McCrory wrongfully condemns liberal arts degrees

On Feb. 12, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory bashed the inclusion of liberal arts majors at public universities. McCrory believes that liberal arts majors “have no chance of getting people jobs” and should be taught in private colleges.

McCrory is mistaken.

And Vice President for Student Affairs Aaron Fetrow believes it is up to Guilford to prove McCrory wrong.

“I think it is critical for those of us leading liberal arts colleges to make the opposite case made by the governor,” said Fetrow in an email interview. “We need to remind our business leaders of the thousands of successful business people who came to business with degrees in the liberal arts.  We must make a strong argument for the analytical and life skills learned at places like Guilford.”

“I don’t want to subsidize (liberal arts majors) if that’s not going to get someone a job,” said McCrory in a national radio interview with Bill Bennett.

McCrory’s belief that a liberal arts degree will not get one a job is incorrect. Recent grads with a degree in architecture have a 13.9 percent unemployment rate, while English Literature majors had a 9.2 percent rate according to a study by Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workplace.

The study also found that mechanical engineers and computer science majors had a higher unemployment rate than communication majors. A liberal arts degree is worth just as much as a trade degree.

Professor of Psychology Richie Zweigenhaft believes that a liberal arts degree is not just about learning a trade.

“It’s really a degree that’s designed to teach people to read effectively, to write effectively, to think both critically and creatively,” said Zweigenhaft. “People will say ‘what can you do with a philosophy degree?‘ and the answer is you can do all kinds of things with a philosophy degree.”

A liberal arts degree is valuable because it helps mold independent critical thinkers who have the ability to question the world that they live in. A liberal arts degree develops creative, innovative thinkers.

Students should be able to study things like Race, Class and Gender, Shakespeare in Film or the History of Rock because these classes allow students to think critically and not just about money.

College is not just about finding a skill that one can turn into an occupation. It is about finding one’s passion.

I am undecided, like many first-year students, and love that I have the ability to choose from an array of liberal arts majors.

“If you want to take a gender studies, that’s fine,” said McCrory. “Go to a private school and take it.”

But if public universities did not offer liberal arts majors, private colleges would be at an advantage. Public universities would be a place for learning a skill while private universities would have students who think critically.

This is problematic. Kids who go to private schools usually have more money than kids who must go to state schools. Why only offer creativity and critical thinking skills to families with money?

This would upset the balance between private and public universities and allow students with money to gain yet another advantage over the students who attend public universities.

Zweigenhaft believes that training for a trade is not wrong, but taking liberal arts out of public education is dangerous.

“Many public universities do have tracks for pre-professional training,” said Zweigenhaft. “I’m not against that. But to take the liberal arts out of public education, what that says to me is ‘We’re no longer going to emphasize the big questions or critical thinking but prepare people to be workers in a corporate world.’”

Does McCrory want to create a generation incapable of critical thinking, destined for mindless careers?

Before McCrory writes off liberal arts majors as useless, look at what allowed him to become successful: he went to Catawba College, a liberal arts college in North Carolina.

A world in which everyone is trained for a job does not sound like America. It sounds like “1984.”