Liberal Arts at Lakeland
Employers value well-rounded job applicants with a liberal arts education, according to a recent survey of 318 decision-makers at U.S. companies.
The survey, conducted by Hart Research Associates on behalf of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), provides strong evidence that company decision-makers are most interested in job candidates’ ability to think critically, communicate verbally and solve complex problems. A large majority of those surveyed (93 percent) ranked those skills as more important than a prospect’s undergraduate major.
A liberal arts education, one that focuses on broad knowledge in a variety of areas as well as knowledge in a specific field of interest, is critically important, 94 percent of those surveyed said. Nearly three in four surveyed employees (74 percent) said they would recommend a liberal arts education to their own children.
Lakeland College has valued the tenets of a liberal arts education for more than 150 years. Lakeland’s curriculum stresses critical thinking, hands-on learning, internships, extracurricular activities, community involvement, professor-student interaction and broad knowledge.
Lakeland College President Dan Eck said Lakeland strives to provide its students with those types of skills sets with its liberal arts education platform.
“No matter the major—business, art, computer science, or criminal justice—all of our programs are built upon a traditional liberal arts foundation,” Eck said.
“This commitment to the liberal arts enhances our students’ critical thinking and communication skills, teaches them how to be inquisitive and well-informed citizens, and makes our graduates stand out from the rest. We challenge our students to think deeply about the questions they will face as professionals and community members.”
Among the conclusions of the survey, according to the 15-page report:
- Employers recognize capacities that cut across majors as critical to a candidate’s potential for career success, and they view these skills as more important than a student’s choice of undergraduate major.
- Eighty percent of those surveyed agreed that, regardless of major, every college student should acquire broad knowledge of the liberal arts and sciences.
- Employers strongly endorse educational practices that involve students in active, effortful work – practices including collaborative problem-solving, internships, research, senior projects and community engagements.
- There is broad agreement among employers that all students, regardless of chosen field of study, should have educational experiences that teach them about building civic capacity, broad knowledge about the liberal arts and sciences and cultures outside the United States.
We believe our “General Studies” program is the heart and soul of Lakeland’s liberal arts approach to education.
No matter which major you choose during your Lakeland College journey, you will also be immersed in our General Studies curriculum, where you will gain important lifelong skills and explore the many, varied disciplines of the liberal arts.
Our General Studies program stresses and enhances critical thinking and oral and written communication skills, which are so sought after by the employers who make hiring decisions. You will graduate from Lakeland College a well-rounded and versatile person, someone who can communicate clearly, who has the ability to solve problems, and who’s equipped with a broad base of knowledge.
According to Professor Jeff Elzinga, chair of the general studies division, “Our faculty have been saying for many years that Lakeland prepares students not only to make a living, but also to make a life. That’s especially true today.”
The liberal arts focus of our General Studies program will help you do both, and it will give you an edge over students at other schools who choose an education that only specializes in one narrowly focused subject.
For the second time in six months, a new major study has suggested that employers value graduates from liberal arts institutions over those with more narrowly defined educational backgrounds.
Northeastern University released its public-opinion survey, which was conducted by FTI Consulting, on Sept. 17. Findings were based on interviews with more than 260 employers.
According to results from the survey, as reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education, employers want colleges and universities to produce graduates who can think critically and creatively and who can communicate verbally and through writing.
Nearly 75 percent of employers agreed with the statement: “Being well-rounded with a range of abilities is more important than having industry expertise, because job-specific skills can be learned at work.”
These findings are in line with a previous poll of employers that the Association of American Colleges and Universities released earlier this summer.
Lakeland’s faculty members embrace a personal teaching style. They know our students by name, not number. They attend our students’ athletic events. They happily write personal letters of recommendation. Lakeland is proud of its small-school identity, and it shows.
Following is a small sampling of our professors’ thoughts about how much they care about their students. Doesn’t their passion shine through?
“You’ve got a group of faculty members here who are truly committed to students’ success. At Lakeland, you get faculty who really, deeply care about the students. We spend a lot of time thinking about how we can help our students become the great leaders and thinkers we know they can be.”
-Joshua Kutney, instructor of general studies
“We set up tutors for our courses, and there is incredible student access to our faculty, which you wouldn’t find at a large-scale research university. At those, you may have office hours for faculty members that are one hour a week, two hours a week. Our faculty members are available.”
-Paul Pickhardt, natural sciences division chair
“We take great pride in the personal attention we give our students. We don’t just know them as students; we know them as people. We know what they want to do with their lives and why. What’s special for students here is that ability to interact with their faculty members on a personal level. We want that personal interaction with students. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be here. The students are our lives.”
-Greg Smith, associate professor of biology
“This is an amazing place in part because of the relationships students enjoy with faculty here. By the time students leave, they are pretty much lifelong friends with the faculty.”
-Karl Elder, Fessler Professor of Creative Writing & Poet in Residence
At Lakeland College, we believe wholeheartedly in the value of a liberal arts education. We urge and encourage our young men and women to be well-rounded and open-minded in their academic pursuits.
Recent studies indicate that many employers prefer to hire college graduates with liberal arts educational backgrounds. Why? Because these graduates are often more able and willing to be flexible, solve problems and adapt.
Following is a small sampling of our professors’ thoughts on the value of a liberal arts education.
“In my mind, the value of a liberal arts education is that it helps you prepare for anything. The world is changing faster than we can possibly imagine, and with the tools and basic skills of critical thinking, communication, problem solving and cross disciplinary thinking, a liberal arts education helps graduates prepare for just about anything that’s going to come their way in the future.”
-Meg Albrinck, VP for Academic Affairs & Professor of Literature and Writing
“The value of a liberal arts education is that employers want critical thinkers. Well-rounded people are what they want. They don’t want pillars of specialization.”
-Cynthia Lindstrom, assistant professor of computer science
“Liberal arts provide the full package, and I would guess most CEOs and small business owners agree. Employees that have liberal arts degrees are well-rounded in so many ways, including the way they interact with others and the way they present themselves.”
-Katie Shumway, Spanish instructor
“What we hear from employers over and over and over again is that they want graduates who can think critically, problem solve and communicate effectively. They say to us, ‘We can do the training.’ What’s most important to those employers is not that graduates come out of college with a particular technical skill, but that in addition to their skills, they can think critically, express themselves well and solve problems. Those are the basic elements of a liberal arts education.”
-Karl Kuhn, associate professor of religion