Business vs Engineering vs Liberal Arts. Which is best?

The Choice blog at the New York Times recently had an article that discussed a presentation by the president of the University of Chicago on the value of a liberal arts education.  I think anyone interested in attending college should read this short article to better understand what a liberal arts education is all about.

But what caught my eye were the comments. As expected a number of the comments said that only by getting a “vocational” degree like business or engineering did you have any hope of getting a real job.

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know I like liberal arts colleges. Are they for everyone? No. But way too often I talk to a family that feels that the student must have a “vocational” degree like business or engineering to be successful. This is just not true.

What makes a student successful is what a student does with their education. Are you successful because you make a lot of money? Absolutely not. Money and success are not the same thing. You are successful when you are doing what you want to do with your life.

One of my nephews has a business degree from a well known major university. He works as a waiter. Does that make him unsuccessful? Not at all. He works as a waiter for 6 months to a year and saves most of his money. After that he travels around the world for 6 to 12 months. He is loving life and I often envy him.

I recently read a study (sorry can’t find it) that said that businesses prefer to hire history majors over business majors for new jobs. They do this because the history majors typically have better communication skills than the business majors and they can teach anyone basic business topics.

Being a business major is a great option if you are really interested in business. But if that is not where your passion lies, then it is a terrible option. Same thing with engineering. So you have a well paying job but are miserable. That is not success to me. And I have lived long enough to see how cyclical engineering can be with certain periods of time having many unemployed engineers.

Don’t worry long term about finding a job. If you develop your passion in college, whatever your major, you will find success in the long run.

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