Policymakers | General Education

A Liberal Arts Education

NEW YORK TIMES   |  December 19, 2012 by Anne Neal

Letter to the Editor: 

Florida is the latest state to propose offering incentives for college students toward “high demand” majors, including STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and health care fields (“To Steer Students Toward Jobs, Florida May Cut Tuition for Select Majors,” news article, Dec. 10).

This makes sense, particularly for businesses struggling to find employees with the skills to succeed in today’s high-tech economy. But American competitiveness also depends on students’ acquiring a wide range of general knowledge that provides critical thinking and communication skills that will enable graduates to take up new jobs—jobs that we can’t imagine today.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person held 11 different jobs between ages 18 and 46. Employer surveys, moreover, show that graduates lack basic competencies that a liberal arts education provides.

Gov. Rick Scott is correct: Florida’s higher education needs reform. However, the push for vocation-specific majors should not absolve education leaders from the obligation of ensuring a rigorous liberal arts foundation.

President, American Council of Trustees and Alumni


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

Discover More