Critics of the Liberal Arts Are Wrong

Yes, science and tech are important, but a new report shows that employers prize a more broadly-based education

  • Share
  • Read Later
Getty Images

The question of whether our government should promote science and technology or the liberal arts in higher education is not an either-or proposition, although the current emphasis on preparing young Americans for STEM-related fields can make it seem that way.

(MORE: College Costs: Would Tuition Discounts Get More Americans to Major in Science?)

I sat on a commission put together by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to explore this very question, and the subsequent congressional report, released today, acknowledges the critical importance of technical training but also asserts without equivocation that the study of the humanities and social sciences must remain central components of America’s educational system at all levels. Both areas are critical to producing citizens who can participate effectively in our democratic society, become innovative leaders and benefit from the spiritual enrichment that the contemplation of ethics, morals, aesthetics and the great ideas over time can provide.

The commission was created in 2011 at the request of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives and in a time of great economic uncertainty and insecurity. Parents and students who have invested heavily in higher education fret about graduates’ job prospects as technological advances and changes in domestic and global markets transform professions in ways that reduce wages and cut jobs. Under these circumstances, it is natural to look for what may appear to be the most “practical” way out of the problem: “Major in a subject designed to get you a job” seems the obvious answer to some, though this ignores the fact that many disciplines in the humanities characterized as “soft” often, in fact, lead to employment and success in the long run. Indeed, according to surveys, employers have expressed a preference for students who have received a broadly based education that has taught them to write well, think critically, research creatively and communicate easily.

(MORE: What High School Graduation Speeches Should Say But Don’t)

Moreover, students should be prepared not just for their first job but for their fourth and fifth jobs, as there is little reason to doubt that people entering the workforce today will be called upon to play many different roles over the course of their careers. The ones who will do best in this new environment will be those whose educations have prepared them to be flexible.  Those with the ability to draw upon every available tool and insight — gleaned from science, arts and technology — to solve the problems of the future and take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves will stand themselves and the U.S. in good stead.

(MORE: The Real Reason Women Don’t Choose STEM Careers)

In May 1780, while away in France, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail expressing his hopes for the progress of the American experiment. “I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My Sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.” Granted, there were poets and musicians in America in his time, but what Adams was really expressing was “the truth that a country must have a sufficient level of wealth, stability and security before large numbers of its citizens can engage in pursuits broader than the basic struggle for survival that war and politics — the substitute for war — address.” Despite our economic woes, the U.S. is a wealthy nation. We have the capacity to create and maintain an educational system that trains students in science, math, history, art and other disciplines, at the very highest level. Will we continue to fulfill the worthy vision for the nation that Adams set forth?

98 comments
a.boredguy6
a.boredguy6

Could you link or list some of the employers that are hiring LA grads? It does not have to be exhaustive or very detailed, simply every time I read articles about "Liberal Arts are in Demand !" or  "Employers love Liberal arts" - or something to that effect, the author never reveals who these employers are. And off the bat I want to exclude retail and fast food. I do not doubt your  premise Mrs. Gordon-Reed but in a time when we have more job seekers than jobs, when "entry level" requires 2-3 years of previous experience, I have to question: are the Liberal arts as competitive as the Business and STEM majors out there? Does the English grad have a realistic shot at getting hired at IBM , KPMG, Prudential, Ernst and Young etc.... or should one just major in IT or finance?

You say that employers value the LA grads, who are these employers? Please on behalf of myself and every mal-employed LA grad working at Shop Rite, Stop and Shop, Autozone etc.... who are these employers? Surely we did not spend 4 years of college and graduate in debt to find that the LA best job prospects are McDonalds and Wendys and yet here is where the majority of us are. Who are these employers that value the Liberal arts? Does the LA grad really stand a shot at employment against  the finance, the accounting majors etc...?

