This has travelled a bit from metalsmithing to the purpose of a
college education. And there, I think, lies the problem. Many people
today mistakenly think college is a place to learn a trade. It is
not. When done properly, a liberal arts education is a place to
learn how to THINK - a thing many people today are NOT very good at!
It is a place to learn to question, to explore, to examine, and to
determine your own truths. To learn to listen, to converse, and to
understand that others may have different opinions. To learn to
defend your own opinions well and politely. To stretch your
understanding and ability.
Yes, it may also provide you with career basics, but if you go with
that as the sole purpose you are missing the biggest benefits of a
genuine liberal arts education.
Just as someone mentioned that having a business degree had allowed
them to do a wide range of jobs successfully, and good genuine
liberal arts education, in ANY field, will allow the recipient to
successfully move in a huge range of directions - because they have
learned how to think, to plan, to execute, to follow through, to
research - and most importantly, to communicate!
Just dropped my teenager off at what we hope is an excellent small
liberal arts college (College of Wooster in Ohio). She is there to
learn how to learn, how to communicate better. Her major? History.
Big bucks down the road? I seriously doubt it!!!. But happy person
doing what they love? You bet!
With the background Wooster will give her, she will be able to
tackle almost anything once she graduates. Yes, she may need
additional training or skills - but she will now how to get them and
get the most out of them.
So if you have a teenager who wants to learn a specific trade, send
them to trade school - much more efficient for them! If they want to
learn to learn, and are genuinely interested in the life of the
mind, then send them to a GOOD liberal arts college or university.
This will give them the foundation to jump in whatever direction they
Do be aware that most kids DO change their minds about what they
want to do. Mine has been passionate about history all her life, and
has been doing original research since the 8th grade - this does NOT
mean she won’t change her mind about what she wants as she is exposed
to more options and ideas. Same with someone in trade school. They
may think now that is all they want; down the road they may decide
differently. Plenty of folks enroll in college later - no problem
Just don’t send them to college thinking you are funding a job
training experience. It might be that, but that is not, nor should
it be, the primary goal. That would be an extra added benefit.
Beth in SC who will now get off her soap box