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Liberal Arts Degree???


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My son, a junior, just doesn't know which direction he wants to go as far as college programs.  He has time yet, but we did want to start exploring options.   So, one idea that I thought about having him get a liberal arts degree...but honestly I have no idea what that would buy him.  What can you do with such a degree? 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts 

 

 

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Here is one link to shows jobs and grad school areas for BA in Liberal Arts/liberal studies.

https://www.uis.edu/liberalstudies/about/degree/

My middle dd will have a BA in Liberal Studies in a few months (from thomas edison)  For her, it is more of a "just in case degree" or "job with any bachelors" is ok. We weren't sure she was up for much of anything beyond associates, but she's on non traditional path with this degree. has learning challenges, etc.   I can't imagine I would have leaned toward this degree when she was a junior in high school. I'm on another forum where many adult learners are getting BA in LA/LS (depending which the school calls it) in non traditional settings to have job advancement.

Has he done any kind of work (volunteer, job, etc) and/or career exploration research yet?  I'd start there and begin to work backwards.  Maybe if he has a close idea of something he wants to do as a job, then you can work on college programs or other post secondary education to get there.   Middle gal did not have a clue when she was grade 11.  She liked cats, and art work, and volunteered at church special needs classes.   She still likes those things and is almost done with the non traditional alternative credit, just in case bachelors.   I know would not have considered this degree if she had been interested in traditional style 4 year places.

not sure that helps. but that's where our journeys meet.

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10 minutes ago, cbollin said:

 

Has he done any kind of work (volunteer, job, etc) and/or career exploration research yet?  I'd start there and begin to work backwards.  Maybe if he has a close idea of something he wants to do as a job, then you can work on college programs or other post secondary education to get there.   Middle gal did not have a clue when she was grade 11.  She liked cats, and art work, and volunteered at church special needs classes.   She still likes those things and is almost done with the non traditional alternative credit, just in case bachelors.   I know would not have considered this degree if she had been interested in traditional style 4 year places.

not sure that helps. but that's where our journeys meet.

thanks for the link. I will be checking that out. This is our situation with our son.

He is a forger. He loves working with his hands. But after talking to many blacksmiths, we were told this is not a career job....it's really hard (unless you happen to be at the right time in the right place) to make a living as a blacksmith. He loves working with his hands, but he has no interest in welding for a job, or being a mechanic (although he can do mechanical type stuff). He is a great problem solver. He doesn't want to work with wood full time, but he can do it when he is making handles for the knives he forges.

We have thought about a shop teacher...but he doesn't want to teach.

He has no interest in other trades either...like electrician, plumber etc.

The other issue is that he has no desire to attend a big university nor go to a liberal, secular school. We are church family and so that kind of college doesn't interest him. We are Lutheran and our church body has multiple colleges, but they don't have any sort of trade school or industrial arts programs. One has an liberal art program and that sort of caught my eye.

So we are trying to take it all into account and try to look outside the box to see what else is out there for him.

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Our local community college offers an Associates in helicopter repair ("Aviation Maintenance Power Plant Applied Technology"), which feeds into our local Army Depot/Naval Air Station whose mission is helicopter repair.  Would he be interested in something like that?  The pay is pretty good, and being a federal job means you can advance to other federal jobs fairly easily, if the physical labor becomes too hard.

I guess I would look at your local community college and see what looks interesting to him.

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Harmel? I know some Lutheran synods would mesh better with Catholic beliefs than others would, but it is an interesting concept: https://www.harmelacademy.org/

Vincennes has a metal working intensive. It is more to be a machinist, but what if he combined that with an Entrepreneurship degree of some sort? https://www.vinu.edu/web/guest/major/metalworking-technology-certificate-cg-

 

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7 minutes ago, MamaSprout said:

Harmel? I know some Lutheran synods would mesh better with Catholic beliefs than others would, but it is an interesting concept: https://www.harmelacademy.org/

Vincennes has a metal working intensive. It is more to be a machinist, but what if he combined that with an Entrepreneurship degree of some sort? https://www.vinu.edu/web/guest/major/metalworking-technology-certificate-cg-

 

these are both interesting.  thanks.  How did you find these...or do you know someone who attends these schools?

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Maybe work with a blacksmithing artist who makes high-end large-scale sculpture work, and get a foot in the door of his forging love as a career?

A liberal arts degree with a focus on History, plus the blacksmithing might open doors for working at a historical site that has history recreation with the historical trades and skilled crafts.

