Although 2013 has been a year of economic recovery, to many college graduates it was also a year of economic uncertainty in a job market that is undergoing transformation on a scale we haven’t seen since the Industrial Revolution.
Many of the careers their parents and grandparents pursued simply don’t exist anymore, due to rapid technological change and the rise of the global marketplace in the 21st century.
As I have discussed in previous messages, the liberal arts give us the tools to succeed in this new world. As many of you learned from reading our latest issue of Life & Letters, a liberal arts education can help you succeed at any stage of your career.
In her excellent article, “Liberal Arts @ Work,” Life & Letters editor Michelle Bryant asked Liberal Arts faculty, staff and an alumna to share their best career strategies for success. We learned from psychology professor Art Markman how to focus on our goals and avoid distraction in the workplace, and alumna Cristina Flores showed us how an internship can help students “test drive” a future career.
Flores, who is now working for a congresswoman and hopes to become a U.S. ambassador, had this to say about her experience in our college: “I wouldn’t be where I am today without my liberal arts education. With the wide variety of courses available, I was able to have a less career-focused curriculum. This allowed me to grow as an individual and be prepared for anything thrown my way.”
Our students go on to successful careers precisely because careers aren’t the focus of their education. By producing critical, creative thinkers and effective communicators, our students are prepared for any challenge or opportunity. They don’t just train for a career; they make and remake careers.
It is heartening to hear from alumni like Cristina Flores, but it is also encouraging to see those words backed up by data. Payscale.com, an online salary and benefits company, recently ranked UT Austin No. 2 in the country among “Best Schools for Liberal Arts Majors,” with mid-career annual pay averaging $75,000. The site declared that a liberal arts degree “is an investment in your future.”
I hope you will consider making gift to support the work of students like Cristina Flores. There are many opportunities for you to become involved in the College of Liberal Arts—scholarships, internships, study abroad and other programs all contribute to helping our students succeed. Any gift, large or small, can make a big difference in the life of a student.
Giving Students an Early Start
Learning how to succeed at the college level is one of the most important transitions made by high school students and their families. That’s why we are offering a unique UT COLA Pre-College Program beginning June 29, 2014, to give high school students a real taste of college life.
The program offers nearly 20 classes ranging from Writing & Reading for Academic Success to Strategic Management of Sports Organizations. The non-credit classes are taught by top UT Austin professors and graduate teaching instructors and include graded homework, projects and tests.
Students will also meet with admissions counselors and learn about honors programs, undergraduate scholarships and other opportunities. They will also learn how to manage their time between academic, social and recreation activities and how to navigate a university library.
Bob Musiker, president of the program, says students will return to their high schools “confident that they can succeed in college, and they’ll be better high school students in the meantime.”
If you know of a high school student who might be interested in this program, I encourage you to visit this website for more information.
I wish all of you a safe and happy holiday season, and my very best wishes for the New Year.
Randy L. Diehl, Dean
David Bruton, Jr. Regents Chair in Liberal Arts