ThomasE.Reed
ThomasE.Reed

Schools don't need to create leaders. The leaders are already in charge, and are known as the One Percent. What America needs is more drone labor, coolies, slaves, whatever you want to call them. Or rather, call us. The humanities are near useless for creation of those individuals - except for Lady Gaga, Madonna, Britney Spears or the ilk, who make drone labor of their fans.

prioripete
prioripete

...yeah, but white women don't need any education to get a job!

LokHupBaFa
LokHupBaFa

To get a non Liberal Arts degree, you take more hours -- ie you take the Liberal Art classes plus the extra math and science.  The Engineers and Scientist were in those classes with you, and wrote as many papers, read the same books.  But they actually expanded their little bubbles to practical information.  The reason employees hire so many Liberal Art majors, is that there is so many of them, and they don't need to be paid much.  Engineers are rarer, and cost more to hire.    When looking for cheap labor, you take what you can get... now look at the unemployment rate for STEM grads, and ask yourself why it is so low compared to general unemployment....

Why do Liberal Arts majors think Engineers didn't take writing, social science, and English lit?  They are core classes required by every major.  The Engineers were the ones who got easy A's in the Liberal Arts classes you were struggling with -  they were killing themselves studying the hard courses like Chemistry -- while the Liberal Arts majors were getting drunk and making excuses to the professors about their late papers

lazarus00000
lazarus00000

The college level courses need to be made practicle. I am fully supportive in the Arts related programs as long as the student is also able to get a secon degree with which they could apply to a career. Careers in liberal arts are limited and Student. We have suffered in society when these types of classes were cut from the high Schools and earlier because that is when children's minds are growing and such experience is needed.

But lets wake up and stop funding such degrees in College. The truly gifted will shine early on and hopefully get all the assistance they need to fulfill their destiny. But the goal should be to get the kids working, paying taxes and so on.

We might also want to fire all the communist professors in college as well who teach their hateful rhetoric to the young minds.

Lazarus

TooMuchMe
TooMuchMe

Come on, everyone! It's funny because as an English major everyone would ask me 'what are you gonna do with that?' To which I responded 'Every single potential line of work needs good communicators. There is a whole world of opportunity in a writing career.'Result? I love my life. There is not a day where I don't use the skills I developed in my classes. I have a flexibility in my career choices unmatched by anyone I know. I have worked in everything from technical writing to copywriting and marketing to journalism. The internet has provided a ridiculous amount of opportunities for writers.But as for the philosophers out there? I have no idea what the hell they were thinking, nor what they are doing.

jack_stem
jack_stem

This article implies the only way one learns is via sitting in a classroom. I have  a STEM degree and it did help me get my first job. To the extent that I need to prepare for my 4th and 5th jobs, it's up to me to be an ongoing learner. I'm an avid reader and "self improver" and it's insulting that the only way I can be prepared when 50 is via what I learned at 19. It's also terrible to students that we will them the only way they can be well rounded is by going into enormous debt. You can become very well rounded via frequent trips to the free public library.

Nelba
Nelba

Degrees of the Top Ten Fortune 500 CEOs.  The list below reveals 7 of the Top Ten CEOS have Engineering Degrees, 2 Economics, and 1 Math.   At my University Math and Economics were considered Liberal Arts majors. All have a strong quantitative aspect to them in addition to everything else.

Alan R. Mulally,  Ford Motors, B.S, Aeronautical Engineering

William R. Klesse, Valero Energy  B.A., Chemical Engineering

Jeffrey R. Immelt, General Electric B.A., Applied Mathematics

Daniel F. Akerson, General Motors B.S., Engineering 

Timothy D. Cook, Apple B.S., Industrial Engineering

Warren E. Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway B.S., Economics

Greg C. Garland,  Phillips66 B.S., Chemical Engineering

John S. Watson, Chevron B.S., Agricultural Economics

Rex W. Tillerson, Exxon Mobil B.S., Civil Engineering

Michael T. Duke, Walmart Stores B.S., Industrial Engineering


Nelba
Nelba

This article claims to be a rebuttal to "Critics of the Liberal Arts" as the title says.  Yet it never identifies who these critics are, not does it quote any of them.   It is strange to rebut people and statements who are unknown.

