Trends show that the top 10 careers of our society five years from now do not exist yet. Scary? Maybe. It certainly raises some good questions. As a society, how can we predict what skills will be valuable in the future work force? Should schools start offering programs in medical robotics, space tourism, or cyber security, just in case? As a student, how can you ensure that your education will still be marketable when you are looking for a job in 5, 10, or 20 years? On a less economic, more personal level, do you worry about finding balance in your life? Do you wonder how your education will answer life's "big questions?" Are you concerned with how your education will serve your local and global community?

   A liberal arts education addresses these questions and more. A liberal arts education, as opposed to a professional or vocational program, emphasizes well-roundedness as much as it encourages specialization in a particular field. Students at liberal arts colleges still choose a major that focuses the direction of their study. However, their major program gives them enough freedom to balance the classes specifically related to their field with classes in literature, music, mathematics, history, and science. As they explore areas outside their major, they come to appreciate how their expertise fits in a bigger context.

   A liberal arts education is more than a specific type of curriculum, however. It is an approach to education that will develop your critical thinking skills, intellectual curiosity, and versatility. It offers an interdisciplinary way of learning, which encourages you to approach problems from diverse angles and integrate ideas from all areas of your education. At a liberal arts school, you'll explore the "big questions" and not settle for easy answers. These critical-thinking skills will make you marketable to employers and graduate schools regardless of what field you choose to enter.

   The Augustana General Education Studies, or AGES, program captures the essence of a liberal arts education. During their first year at Augustana, students take a sequence of courses that ask fundamental questions like, "What does it mean to be a self in the world?" and "Where are my priorities?" These questions are treated as the foundation of (not a secondary supplement to) their major program. Once students declare their major, this foundation is enriched by hands-on learning experiences like internships and student-professor research projects.

Brought to you as a public service by Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.
© Augustana College 1994-2010