navigate the intimidating world of jobs, internships and graduate school applications, with topics ranging from resume and cover letter formatting, interview preparation and finding internship money cover the pages.
It’s all in an attempt to boost perceptions of liberal arts degrees and prepare students for a future with their degrees. For many, a resource like this is the exact thing that will reassure them that their academic interests are valid and worth pursuing.
While cliché, there’s indispensable value in the liberal arts. An education like one obtained from L&S offers students perspective from around the world, providing instruction in critical thinking that ultimately aims to make its obtainers not only better students, but better people.
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Similarly, a liberal arts education allows for furthering of faculty and student relationships, that offer bountiful success past graduation itself. In a recent study, it was shown that those who reach out to faculty are twice as likely to take on leadership roles later in life. Some of the most memorable academic experiences can be going in for office hours and having a quick question on readings evolve into a long conversation about anything and everything. The liberal arts offers a way to build connections and to gain a set of resources and tools that will help foster future connections and success in any career trajectory.
Pursuing a degree in L&S should not be something that seems like a risk for incoming students. It’s a vibrant and valuable school whose degrees will bring success in one way or another. Over the past couple years, there has been increased bias towards liberal arts education, causing many to question its value. But it’s not inexorable. There’s no reason not to be proud and confident in your major or school. That’s what SuccessWorks is going to prove.
Adam Ramer ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in history and political science.