BenjaminMontgomery
BenjaminMontgomery

Here's the deal.  Every engineer I know loves the arts, he or she can play an instrument, or loves poetry or art.  None of the liberal arts types I know have the slightest interest in science.  Figure it out.

chaokai60
chaokai60

It's good to have the liberal arts education together with technical training and business education and done with the critical thinking.   

TyroneGood
TyroneGood

Confirmed by my own job, working government, and friends working Google/Amazon. English majors are desirable, so are computer sciences, etcetera. You just need hunger and not enough time on your hands to keyboard warrior under the name of a weakass bird!

hummingbird
hummingbird

The author of this article wants students to major in the humanities so that she and other liberal arts college professors can continue to have a job. Short of becoming highly successful writers, they have to be college professors as all of their degrees are in the humanities. They can't go to Wall St. or Google with those liberal arts degrees.

hummingbird
hummingbird

By the way, newscasters Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric have only Bachelors degrees in English but most English majors won't be as fortunate as they are. In today's tight/competitive job market, it probably would be best for a prospective journalist to have a Bachelors in Communication or Journalism or even a Masters in it.

hummingbird
hummingbird

This article is not convincing! The only place you can get employment these days with a major in the liberal arts is in a school/college. The business places don't want it.  You'll have to go back to college to study something more marketable and profitable if you dare to major in the liberals arts and you don't want to be a teacher or professor. 

STEM and Business/Finance majors have the advantage! They just need to be encouraged to do some liberal arts courses as their electives so they can have a broad education. Every college student has to do English courses so the humanities is a part of every college student's life.

JCPianiste
JCPianiste

I think the problem with this article is that it tries to say that English majors have an advantage because STEM folks don't know how to communicate, which is simply not true.  The skills for effective communication can be developed outside of a degree, and many people do just that.  In contrast, if you go into a tech interview without a degree, you are not likely to get very far.  To be sure, some do - but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

Don't get me wrong, I do think subjects like English, foreign languages, the arts, etc make us better and more interesting people, and I think it would be a better world if people could actually go to college just for the joy of learning instead of being so practical about things - unfortunately, college tuition costs being what they are, that's not a reality for most of us :\

jonmcn49
jonmcn49

"  just as there are more english majors than there are jobs, it does not necessarily make sense to assume that they should all study STEM instead. "

Have you taken collage chemistry vs English 1A? These humanities majors are not going to transfer in anything approaching significance and we know why. They went into humanities for a reason and many eschew science, most probably because they can not cut it.

Of course humanities are needed, but in the balance they weigh lightly against the sciences. 

condenasty
condenasty

couple things: 1) just as there are more english majors than there are jobs, it does not necessarily make sense to assume that they should all study STEM instead. the fact is that there are more people than there are jobs - i doubt that STEM fields could accommodate every liberal arts major who could jump ship, especially when many of those jobs are geared towards improving the efficiency with which tasks are automated (i.e. increasing the speed with which jobs are eliminated). 

2) the rivalry between the liberal arts and STEM is a reflection of a fallacious analogy between the relative functions of two separate spheres of human inquiry. the humanities do not produce knowledge in the way that the hard sciences do, and the sciences are not capable of performing ethical/aesthetic/political reasoning. STEM teaches students stuff - facts, systems, skills, approaches, habits etc. the humanities are supposed to make its students more complete as humans by enriching their understanding of history, communication, art. this isn't the same kind of project and it doesn't make sense to talk about these two kinds of knowledge as if they "successful" and "unsuccessful" (or "useful" and "useless") flavors of the same thing. 

XiraArien1
XiraArien1

With robots or 3rd worlders doing most of the work these days, a new economic and social order is necessary.

We can't keep telling people to 'get a damn job' while eliminating all the jobs they are able to perform.

