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The Liberal Arts Life


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Every time I go to the dentist or eye doctor, they, of course, try to start up a conversation. I tell them I’m going to Young Harris College. They ask for my major, and I tell them it’s history. The next question is always the same: So, you want to teach? I’m not a fan of this question. Yes, I was in the College’s Teacher Preparation Program for several semesters. It was an awesome experience, but I ultimately decided it wasn’t for me. However, a liberal arts degree like history does have value outside of teaching and creates many potential career paths.

What do I want to be? I would love to be a copywriter, and potentially focus on advertising. I am currently completing an internship that’s teaching me how to write concisely, research and use analytical skills. This experience on my résumé will help me get a job after graduation.

I’ve also obtained research, analytical and writing skills through my coursework. Most of the papers I write for history require 10 sources. This does not mean the first sources a search engine in one academic database brings up because these can be hilariously irrelevant. You need to find a source, read it and determine if you want to use it. You could use the method I used as a sophomore and freshman, which is read the whole article and then make a value judgment. This is arduous and time-consuming. Now, I read the abstract, the first couple of pages and the last page. That’s where the argument is. The rest is where the author attempts to prove the validity of this argument. If those pages engage me, I will read the whole article. If not, I move on to the next source.

Analysis also plays a role in writing. For example, I was doing a paper on the British officer Banastre Tarleton, and I knew what my argument was but I couldn’t figure how to organize my paper. I eventually settled on an overview of what happened to Tarleton during the American Revolution and then focused in on his involvement in the Battle of Waxhaws.  Moreover, my major has also taught me to write concisely. I’ve looked over my old papers and seen just how much fluff was in them. More recent papers have no fluff. Everything is there to argue a point.

Many employers want these skills. I find it shocking how many employers want people with basic writing skills—something my major has taught me how to do well. That’s one of the many perks of having a major grounded in the liberal arts—you can be anything.

John

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