How can liberal arts colleges address waning confidence?
- Since 2008, the number of Wellesley College students pursuing liberal arts degrees has declined by 14%, while enrollment in STEM programs has increased by nearly 30%, Inside Higher Ed reported. College officials are concerned about this statistic, about the perceived value of these programs and their prospects for postgraduate employment success.
- Some officials offer that the decline is attributable to the dramatic increase of women pursuing degrees and professions in which they have been historically underrepresented, in addition to campuses becoming more aggressive in promoting dual majors and interdisciplinary studies more than they have in the past.
- Experts say that colleges should do a more effective job in showing students across all majors how their interests and industrial training helps to solve problems in order to create clearer pathways for career entry and interest.
While career center usage is in decline at college campuses across the country, many institutions are seeking ways to more deeply integrate liberal arts thinking and training into more the more in-demand fields of technology and science. Colleges have an opportunity to promote entrepreneurship and start-up culture among liberal arts students, to help in broadening their definitions of jobs and employment after graduation.
This kind of engagement not only adds value to the student experience and perceptions of the utility of college, but also lays the groundwork for students to return as active donors and university advocates once they fully embark upon their careers.