Amid all the hand-wringing and soul-searching that higher education is going through about the value and the cost of a liberal arts education, we lose sight of one fundamental truth - it changes lives. For the better.
Julie Winterich, associate professor of sociology and anthropology, was researching women's salaries in higher education when she came across some interesting information regarding Guilford faculty salaries. Guilford faculty and staff are some of the lowest paid in the industry.
Parents, in difficult economic times it is tempting to steer sons and daughters to focus, narrow their interests, and learn a specific set of skills that seem designed for a particular job. To thrive in the world ahead, much more is needed.
Students interested in liberal arts subjects ought to be encouraged to pursue these subjects, since we know that interest is generally a key component of success, both in completing a college degree and in acquiring the skills the graduates of today will need for the jobs of tomorrow.
Lincoln, self-educated, a versatile and critical thinker, questioned prevailing assumptions of his day, and, in his search for truth, drew upon mathematical axioms as a storehouse of principles he might apply to his political philosophy.
We know the future economy needs more Americans with a high-quality education after high school. But that training comes in many forms. Several four-year colleges operate co-op programs coupled with a liberal education, for example, preparing their graduates to launch their careers.
Since the late 1960s, the proportion of four-year college students focusing in the humanities has dropped more than 50 percent. Today, only 8 percent of college students in the United States pursue a degree in the humanities.
The Founding Fathers envisioned a Republic with an enlightened citizenry educated in "all philosophical Experiments that Light into the Nature of Things ... and multiply the Conveniences or Pleasures of Life" -- not just technical training for jobs that pay well.
The separation between arts and sciences is one of those areas where contemporary thinking has fallen behind our medieval, Roman, and Greek cultural ancestors. It's an illusion with huge unfortunate consequences.
"Raising the Bar," a recent survey of employers conducted on behalf of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, indicates clearly what a majority of employers believe college students should develop a greater understanding of.
There is nothing in the world like the American system of postsecondary education. These remarkable institutions need to be celebrated, supported, and nurtured if our country and our economy have hope of viability in the future.
Students will not show their true stuff unless they find what their "wow" factor is. They have to find the arena -- the discipline that engages them so that they do their best work -- because it interests them. Round pegs don't go in square holes.
Nothing shortcuts the dreams of 22-year-olds more than having failed to develop their talent. We can't let the future leaders and builders of our country resort to sitting in their childhood bedrooms or coffee shops taking massive online courses with strangers.
I and many of my peers were horrified when newly-inaugurated governor of North Carolina Pat McCrory blasted liberal arts higher education on a conservative talk show this week, taking specific aim at UNC-Chapel Hill, the flagship school of the public university system in the state.