We can't keep letting immigrants in to increase competition for the few jobs left, which lowers wages even further.

The only long term solution to our economic problems related to automation is free-market socialism followed by free-market communism. Redistribution, and a lot of it, is the only way the vast majority of mankind is going to survive.

The Google Glass factory is going to be built here, and it's going to employ about 15 people. The future is now, and we need to deal with it now.

http://llltexas.com

JasonPaskowitz
JasonPaskowitz

Agreed. The "stick it to those college punks" types who love to gloat over people suffering with unmanageable debt loads are the most vocal about cutting back on support for the liberal arts and critical thinking. Not surprisingly, this Archie Bunker demographic, and their tea trash extremist politicians, are the ones most threatened by a classically-trained, critical liberal-thinking population.

tweetybrd20
tweetybrd20

I have just come to this realization being an undergrad at TCU, I came in majoring in Information Technology and changed to Communication Studies. So it's great that my choices will not be in vain. STEM fields are very important but if you're like me and you have hands-on training in technology then you don't need a degree to work in a particular IT job, that's one of the reasons I changed majors people who work in IT rarely have a degree in that field it's mostly stuff they've either taught themselves or learn from someone else.

SeanWhite
SeanWhite

"think critically" must mean being able to come up with stuff like "it's a tax"

Frank_Grimes
Frank_Grimes

The same people who thought it was a good idea to get $200,000 in school loans to major in Philosophy, or 19th century French poetry, are the same ones crying that they can't pay back their loans.  Go figure!  They couldn't get a job at the Philosophy factory 

jimsumm71
jimsumm71

People are going to have 4 or 5 technical jobs in their lifetime.  Who would you bet on being able to do that, someone who has learned enough to be qualified for 1 technical job, or someone who has never been qualified for any technical job?

Harkonnen
Harkonnen

This is a pure fantasy unless you bring some demonstrable skills (analytics, programming, etc.) along with that liberal arts degree. Please take a look at the open jobs available. None of them require a liberal arts background and none of them will for the foreseeable future. The only deviation from that would be a field of study that delivers a fluency in a foreign language.

Full disclosure: I have a BA in European History which makes me slightly interesting at parties. Fortunately for me, I spent my post-graduate years building up the tech skills that I should have been double-majoring in university.

gentrumpet
gentrumpet

I have an M.A. in a liberal arts field and can't find a job; therefore, I increasingly side with the STEM folks on this issue.  The liberal arts folks have to figure out a *convincing* way to communicate to the world that their fields have value within the context of a capitalist economy.  If the liberal arts folks can't do this, then either capitalism needs to go or the liberal arts need to go (maybe the liberal arts don't need to go away entirely, perhaps they should be treated more like hobbies that one pursues in one's spare time). 

AmandaSmith
AmandaSmith

@LokHupBaFa That is a load of crap. You do not take more hours to get a STEM degree. I have a BS in History and yet somehow I still sat through, and did well in, science and math courses. Every student has to take certain general education courses. At my university there were 132 credits required to graduate- regardless of your field of study. I worked incredibly hard in school. I tutored and ran supplemental instruction courses in the humanities for students struggling. Guess what? I had a fair amount of STEM students in attendance. I graduated with highest honors. I never turned anything in late to my professors. I didn't party because I was too busy studying and working. My lowest grade in any class was a B in Biology. Don't tell me that STEM majors work harder than LA. We do different work but both matter and both are difficult. Are STEM majors more employable? Absolutely. I knew when I went into my program the odds I was facing. I also knew that math and certain sciences were not my strong point. I did what I loved and it's worked out so far. I have a job that I like and a decent starting salary. I'm so tired of getting crap from people in STEM fields. I respect your chosen field. Why can't you do the same to me?

lazarus00000
lazarus00000

I am very happy for you to have found your "Niche" in life. But should you ever need to use any other skills of life as in an emergency situation, you would be trying to conjugate grammar instead of building a fire.

