The popular press regularly notes that the flexibility of the degree makes English and Literary Studies Majors eminently hirable. Steve Strauss writes in USA Today, “I love [Literature majors’] ability to write well and think critically” (July 8, 2016). Business Insider routinely runs articles citing the desirability of hiring Literature/English Majors. Their June 2013 profile of Logitch CEO Bracken Darrell (himself a Literature major) suggests, Literature Majors’ “’soft skills’ are greatly needed in today’s technical world.” Mark Cuban echoed these sentiments in the same publication in his Feb. 17, 2017 article “Don’t Go To School For Finance — Liberal Arts Is The Future.”
The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) agree. Among their findings is that Liberal Arts majors “Earn More than Professional Majors at Peak Earnings Ages”:
“At peak earnings ages (56-60 years) workers who majored as undergraduates in the humanities or social sciences earn annually on average about $2000 more than those who majored as undergraduates in professional or pre-professional fields. These data include all college graduates working full-time, including those with only a baccalaureate degree and those with both a baccalaureate and graduate or professional degree.”
Also, Liberal Arts majors face lower unemployment rates:
“The unemployment rate for recent liberal arts graduates is 5.2 percent. The unemployment rate for mature workers with liberal arts degrees (41-50) is 3.5 percent—just .04 percent higher than the rates for those with a professional or preprofessional degree.” (See https://www.aacu.org/press/
Here is one way to think about the message of all of this research: it is easy to imagine a English and Literary Studies major taking an entry-level position at a brokerage house or bank (this happens frequently). It is much harder to imagine a Finance major walking into a high school English teaching position. While the data is there, this message is difficult to transmit. Below I will make some recommendations on this matter.