The shortest distance between a set of two points is a straight line. It does not take a mathematical genius to compute this well-known fact. The problem is that, when evaluating direction in life, it is very easy to try to cling to the straight line while being dragged in different directions and forming zig-zag patterns. Straying from one’s goal path has been cast in a negative light by some, especially for a generation that is heavily associated with having the symptoms of ADD. What is often seen as less significant is the importance of a well-rounded and open-minded approach to learning incorporated into a liberal arts education.
TCU employs this approach into the core of its curriculum, and sometimes as a student it is hard to see the pay-off. Being trained in practical skills and learning by experience can be argued as a way to save time and money. What lies at the heart of that statement is that certain information and skills are seen as valuable commodities while other pursuits are frivolous.
A recent study done by Hardwick Day evaluated the experiences of alumni from a variety of institutions both liberal arts-based and not, to see how they profited from their education. It asked those who had developed their careers over time with graduation years ranging from the 1970-1995 as opposed to recent grads. It found that alumni of liberal arts-based colleges tended to value community involvement and social justice, utilize communication skills to write, analyze, and think critically and effectively and stay involved with their campus after graduation.
From personal experience and talking to some of my classmates, I can attest to the connections found when exploring a broad range of subjects. Many people I know have found their major and passion through an introductory level course that was taken to fill a core requirement. One nurse from Christendom College, said that she would not have the tools to make life-or-death decisions when dealing with hospice patients if not for her liberal arts education. Alumni from Lewis and Clark University also said that by experiencing travel abroad, which is encouraged in liberal arts education, they are now able to work abroad through the U.N. and self start-up companies.
Impacting others and really changing the world can be done when students are provided with different perspectives and classes that are not narrowly focused on obtaining one specific skill. New reports from The Association of American Colleges and Universities promote liberal arts learning across the board,from those going into fields such as medicine as well as humanities. Sometimes it is difficult to step off of the track for a while, but once you do you might see something that was out of sight before. Students should be proud of TCU’s liberal arts core.
Sarah Greufe is a journalism major from Ardmore, OK.