Ideas of slightly related fields, not needing a degree:
- Farrier? -- a good horseshoer is highly sought after and worth their weight in horseshoes 😉 
- Silver smith? -- there is good money in learning to work with fine metals for jewelry making and jewelry repair!
Damascening -- knowledge of specific History locations/eras would come in handy
- Pewter worker?
- Knifemaker / Bladesmith?
- Gunsmith?


Is there  a 4-year degree a must? A LOT of Liberal Arts degree holders are currently working in coffee shops -- liberal arts has not a big money-making degree for the past 15 years, and unless the student is being offered a full-tuition or full-ride scholarship to go get a 4-year degree, I'm not convinced that is the best path right now, to spend anywhere from $40K-$140K for a 4-year degree that ends up having you work at a coffee shop... 

What about just working at a job that he doesn't mind that pays enough to live on, and allows him to continue blacksmithing, and possibly find a niche arts area with his blacksmithing? Or just gives him another 5 years or so until he finds he *wants* something that pays a higher wage, and invest in his education then? Maybe with a much less expensive AAS degree in something that he would be more inclined towards a few years into his 20s...  

I speak from experience, having 2 DSs who did not go straight to a 4-year university because it took a number of years after high school graduation to finally find what they wanted to do... 😉 DS#1 is currently at college now earning a BS in Mechanical Engineering, and will be late 20s when he finally gets the degree and launches into a career. DS#2 is going a non-college route, but knows that at some point in the future he *may* need a bachelor degree in order to advance into upper levels. Both DSs went to the community college to start with to knock out transferable gen. ed. credits while they tried to figure out what they might want to do, so that we weren't spending a fortune on "figuring it out" at a university.

If a liberal arts degree is the best option at this time, check out this article for tips on how to maximize the degree: "4 Ways Universities Are Increasing Liberal Arts Graduates' Employability".

Also, the statistics in this short pdf from the American Association of Colleges & Universities were interesting:

1.) 93% of employers state that job candidates' capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems, were more important than the area of the undergraduate major

2.) the top professions that Liberal Arts degree holders go into are: teachers, lawyers/judges, CEOs, legislators, social workers, Counselors, Sales Reps/Supervisors, Marketing & Sales Managers, Clergy, Secretaries, Accountants/Auditors


For that 1.) -- that is encouraging, that for more traditional sorts of jobs and occupational fields, that while having the degree jumps the hoop for the "weeding out" process in job interviews, that the college major is not what the employer may first be looking for...

For that 2.) -- on the downside, while that doesn't mean your DS would *have* to go in any of those directions with a Liberal Arts degree, it sounds like those are Liberal Arts degree areas that tend to make professional wages. Do any of those occupations sound like something DS might fit with in the future?

Edited by Lori D.
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By the way, it did not cost anything close to 40,000 for my middle dd's liberal studies degree. It's a degree that does not have to be done at expensive places, or in expensive ways.  (check out something called homeschoolingforcollegecredit, or the free online webinar course called The College RoadMap over at dual credit at home website.  both of those organizations help parents figure out how to do a General Studies/History concentration, or Liberal Studies degree, or business degree for less.  now, that's not for everyone. and some people should not do them.... but it is an option for some)

my middle gal did a lot of Clep exams (all of that was free using the voucher program through modernstates dot org). Community college. sophia.org, coopersmith career courses (transfer as college credit to her school), and study.com, then final two courses at thomas edison.    If that non traditional route is of any interest to anyone, it can be done with cash as you go and people start to find cheaper ways to do it too.  but I think we were in a more expensive version of the game and will pay 10,000 when it's all done, but it could have been done for less......  and it will be with zero debt just not zero out of pocket.

Oh, and then there's employees of a certain popular coffee shop chain who get college courses for free while they are employees, and use "earned admissions program" from arizona state.   My dd didn't start the homeschool for college credit plan until she graduated high school.  lots of good options. start at coffee shop and get college on the way vs get $$$$ and then work in shop? meh.

not everyone has to have a 4 year degree.  He may not need or want one.  if liberal studies is something you want, don't over paid at expensive place like lori said above.  

just wanted to expand a few details on my middle dd's journey. not standard path.

