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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 University 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.

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.

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