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Liberal Arts but were afraid to ask...


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  1. Why do we call them the Liberal Arts?

    The ancient Romans used the term to describe the components of an education appropriate to a citizen (i.e. a free male). Since classical times, the study of these areas has been the foundation of much of western learning.
  2. What is in Liberal Arts? 

    At USI, we have 10 departments, about 30 majors and emphases, and about 30 minors. There’s everything from Art to Philosophy, from Communications to Sociology. Majors include graphic design, radio and TV, English, global languages, history, political science.
  3. What’s the University Core and why do I have to study it? 

    Every college and university divides its degrees into two parts: the foundation and the major. The foundation is often called general education; at USI we call it the University Core Curriculum, and most of the courses are offered by departments in Liberal Arts. Students take Core courses for at least three reasons: (a) many students end up majoring in something different from what they thought they would when they came to college—the core can be the place where you find out what interests you and what you might like to major in; (b) the core prepares you for courses in your major—coming from high school, you need to develop knowledge and skills that will equip you to succeed in more specialized advanced courses; and (c) just like life as a whole, your university education is about a lot more than a major—the purpose of the core is to help you develop a richer understanding of your self, your place in the world, and your relationship to people, cultures, and values that are different from those you’ve experienced.
  4. What can I do with a major from Liberal Arts?

    Just about anything you want to. Did you know that every President since 1960 except one has had a liberal arts major? That English majors include Matt Damon, David Duchovny, and Tommy Lee Jones. That political sciences majors include Tom Brokaw and Jane Pauley of NBC News, Steve Case, the CEO of AOL, and Elizabeth Dole, former director of the American Red Cross.

    What a liberal arts degree does is give you the kinds of skills every employer wants: critical thinking, communication, and the ability to learn and adapt. Most of you will work in a variety of different careers over your lifetime—a liberal arts education gives you the foundation and flexibility to learn to change and take on new challenges.

  5. So how do I prepare myself to find a job with a liberal arts degree?

    First, think about combining a major with a minor that will increase your marketability: e.g. major in psychology and get the writing skills of an English minor, or major in graphic design and add a minor in business.

    Second, plan to work as an intern at some point in the next four years. Internships give you invaluable workplace experience and are often the foot in the door to permanent positions.

    Third, once you are settled into your major, look for opportunities to engage in undergraduate research with your faculty members. Doing research as an undergraduate is a great way to find out whether you want to stay in a field and a huge advantage when you apply to graduate school.