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Would he be interesting in engineering or engineering technology (more applied). If he’s adept with his hands and problem solving, it seems like lots of things would be open to him. Does your area have a trades career fair? There is a huge one here every year. I guess I’m having a hard time seeing the point of a basic liberal arts degree in this case. What about a pilot (helicopter or airplanes)? An appraiser? Machinist? Has he really looked deeply into all of the trades he is rejecting? Being an adept problem solver who enjoys working with his hands seems ideal for so many trades. What is it that doesn’t appeal to him about electrician, plumber, etc.? We have several friends who make exceptionally good livings in the trades. Does he want something more artistic?

Edited by Frances
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Thanks for the good info on some awesome ways of reducing college costs! 😄  Another cost-saving option is a possible free-tuition colleges such as Berea (students work 15 hours/week to pay for their expenses).
______________________
ETA: here are some past threads on keeping college costs manageable -- all are linked on PAGE 3 of the pinned thread "College Motherlode"  at the top of the WTM College Board:
s/o Cautionary Tale/high college costs — a brainstorm $$ ideas thread!
How are YOU managing to pay for college? (lots of real-life creative ideas)
College as cheap as possible: need advice
College breaking the piggy bank? (how are homeschoolers affording college?)
Unexpected ways to save a little money in college? 
______________________

re: non-standard post-high school paths
Our DS#1 has done the non-standard 2 years of community college then transfer to the 4 year college to finish the degree -- twice. He is in the midst of finishing his BS in Mech.Eng. this way. Our DS#2 is taking an even less standard path of some community college classes, leaving college to work full time, a commitment with AmeriCorps, which then led to finding the job he loves. Non-standard paths have worked well here! 😄 

re: $40,000 cost for a degree
I was using the College Board's 2019-2020 statistics which state the average annual tuition+fees cost for college is $10,000/year for tuition/fees (that does not include room & board or other expenses). That is for the cheapest option, which is in-state public college. Out of state public college averages $26,000/year, while private colleges average almost $37,000/year.


JMO [not at all directed at @cbollin 😉 -- just me thinking out loud]:
I think there is too much of a push for "must go to college" in our culture, when it is NOT the best choice for everyone. Many high school graduates are much better served by taking a few years out to experience life to figure out what they really DO want to do, or what kind of work they don't mind doing that pays the bills and still allows them time to pursue passions. Or, in going into an apprentice. Or getting an AAS (the "degree-to-work"). Or working their way up and advancing through on-the-job training. Or... 😉 Many paths for the future, and they do NOT all have to lead through a 4-year university right after high school graduation. 😉 

Edited by Lori D.
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16 hours ago, kfeusse said:

 

 

The other issue is that he has no desire to attend a big university nor go to a liberal, secular school. We are church family and so that kind of college doesn't interest him. We are Lutheran and our church body has multiple colleges, but they don't have any sort of trade school or industrial arts programs. One has an liberal art program and that sort of caught my eye.

So we are trying to take it all into account and try to look outside the box to see what else is out there for him.

sounds similar to how my middle thought and felt in grade 11 (she's only 21 now). She did a college visit in grade 11 and decided that she did not want to go. Looked at nearby school that had studio art and art therapy majors. sweet little place with small classes. and she loved sitting in on class.  But the rest of the university stuff was too much!  Be encouraged that learning what you don't want to do is just as important as learning what you do want to do.

I never really thought that she would get a bachelors because of her disabilities. I did not think she had to have one either.  But about a year ago, she decided to go for it with the plan I mentioned already. I certainly did not want her to be in debt with a liberal studies degree.  She wasn't interested in the college experience.  whatever that means.  If I had not heard of that BA in Lib ST path when she was in grade 11, I may not have been able to help her jump on that path a few year down the road. So I mention it to you in case it helps a few years down the road. Or maybe it won't.

After high school, she kept working/volunteering as a classroom assistant in two places, and was on volunteer cleaning crew at church (we have a massive building).  And tried clep exams (and liked them) and then a year later signed up for 2 classes at community college... then 2 more... She wasn't even full time there. And she was taking all online before covid.   The reason I brought up her lower cost route toward the degree was to show how we personally dealt with that cost issue about this specific degree.  Anyway, middle gal realized that she was capable of degree completion and it became a personal goal of hers to reach.  Not something society shoved on her but her own personal goal.   She's looking forward next semester to her final class (she's still part time in college and getting bachelors by age 22, how does that work????  what????) when she gets to write her capstone paper and will research about feral cat rescues.  And then probably go work somewhere that she can love on cats and dogs and have never needed this debt free degree in the first place.  ooh.. doesn't Penn Foster career school have an accredited online veterinary assistant program?  but I digress while sharing.