I was a nontraditional student who hadf already lived more real life experiences than most people would experience. I woulsd ask the KIDs about their majors and I would hear : art, philosophy, archeology, and so on. I would ask them what the planned to do with that, and I ususally received a blank stare.

I truly feel that our system needs to be revamped to not allow a student to receive loans or grants for such degrees unless they are able to use them in the real world.

I am totally supportive of the arts and believe we need them to be well balanced individuals, but to major in such things is the games of the wealthy who will never be out of a job because their degree is laughable in the limited applications.

Lazarus

AlexStern
AlexStern

Yes, although you're very flexible in your career, there is a limit to your earnings as comparing to a highly specialize field like Network Engineering fo example. Lots of people can construct a good sentence, but only few can put together and maintain a computer network

Nelba
Nelba

@jack_stemYou have it right Jack.  College can provide some basics that get you started, but there is nothing that beats a post-academic education that can only be acquired by putting mere academics behind you.  There is an old academic cliche that goes, " you don't know what you're going to need to know." With the implication that what you need to know is within the limited scope of academic knowledge. What you will need to know will overwhelmingly be found in encountering the infinite complexity and ambiguity of the real world.



chokingkojak
chokingkojak

@Nelba 4 of the executives you list head oil companies that would not be on the list in question were it not for war and the old futures market -- oil futures prices a factor buttressing per barrel prices, pump prices  and the corresponding annual earnings of the 4 oil companies in question.  

Sure, Watson at Chevron is an Agricultural Economist -- fine, we'll cross him off.  But Klesse, Garland and Tillerson at Valero, Phillips66 and Exxon are engineers in the top 10 by virtue of their companys' "bubble" earnings, not their degrees. 

AmandaSmith
AmandaSmith

@BenjaminMontgomery I have a degree in History with a minor in Geography. My thesis dealt with the development of satellite and rocket technology in the US and USSR. I'm considering going back for my masters in the History of Science and Technology. So, yeah, generalizations probably aren't the best thing.

Also, those LA people likely had very negative experiences with math or science teachers in K-12. I know I did. It's what pushed me towards History. I claimed to hate science until beginning college when I developed an interest in it on my own. Not to mention that I tutored many STEM students in various humanities subjects while in school. I definitely knew lots who hated LA.

jmcardenas
jmcardenas

@BenjaminMontgomery Your experience would be unique. I know plenty of engineers (and science-majors) who could not give a damn about arts. In fact, many of them don't give a damn about anything that won't help them "get ahead" in a tangible way. And I know plenty of "liberal arts types" who have an interest, and even a background in, science. Half of my MA English cohort had a science background, myself included. 

jamiedonnici
jamiedonnici

@hummingbird ironically, they can and will go to Google with liberal arts degrees. Google has publicly expressed preference for hiring liberal arts majors. Did you know that 50% of Fortune 500 CEO's have liberal arts degrees? Or that when Amazon.com began expanding, they hired the entire graduating class of a small liberal arts college in Washington? 

AmandaSmith
AmandaSmith

@jonmcn49 I had terrible experiences during K-12 with math and science teachers. I lost interest at a very young age and fell behind. I hated school with the exception of my history and art classes. So I majored in History because I absolutely love it. I know what my odds are but so far it has worked out.

Funny thing, I ended up liking science in the end. My thesis dealt with the development of rocket and satellite technology. I may get my masters in the history of science and technology. My math skills are still horrid, so actually pursuing a STEM field or degree is really unrealistic.

jmcardenas
jmcardenas

@jonmcn49 I was in honours chemistry and got bored of it. I finished my honours BA and my MA in English. By far, the most intelligent group of people I've ever met were in my honours BA graduating class. Maybe things are different where you're from.

chokingkojak
chokingkojak

@jonmcn49   "...eschew science most probably because they cannot cut it." 

