Short Answer: Liberal Arts Degree

by The Dartmouth Opinion Staff | 4/25/10 10:00pm

Friday's Verbum Ultimum addressed simultaneous trends toward competition and placing a premium on practical skills. Is a focus on pure liberal arts still relevant in today's world, or should the College focus more on pre-professional training?

The best kind of real world training comes from the real world. The College should make learning relevant to the world today, but save the pre-professional training for internships.Spenser Mestel '11

Anyone who has entered the job market without a college degree knows that learning for the sake of learning is a notion for the privileged. In America today, failing to get a college degree will cost tens of thousands of dollars in lost income over a lifetime. Pretending that a college degree isn't a commodity is a belief that only students at elite liberal arts institutions can afford to hold.Emily Johnson '12

The relevance of a liberal arts education has no bearing on the direction of academics at our College. Dartmouth is a liberal arts school, and the onus is on the prospective student to decide whether a liberal arts education will serve him or her in post-collegiate life. Those who are interested in receiving strictly pre-professional training need not apply.Kevin Niparko '12

Professional excellence requires an unprecedented level of specialization. Vocational pigeonholing makes pre-professional training irrelevant, since specialized skills are best learned on the job. Undergraduate education should be spent building core learning skills, general knowledge and values through a liberal arts curriculum.Charles Clark '11

I don't even think that this is a legitimate debate. The College has been focused on the liberal arts for over two hundred years and will undoubtedly continue to do so. Besides, we already have the highest median salaries of any university in the nation 10 years after graduation.Josh Kornberg '13The college must, must, must retain its commitment to liberal arts. The pressure to be practically trained and overtly competitive can be very real, depressing and confusing. But, as my mother always told me, art is what makes us human; a world with out artists, historians, writers, philosophers and actors would be a very sad place, indeed. A commitment to the liberal arts is the best way to produce well-rounded leaders who are both practical and, perhaps more importantly, creative.Emily Baxter '11

A college education can be seen in two ways. Either it is preparation for a career, or preparation for a successful lifetime of the mind. Practicality -- often the pursuit of self-service and personal success -- implies a path to success according to established social structures. I believe a liberal arts education once meant endowing students with the power to interpret, criticize and redesign those structures. It is sad to see many students and even senior administrators debase the transcendent power of liberal arts, when it shapes the mind for a lifetime of meaningful personal reflection and productive thinking.Zachary Gottlieb '10

Many high school students coming to Dartmouth are unsure of which discipline they want to focus on when they arrive. For this reason, it is important that the College continue to emphasize a well-rounded, liberal arts education in order to produce students who can make an educated decision on which career path they would like to follow after graduation.Natalie Colaneri '12

A liberal education is not only relevant today but also necessary. Each year brings the invention of new industries, the discarding of old theories and the discovery of new knowledge. An education grounded in theory, the liberal arts and the history of human experience will prepare us for life and careers in this changing world much better than narrow professional training ever could.Brendan Woods '13