I don't know what your son should or should not do.  I just wanted to encourage someone out there about liberal studies degree and our very out of the box path to get there. It's very possible that my story will show you that the degree is not what your son should do for any form of post secondary education (trade school, on the job, military, etc).

 

 

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Brainstorming...creative, likes to work with hands, good problem-solver...

Technical theatre? Film? Green building? Maker of high-end custom bicycles? (Or knives, which you've already mentioned, or maybe scissors--a few months ago, I saw a super-interesting short documentary about custom scissors-makers in the UK--who knew?) Holloware? I think there could be a decent living in craft, but it might help to identify a very specialised niche--I have a friend who sells hand-bound period books to re-enactors, for instance.

I do know an artisan blacksmith who makes a good living making commissioned public art and home decor pieces (stair railings, chandeliers, etc.) for custom homes. He also teaches through a local college, which supplements his income when commissions slow down. So it is possible--but he might have to live in an area where there's a demographic that is willing and able to spend tens of thousands of dollars on custom metalwork in a new house.

Another possibility occurs to me--maybe some type of small business/entrepreneurship credential? So he'd have a diploma or degree, but also be setting himself up to make a success of a craft business if that's a direction he decides to go.

Good luck! It's tricky, I know!

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Oh! One more idea, slightly different--what about orthotics/prosthetics? My kids and I visited a university lab where the students were developing a process for 3D-printing prostheses for amputees in poor countries--really life-changing work!

My mum needed orthotics in her later years, and I was impressed with the orthotist--he did a lot of work tweaking things so she could be comfortable. This is also a more people-oriented creative/problem-solving/working with hands job--one thing I see with making a life in craft is that a person potentially spends most of the day alone, which might not be what he wants (but might be exactly what he wants, which is OK, too!).

Edited by Emerald Stoker
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Sorry...me again!

The blacksmith I know has done some collaborations with people in this program:

https://cola.siu.edu/artanddesign/about-us/specializations/metalsmithing.php

He studied here:

https://www.hca.ac.uk/course/artist-blacksmithing

So degrees in this area are certainly possible (I realise that these are not Lutheran schools--but maybe there would be enough of a community of churchgoers on campus that he would be comfortable).

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On 10/30/2020 at 3:43 PM, kfeusse said:

thanks for the link. I will be checking that out. This is our situation with our son.

He is a forger. He loves working with his hands. But after talking to many blacksmiths, we were told this is not a career job....it's really hard (unless you happen to be at the right time in the right place) to make a living as a blacksmith. He loves working with his hands, but he has no interest in welding for a job, or being a mechanic (although he can do mechanical type stuff). He is a great problem solver. He doesn't want to work with wood full time, but he can do it when he is making handles for the knives he forges.

We have thought about a shop teacher...but he doesn't want to teach.

He has no interest in other trades either...like electrician, plumber etc.

The other issue is that he has no desire to attend a big university nor go to a liberal, secular school. We are church family and so that kind of college doesn't interest him. We are Lutheran and our church body has multiple colleges, but they don't have any sort of trade school or industrial arts programs. One has an liberal art program and that sort of caught my eye.

So we are trying to take it all into account and try to look outside the box to see what else is out there for him.

Has he explored other trade options beyond welder, electrician, plumber? 

HVAC

Sheet metal fabrication 

Ship fitter (check out The Apprentice School at Newport News shipyard) 

Landscape design 

Environmental mitigation 

Locksmith 

The Washington Post had an article recently about the high demand for appliance repair techs.

 

Edited by Sebastian (a lady)
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  • 2 weeks later...

Both of my DDs were undecided when they started college. The beauty of liberal arts colleges is that they don't have to know what they want to major in; in fact, being undecided encourages the student to explore different paths of study prior to settling down on one which typically occurs sometime during their Sophomore year. Being undecided does make the college decision-making process a little different because the focus is not on the major. That said, graduating with a degree from a liberal arts college indicates that the student has had a diverse education, has been encouraged to think both deeply and broadly, and has extensive experience expressing themselves orally and in writing. These skills translate into good paying jobs though the path is not as obvious.

If I was in the OP's shoes and a 4-year degree is desired, I would l would encourage exploration of schools in your denomination to determine whether they are a good fit. If one or more stands out, trust the liberal arts process. I am amazed at the people my DDs are becoming.

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