Yes, much like science geeks fail to "cut it" in the eyes of mainstream humans.     

condenasty
condenasty

@jonmcn49 i've taken college chemistry, i've taken college english, and i've made a fair number of collages, frottages, and other assemblages of images while at college. it's sort of hard to know how many liberal arts students could "cut it" in science classes, since we rarely talked about chemistry in our humanities classes. but to echo jenniferbonin down the page, i don't think it is fair to assume that people study the humanities because they are too stupid to study STEM, or that some humanities majors aren't also pursuing serious interests in science, technology, and math. (if that's not what you are implying then please correct me.) 

JCPianiste
JCPianiste

@tweetybrd20 I guess I could see some people in IT not having a degree in that field, but "most"?  I doubt it.  Was just sitting around a table with my software-developing co-workers yesterday, and after inquiring we found that all of us had majored in computer science.  So unless our company is the only one...

tweetybrd20
tweetybrd20

And don't count out minors because I am a double minor in Psychology of Leadership and Women's Studies, so you can use a minor to also find something employable because it's usually 18-20 hours of classes from the major anyway.

jblock6661
jblock6661

@Frank_Grimes I majored in philosophy and make 6 figures writing, yes writing, about computer hardware and software. Not too hard to get a job at the philosophy factory if you know where to look.

AmandaSmith
AmandaSmith

@gentrumpet I think it is incredibly important that LA majors know what they're signing up for. I did and, so far, it's worked out for me. I am considering going back to school but am definitely wary of increasing my debt for nothing. When talking to new college students I definitely urge them to pursue STEM fields and only LA if it is something they absolutely love. I think part of the problem is LA gets the people who don't know why they're in college most of the time. I was the top of my department. If I'm worried about my future prospects, how are those at the middle and bottom going to do?

clambert506
clambert506

Gentrumpet, you've hit upon the crux on the issue. Capitalism will go when humanity has accomplished the enormous task of replacing humans in the roles of both manual labor and engineering with automated systems capable of exceeding humans in doing and thinking in each area. Only the finely balanced result will provide a utopian society where humans can expend their time and energies in more casual persuits. However, to attain this end we will need a great deal of emphasis on science and engineering along with humanities becoming more important the closer we come to achieving that goal. The challenge we face at the outcome will define what/who we are as a species and where we fit in the resultant ecology and profoundly altered human reality.

For the record, I have a high school education followed by four years military service and 26 years in the software industry, including my most recent stint as co-founder and VP of Product Development at TimeTrade Systems. College has nothing to do with developing and utilizing your brain.

brentsurf1
brentsurf1

@gentrumpet You must be a little on the slow side. Go to any technical writers group meeting in your city and you will find more work than you can possibly handle. A good tech writer can make $75-200 an hour documenting what the engineers have designed, but don't know how to explain how hit works clearly and concisely. This is good for toasters to rockets.

moshaughnessy63
moshaughnessy63

@lazarus00000 I majored in Latin and Ancient Greek, and the data analysis skills that study developed, have gotten and kept me in technology for decades.

TooMuchMe
TooMuchMe

I already scoffed at useless but prestigious degrees like philosophy, but stand in defense of my fellow English majors. Remember that we are in the midst of an information revolution. Those who produce this content that continues to change our world are people with an English major's sensibilities. And there is much demand for that in the work force.

moshaughnessy63
moshaughnessy63

@AlexStern Even fewer can both maintain a computer network and write readable, coherent documentation about the network. Those are the people with no job worries.

BurtWay
BurtWay

@jmcardenas @BenjaminMontgomery Many Liberal Arts majors aren't interested in the arts either.  They got a Liberal Arts degree because their professors and teachers told them that college grads earn 25% more than none grads, or some variation on that theme..

