It’s About Time

According to the Wall Street Journal, employers are newly hot on the trail of hires with liberal arts and humanities degrees.

Class of 2015 graduates from those disciplines are employed at higher rates than their cohorts in the class of 2014, and starting salaries rose significantly, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The pay numbers show employers are seeking hires with communication skills and comfort in multicultural environments.

Even though I teach business, I have long been a strong advocate for the liberal arts and humanities. Every year I tell my freshmen students, many of whom will double major within the business school (finance and accounting, marketing and business analytics, etc.) to instead consider having just one major in the business school and then picking up a second one outside the business school.

The advice usually falls on deaf ears, as probably less than 5% of our business students have another major outside the business school, while I would estimate that 60% of the students have two majors int eh business school.

I try to tell students that having just one business major is enough to get you a job. Once you start working, your employer will help you acquire additional skills needed for your job, and you can certainly take on such responsibility yourself as well.

However, college is often the last opportunity that a person will have to take history or English courses, and that is why I encourage students to take advantage of such opportunities.

That’s why I was quite happy to see the story in the WSJ about the improved job market for non-business students. I think many students choose business because they believe that will enhance the likelihood of landing a job when they graduate. That may be true initially, but research shows that such students catch up with their business major peers after a few years on the job.

So if job prospects for arts and humanities students is approaching that of business students, that would seem to eliminate that as a reason for picking business over liberal arts.

And if a student decides to major in the liberal arts, at least at Villanova, there are opportunities to pick up a business minor. I’ve written before about one of those options, our Summer Business Institute, which offers students the chance to pick up a business minor in one summer.

Please don’t view this post as anti-business majors; I think studying business is a great option, if that is something you are interested in. If you are only doing it because of the job prospects, that does not seem like a good reason.

At least for now, it seems that students can major in something they are passionate about, and there is a good chance that they will still find a job when they graduate.

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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