Whether it be from visiting students and families, new acquaintances, or old family members, I am probably asked what my major is at least once a day. After replying “political science and French with a minor in statistics” the question that almost always immediately follows is, “so what are you going to do with that?” This loaded question seems to stem from an area of concern for my future, what possible career field would be available to a liberal arts major? My standard reply is, “haha, that’s a good question, I don’t know, maybe go to law school or get a Master’s in public policy or something like that.” This answer is typically seen as sufficient enough for them and allows me to shift the conversation topic somewhere else. The reality is, I have a variety of interests that may lead me down these paths or they may not; that’s not something I can really explain in a light hearted conversation but it is something I can explain here.
Any quick Google search for “why study liberal arts” will give you a plethora of fantastic results regarding the value of the degree. They speak to its versatility and usefulness and I encourage any inquisitive individual to check them out. A lot of these reasons are what motivated me to choose my degree program. At 17 years old, I really wasn’t one for making decisions regarding the rest of my adult life so I chose a degree that could be applied in a variety of professions that didn’t tie me down specifically to a type of engineering or an aspect of business. These are fantastic areas of study for people who have a genuine interest in these fields but they were not fantastic for me.
The reason why every student is required to take classes through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is because the skills that you can develop in these classes are useful for every career field. Everybody needs to be able to communicate effectively, analyze situations, and think about the variety of causes of problems in order to solve them. These are all hallmarks of the over 50 areas of study offered by LAS.
I am a very curious person and a liberal arts degree was the perfect way for me satisfy that curiosity. Political science is a social science that allows me to develop my research skills while helping me discover why social and governmental institutions function the way they do and how that affects people’s daily lives. Humanities like French allow me to explore what motivates human behavior and its role in shaping culture while statistics allows me to increase my technical knowledge and use an analytical part of my brain focused on determining relationships and significance. These skills can be difficult to directly demonstrate and are even more difficult to learn. They can only be developed over time with practice and I’m proud that I can develop them during my four years at Iowa State through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
I see my time in college as a time to develop myself as a person, I have the rest of my life to learn specific competencies that are relevant in our constantly changing world. Making the decision to study liberal arts has given me the time to volunteer on a political campaign, coordinate a blog, be a mentor, meet the governor, and so many other things. I can take what I’ve learned about people, interaction and communication and apply it to numerous campus leadership positions. If I can apply the knowledge I’ve gained during my time in college now, I am confident that I will apply it to in whatever career path I choose.
I’ve learned the importance of taking pride in your major and not letting it be a source of stress about the future but a source of enjoyment and self fulfilment for the present to set up for a successful future. That brings us back to the infamous “what are you going to do with that?” question. I suppose a more accurate response would be, “haha, that’s a good question, I don’t know, maybe go to law school or get my Master’s in public policy…or maybe work in a marketing department, a PR firm, or for the President of the United States, I don’t know. What I do know is that the possibilities are endless and whatever I do end up choosing will be something I thoroughly enjoy.”