Nelba
Nelba

@jamiedonnici @hummingbird Please provide references for these interesting statements.   In large companies I have worked, there is a level of demand for certain services that whole departments are needed to provide them. It quite appropriate for these groups to be staffed by various college grads all types, including Liberal Arts majors.  Some of these departments are Purchasing, Business Travel, Human Resources, Publications, customer service, etc.  So Google would be among such companies.

brentsurf1
brentsurf1

@jblock6661 @Frank_Grimes Yup - Jblock is right on. I started writing computer crap in 1982. Made lots of money and retired at 59. The software and hardware business explosion has been good to me since most of the engineers were incapable of documenting their projects. I love the illiterate geeks.

gentrumpet
gentrumpet

@clambert506 One of my concerns is that we're not really trying to replace humans with automated systems.  Increasingly, it appears like we're trying to invent work for people to do that doesn't need to be done because people "need jobs."  Or, perhaps a better way of saying it is that we've already replaced enough human work with automated systems; therefore, capitalism can already sustain liberal arts pursuits.  At least within the context of the U.S. (we're not there globally), there is an overabundance of wealth (at the very top) and an overabundance of food (obesity epidemic), but we continue to force highly educated non-STEM people to work at McDonald's so that they can eat.  Probably all (or most) of the jobs available at McDonald's could be replaced with automated systems, but we're not really working on doing that.

Sebby
Sebby

@brentsurf1 @gentrumpet Ridiculous.  I was a Tech Writer at a major defense company and we did OK, but not as well as engineers.  We Tech Writers may not have majored in a Tech field but had significant number of science & math courses.  When  our east coast site shut down I continued as an independent contractor.  Many friends have continued on that worthy path.  I became a high school teacher in the 1990s which has paid better and provided a more stable profession.  Your claim to gentrumpet that he can just jump in and become a Tech Writer is ridiculous.  Your statement that he is "a little on the slow side" is insulting.  None of my capable Tech Writers friends earn anything like the $75 to $200 per hour you claim.  A quick web check of tech writer job offerings showed a few about $40 per hour if one is qualified.  Your posts sound like someone who lacks all credibility. 

jmcardenas
jmcardenas

@BurtWay @jmcardenas @BenjaminMontgomery You make a good point. In my experience, however, most folks in liberal arts degrees are indeed interested in their fields. I didn't mean to imply that engineers are sheerly utilitarian. Just that my experience has been the opposite of BM's experience. 

Nelba
Nelba

@JenniferBonin @gentrumpet @Sebby @brentsurf1Off the top of my head, add your own.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky -- Nikolayev Military Engineering Institute Grad -- author, Crime & Punishment, Brothers Karamazov

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn -- BS Mathematics, Rostov University -- author, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,, Gulag Archipelago, Nobel Prize for Literature 1970

JenniferBonin
JenniferBonin

@gentrumpet @Sebby @brentsurf1 Thank you.  It gets really tiresome to hear that, just because I majored in engineering, I can't write.  It's true that SOME engineers can't -- but then, some music majors can't write either, so I don't really know what that says.  It's much more often true that engineers don't WANT to go through the time-consuming and labor-intensive work of writing up formal documentation, not because they can't do it, but because they'd rather spend their time doing something else that they find more interesting and useful.  Thus, they like to hire out a technical writer who finds the task more enjoyable.

For the record, a surprisingly large minority of engineers not only can write, but CHOOSE to write for fun.  Yes, it's usually scifi/fantasy, not high-brow literature, but it is writing and it's enough to prove that we understand basic grammar and communication skills.  Similarly, most engineers are actually reasonably competent at explaining themselves in person (at least to someone with enough technical background to understand what they're talking about).  While there are some engineers who hide in their cubicles all day, those are the minority.  I appreciate that you realize that, Trumpet -- and appreciate even more that you've stated it to these folks you are running off stereotypes and pride and nothing more.

gentrumpet
gentrumpet

@Sebby @brentsurf1 @gentrumpet I've never been convinced of the notion that scientists and engineers can't write.  Most scientists and engineers can write just as well (if not better) than many liberal arts graduates.  This is one of the arguments that liberal arts folks put forward in defense of their disciplines that simply doesn't convince anyone outside of the liberal arts.