“Liberal arts degree” is actually considered, by some, to be an insult. It carries a demeanor that refers to somebody being useless, as a liberal arts degree tends to be considered as useless.
First of all, no, I don’t think a liberal arts degree is useless, I have a liberal arts degree, and I think the remark is absolutely ridiculous.
The “artsy” college graduate is ridiculed because their pursuits did not involve something considered practical. They didn’t study business from a financial standpoint. They didn’t study medicine that could save lives. They didn’t learn a skill that is easily quantified and calculated.
They learned a skill that can be applied to many, many positions, in fact. That skill I’m talking about isn’t writing or drawing, by the way. It’s not sculpting or painting, and it’s certainly not acting. No, that’s not the skill I’m talking about. I’m talking about creativity.
Most of my friends from high school were either business majors or majors of various different sciences. I have friends studying to become veterinarians, pharmacists and doctors. I’ve been with them while they all study together, cramming information and memorizing terminology. I’ve heard them talk about how to solve certain formulas and finishing up lab reports. All the while, I was finishing up Beowulf so I could move on and read more chapters of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. It’s very easy to see why my major is so ridiculed, but life is more than just numbers and reports.
An English major doesn’t just read a story and understand it for what it is. An art major doesn’t look at a painting and think of it as a simple display. There is no one way to look at something so abstract and complex. They think outside of the box, they think of different possibilities and messages the work conveys. Liberal arts majors are learning to think with an abstract mind. They’re trained to study everything outside of the box; to consider every single possibility, and to keep an open mind as often as possible.
You’re probably thinking what this all has to do with the business world. I promise, there’s a point to all of this. Just have an open mind.
Those who live creatively tend to be interested in other creative things. This involves movies, television programs, books, art, and yes, even internet memes. These people tend to be heavily involved with what’s popular, and with today’s society, it’s easier than ever to be involved on the internet. Things that one would consider trivial, and meaningless.
Now, take a look at Arby’s social media sites. Yes, the restaurant. Yes, I’m serious! Look at what they post. They dress up their food to represent popular characters, symbols and objects from video games and television shows. They make inside jokes regarding nerd culture. They make reference to daily fitness struggles. They cater to what’s popular today in every sense of the word. They’re getting creative with their social media outreach, and it’s working.
What it comes down to is this: those who are creative and went to school to be creative were war-torn into thinking abstractly about even the simplest of concepts, and coming up with different ways to describe the same thing. Those who went to school for business tend to focus closer to the facts, the numbers and productivity. Both are absolutely essential traits for a business, despite being very different and almost quite opposite. They do say opposites attract.
So the next time you try to use “liberal arts degree” as an insult? Remember that someday, that liberal arts degree could be saving you a ton of money on a marketing campaign because they thought of something so wild and outlandish, that it worked like a charm. In a world so surrounded by social media, creativity has never been more important. Everything moves so fast and the same content is constantly being pushed out. Thinking outside of the box is the only way to stay relevant and to get noticed.