In a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Michael Anft offered insights into how liberal-arts colleges have recently turned some of their attention towards ensuring that their graduates can earn a living, in addition to a renewed sense of purpose and achievement, through this innovate curriculum. For example, Anft illustrates that Carleton College, in response to “the recession and continuing anxiety among parents and students regarding a tough job market” has now developed ways to “reach all of their students early and often to get them thinking about what will happen once they pack away their caps and gowns.” While Anft acknowledges that “Career planning has long made private colleges uncomfortable” but “many now concede that they must do more to support student success after graduation — including getting them to graduate-school programs if they desire.” Carleton is by no means alone in these efforts, as Anft suggests that “Other top liberal-arts colleges, including Amherst, Bowdoin, and Colby, are also investing heavily in undergraduate career-development programs. A few have included career centers in their capital campaigns.” I attended a liberal-arts college as well and often attended my college’s career services center to find internships and summer employment.
Anft also suggests that this career preparation endeavors have not only helped students obtain more professional opportunities, but have also helped liberal arts colleges market themselves to parents and students, despite their high costs of attendance:
“Besides helping students find their way in the world, Carleton’s emphasis on postcollege success has also helped the college better answer questions posed by prospective students and their parents, many of whom are concerned that the high cost of an education may not add up to better opportunities in the long term.”
I think these initiatives are important endeavors, especially for liberal-arts colleges. While I believe the liberal-arts are a tremendous, life-long gift that transformed me into a life-long learner, I understand why some may have qualms about this type of education’s profitability.