A guide to what college rankings don't tell you.

What Employers Say

What Will They Learn?® promotes a liberal arts education because a rigorous liberal arts program is the most reliable path to success. The workforce demands graduates who are intellectually agile, broadly skilled, and creative. A liberal arts education with a focus on core collegiate skills will enable students’ career success and upward trajectory.

College-bound students, their parents, and taxpayers worry that a liberal arts path will limit career opportunities. This is not true. A liberal arts degree opens up a world of career possibilities. Students who have a strong liberal arts education go on to become lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs, and CEOs; and they are among the most likely to rise into the management ranks of their professions.

Many employers actively seek out college graduates with liberal arts backgrounds, which often translates into an earnings premium for professionals with training in the humanities. The claim that students with a liberal arts education will not find financial success in the workplace is also false. A rigorous and coherent core curriculum, focused on courses in traditional arts and sciences disciplines, is the best way for students to develop the capacity for critical analysis, oral and written communication skills, and intercultural fluency that employers increasingly demand.

Do not take our word for it. This page provides data and employers’ stories on the importance of a liberal arts education in their employees and in their own personal lives.

Quick Facts

A recent survey shows that “those who take more than half of their course work in subjects unrelated to their majors (a characteristic of liberal arts colleges but not professionally oriented colleges) are 31 to 72 percent more likely than others to have higher-level positions and to be earning more than $100,000 than are others.”

The National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Job Outlook 2018 survey found that employers are looking for well-rounded students with the following skills, all of which can be found in a liberal arts education:

  • 72.6% seek candidates with good leadership skills.
  • 82.9% want graduates with the ability to work in a team.
  • 80.3% need employees with good written communication skills.
  • 82.9% look for workers with good problem-solving skills.
  • 67.5% prioritize employees with excellent verbal communication skills.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “individuals born from 1957 to 1964 held an average of 11.9 jobs from ages 18 to 50.” While technical degrees prepare you for a specific skill, the liberal arts teach you how to think and make you more versatile in order to prepare you for those job changes.

Articles Promoting the Liberal Arts

Recent news coverage about the necessity of the liberal arts in the workforce can be found below.

Is Majoring in English Worth It?”
by William McGurn
August 9, 2019
“Why employers value a liberal arts degree”
by Study International Staff
May 15, 2019
“How business schools and the liberal arts mesh”
by Emory University’s Goizueta Business School
April 19, 2019




Additional Resources

George Anders’s book You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a “Useless” Liberal Arts Education explains the potential power of a liberal arts degree for those who want to succeed in the workplace across all sectors. You can purchase this book here.

A copy of our flyer for high school counselors and parents on employer dissatisfaction with the deficient skills of recent college graduates in the eyes of employers can be found here. Become acquainted with these observations of deficiencies in order to make informed choices during your college course selections.

If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us at WWTL@GoACTA.org.