The advantages and benefits of liberal arts education
These data, which are now publicly available at the institution level, contribute significantly to the research on economic returns to higher education and confirm that higher education is associated with higher earnings.
How to improve liberal arts education
The Hamilton Project, an economic policy institute at the Brookings Institution focused on promoting broad economic growth, has examined the variation in earnings across and within college majors Schanzenbach, Nunn and Nantz, ; Hershbein and Kearney, Though students may never write these kinds of papers after graduation, the skills required to complete them are highly sought after by employers. The first and penultimate categories of degrees are associated with a liberal arts education, whether offered at a liberal arts college or elsewhere, while professional, pre-professional, and engineering degrees are generally not. But so do science, math and computer sciences and many others. The privates have relatively lower net prices for the lowest income students attending their institutions compared to higher income students. While it has of course been associated with the education that is offered at liberal arts colleges, attending a liberal arts college is neither necessary nor sufficient for receiving a liberal education, and there is not even consensus about which colleges should be classified as liberal arts colleges see Ferrall, If you major in the humanities, you are not doomed to be unemployed for the rest of your life. In fact, plenty of tech industry leaders have been quoted touting the benefits of a liberal arts education. The College Board calculations exclude auxiliary enterprises, for example, including room and board. Even in the current tech-dominated economy, employers prize liberal arts graduates because of their ability to provide creative solutions. Carroll and Erkut examine the impact of additional educational expenditures on tax revenues and contributions to programs such as social security and Medicare, public expenditures on a variety of programs, and spending on prisons and jails. Even though a liberal arts education is not defined explicitly by choice of major, the insights from this line of inquiry nonetheless contribute to understanding the costs and benefits of a liberal arts education. Even though the average net price at selective public institutions is substantially lower than selective private institutions, students at selective publics are equally as likely to move into the top 40 percent of the income distribution as students from selective private institutions, both liberal arts colleges and other private non-profit institutions see Figures 17 and
The rest fall somewhere in between. Because of the different pricing structure at the publics, net prices play a more significant role in affecting the returns to individuals on investment between publics and privates for many students.
They do not have the option of receiving the education without this cost. But so do science, math and computer sciences and many others. The net return on investment 34 is reported by college type, including liberal arts colleges, 35 as well as by major and type of job.
The advantages and benefits of liberal arts education
Chetty et al. We use EOOP and College Scorecard data to explore differences in the shares of certain types of degrees awarded at liberal arts colleges compared to other colleges and universities within each selectivity grouping Figures 10 and While lower earnings in a particular occupation may suggest a lower economic return to any given investment in higher education, it may not mean that the individual is making an irrational decision. The societal costs are higher than the sticker price, since schools subsidize the educations they offer from state appropriations, gifts and grants, and earnings on endowments. To determine the best investments for individuals and society from an economic point of view, we need to understand how the costs and returns to higher education vary across educational alternatives given current and anticipated future labor markets, including identifying those alternatives that best prepare students for future labor market success given uncertainty. At the same time, the empirical evidence is limited and further empirical research is needed to better understand the value of a liberal education relative to alternatives types of higher education. What Is a Liberal Arts Education? At almost all private non-profit and public institutions, the cost is greater than the sticker price, so that all students at these institutions receive a subsidy.
Critics of liberal arts education argue that higher education focused on job skills will lead to better earnings outcomes for students and their families, and stronger economic growth for the economy. Social Responsibility — With an emphasis on civic responsibility and opportunities for community engagement, liberal arts students spend more volunteer hours than those at public universities.
There is evidence that those with more education experience lower unemployment rates, particularly in economic downturns.
Benefits of liberal arts college
Absent productivity advances to reduce the requirement for skilled labor, in the form of faculty and high-level support personnel, while maintaining quality, increased returns to skilled labor in the economy have driven up the costs of higher education. John Fisher College. Earnings impacts, however, vary across individuals and institutions depending on individual student characteristics, including their programmatic and curricular decisions, and institutional characteristics, including programmatic and curricular offerings, resources, and student body characteristics. Controlling for selectivity, the type of school appears to matter more for students moving to the top 20 percent of the income distribution than for students moving to the top 40 percent of the income distribution. Rising costs are often associated with increasing prices or net prices, but not always. There appears to be little empirical work that examines the economic benefits to society of a liberal education compared to other educational pathways. So, evidence about the lifetime earnings of those who follow pre-professional and other non-liberal arts paths is relevant to this line of criticism. They analyze problems and consider a variety of ways to solve them.
In addition, because of rising income inequality, the relationship of price or net price to family income has moved differently across the income distribution, with lower and middle income families facing higher net prices for higher education relative to income than higher income families Archibald and Feldman, They find that students with the same majors can follow very different career paths with very different earnings outcomes.
Liberal arts colleges and liberal education have been the subject of study for decades. The difference is the subsidy that the student receives, which may be covered by state appropriations at public institutions, earnings on endowments, and gifts and grants. In terms of improving the skills that economists argue are being rewarded by the labor market, Arum and Roksa find that liberal arts colleges do better than other colleges and universities at instilling these skills.
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