The Difficulty Of Defining Liberal Arts

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A far-reaching umbrella term, liberal arts encapsulates sciences, arts, humanities, and the subdivisions therein. Given its wide range, pinpointing precisely what is and what isn’t a liberal arts degree can be challenging.

First used in Ancient Greece, the term “liberal arts” has developed extensively over time, so what exactly is a liberal arts degree?

Defining Liberal Arts

In Ancient Greece, defining liberal arts was much more straightforward. It referred to grammar, arithmetic, philosophy, and rhetoric, and it was taught to prepare young Greeks for the city-state. The Romans copied this definition but renamed it ‘humanitas.’ 

By the Middle Ages, liberal arts were split into quadrivium, which referred to astronomy, geometry, music, and mathematics, and trivium, which referred to rhetoric, logic, and grammar. 

In 1828, the Yale Report narrowed down liberal arts to the analysis, evaluation, and communication of complex subject matter. 

Today, a liberal arts degree generally refers to majors that fall under the bracket of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and the arts. Liberal arts subjects center around analysis, critical thinking, and communicating these ideas in speech or writing. 

Where To Earn a Liberal Arts Degree 

Most colleges and universities will have a liberal arts school within their offerings, but there are liberal arts colleges dedicated exclusively to this field of study. 

In these colleges, students generally partake in several classes under the liberal arts bracket, focusing on each subject’s specific connection to the outside world – not just the job prospects they open for you. 

Things To Consider 

Many people are drawn to liberal arts degrees through natural passions. However, if you are unsure whether you should enroll in a related degree, consider the following factors.

Liberal arts degrees can be vague in their job prospects. Particularly in the art side of things, a job opportunity may not immediately manifest for you after graduation. Therefore, it may take a bit of time and continued effort to get anywhere with a liberal arts degree, especially if you seek to earn a lot of money. 

As mentioned earlier, liberal arts degrees tend to revolve around analysis and communication. The latter would involve writing long-winding essays, speaking publicly, and involving yourself in open debates and discussions. If you shy away from open discussion, a liberal arts degree may not be the best option for you. 

Concluding Thoughts

Liberal arts degrees are the best option for those looking to hone in on their critical thinking, analysis, writing, communication, and debating skills. They are extremely valuable degrees to have, and although the job prospects may not be too well-defined, liberal arts degrees can open up a wide range of opportunities.

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